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Messages - Doro

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Alliums / Re: A diverse patch of shallots
« on: 2019-11-20, 03:28:39 AM »
That's such a beautiful look! I bet you got many questions about these beautiful flowers ;D my neighbours asked me this year what these giant ball flowers were and if the bulbs were expensive. Nope, just regular spring onions and kitchen onions.
Did you try eating the greens? They look so lush and full that, even if they do not bulb, they should be great for eating them like spring onions.
I'm normally planting mine 20cm apart to get bulbs. I'll crowd some of them next year, to see if they show a reaction in terms of seed heads or more greens instead of bulbs. Thinking about it I had crowded my spring onions once and the appearance of the plants was so different than normal. The normal ones are quite thick with long white parts and do not divide from the base unless I harvest them. The crowded ones had lots more leafy parts, less white base and made new shoots from the base like crazy.

Alliums / Re: A diverse patch of shallots
« on: 2019-11-18, 03:10:43 PM »
If in doubt keep all of them ;D can't grow too much onions! Especially when they keep a long time like potato onions usually do.

My longest day is almost 19h, but I'm grateful that it's not midnight sun :P our winter days are awfully short, but at least it's not dark all day.

I have been reading some about our local heirloom potato onions. There is a variety that is reported to flower on occasion, which sounds promising. Now I just need to find someone who has them and knows what variety they are... most times they just get traded between gardeners as potato onions without a variety name or location of their origin.

The ones that I'm growing are smaller than French shallots from the store. The plants also have fewer leafs than what is reported in the papers. They are quite short too. I never measured their hight or counted leafs, but I'd say 5 leafs and just about 20cm high. Typically I only get 6 bulbs per cluster. Maybe their earliness is connected to small plants with short leafs. It could be just my photoperiod though and they could look different when grown further south. A lot of plants do odd things when grown here.

Alliums / Re: A diverse patch of shallots
« on: 2019-11-18, 05:14:05 AM »
Yes I think we are both suffering from similar climates ;D
After reading all of the links, measuring temperatures in various places of the house and rethinking my regular shallot growing and storage regime... I'm getting an idea of why my shallots never flower in regular growing conditions. And why my experiments to induce flowering in a few sets were unsuccessful.

I always eat the biggest ones lol only medium to small makes it into storage. Storage is warm, at regular room temperature 16-20C in my house. The medium ones are the ones for planting and planting time is around the same time as potatoes. At least 8C soil temperature and from then on it warms up quickly in the full sun spots where I'm planting the shallots.
That's how I learned that shallots should be stored, planted and grown. Which, when thinking about it, is all aimed at optimum bulbing and avoiding flowers that reduce the edible harvest. Makes total sense.

My attempts to induce flowers did involve starting them indoors in a cool room. But the used sets were too small and stored too warm before planting. After the starting phase in the cool guest room I planted them into places that got too warm over the summer too. Photoperiod was also way too long by then.
Sadly I do not know which variety of potato onion I'm growing. I don't remember where I got it from. But it could be one of those that are reluctant to flower.

I'll see if I can hunt for other varieties of potato onions and find out which one I'm growing.
I just went through the stored ones and took the last 7 big ones into the unheated guest room. It's at 14C at the moment, but it should drop under 12C soon. After a month at 12C I'll just plant them and grow them at the window. I am thinking that they have to start bolting early in spring already, before days are getting too long.

Alliums / Re: A diverse patch of shallots
« on: 2019-11-17, 04:12:09 AM »
I'm growing potato onions. Potatislök is exactly the name we use in Sweden for the round type of shallots. I like them a lot, because little onion seedlings end up as bird food too often, but they are not interested in shallots.
They do not survive my winters though. I have to keep them indoors and set them in spring. Usually I have a few large braids of them for decoration. Anything that shows signs of turning soft is eaten and the leftover firm ones get planted end of April or May.
I tried anything to have them flower. I was hoping to cross them with my hardy spring onions, those have gotten better in surviving winters over the past years. If I can cross them I might find a shallot type that survives winter. But the shallots/potato onions just refuse to flower for me. Not sure if it is the variety or something else like photoperiod, temperatures or the short season. I even started some indoors in winter, and planted outside as well as in the greenhouse during growing season. They all divided and bulbed up without flowering. Sigh. I will try to get my hands on other varieties to see if they can be convinced to flower.
My potato onions are always the first ones to flop over and are ready for harvest in early July. The yellow onions that I start from seed in February are ready in August

Community & Forum Building / Re: Let's Talk Soils!
« on: 2019-11-17, 01:43:02 AM »
I also need that 700:1 ratio material ;D and chicken poop.
Mulching with barkchip is a wonderful thing.
Fun fact is that wood chip is a big no no in a cold climate. The soil takes forever to warm up under wood chip. It shortens the growing season for a month here. The finer it is the worse it becomes for gardening. Sawdust used to be popular to conserve lake ice until summer in the old times before freezers existed.
Bark chip is dark and warms up a lot quicker.

I have started a hügelkultur area as a long term project too. Kind of. It's will not be an actual hügel, it's an uneven hole in my property. I fill it with the unusable wooden stuff (branches, needles, rotten tree parts and occasional leafs) from making firewood. Half of the branches goes to coal production for the terra preta bed, the other half fills that hole and will eventually be covered with soil and become a berry bush and raspberry area. Another two years probably until it's filled.

Community & Forum Building / Re: Let's Talk Soils!
« on: 2019-11-15, 06:30:01 AM »
Bio char aka terra preta works great and helps a lot with nutrient and water buffering capacity in acidic sand soil. One of my potato beds is a mulched terra preta bed, really love how it works.
I'm also adding char to my compost bin. A layer in the bottom catches runoff and charges the coal at the same time. Some char inbetween on occasion also helps to keep it from becoming too soggy.

Bentonite clay is a fascinating subject. There are different kinds of it and not all of them are suitable for gardening. Agricultural bentonite is calcium bentonite. The pond liner that swells a lot is natrium bentonite or natrium enriched calcium bentonite, not ideal for growing plants because of adding too much salt for most soils. It seems to be easy to get calcium bentonite for sand soil improvement in many countries, but Sweden is not one of them. Found one product 6kg for almost 500 SEK (around 50 USD) + postage. That's silly.
Which brings me back to the bentonite used for kitty litter lol. The gardening relevant part in bentonite is the Montmorillonite, the higher the content the better. Non clumping litter has less Montmorillonite in it than the clumping one. Calcium bentonite and natrium bentonite are both used, possibly even mixes of them. But only a few brands are actually telling the customer which kind is used in in their product.
However it should be possible to tell the difference at home by checking how much water the litter absorbes. Calcium bentonite absorbes and swells less, about 1,1-1,4l water/kg litter. Natrium bentonite absorbes 1,4-4l water/kg litter (impressive!)
So for soil amendment it will be best to look for unscented clumping litter that absorbs ~0,1l per 100g. Probably the cheaper noname products with customer reviews mentioning that it is not absorbing enough kitty business.
The cheap no name clumping litter that I have at home is absorbing about 0,1l of water per 100g litter. Just tested that. It seems usable for the garden and it should work to spread cat litter with a regular spreader cart without being too messy... at least on a dry day.
I think I'll do a test run about good ratios for my soil. There are some pepper starts from an F3 that need repotting.

Community & Forum Building / Re: Let's Talk Soils!
« on: 2019-11-14, 06:11:16 AM »
I could order top soil with clay at the 'truck central', they sell top soil of all kinds from building sites. Should be in the garden budget. But you never know what you'll get with it... in terms of possibly harmful stuff for the garden. Soil pathogenes, weed killers, weeds, invasive species of slugs or plants... I heard so many horror stories that it does not feel safe to buy dirt there.
The kitty litter is a brilliant idea. I'm actually buying an unscented bentonite one, but have not thought of it as valuable clay source. Got to do some reading on that subject.

Community & Forum Building / Re: Let's Talk Soils!
« on: 2019-11-13, 07:55:46 AM »
This reminds me of my first year gardening at our house. I dug into the lawn, excited to start the first garden beds... found an inch of top soil above orange sand... just flipped the grass back up and went hiding from the gardenproject for a while lol it was the worst I had ever seen. Like a kids sand box.
I never did a proper laboratory soil test, they are rather pricy here. But I did a simple mud jar test and found it to be 90% gritty sand, a little silt, no clay and very little organic material. The water in the jar had cleared up in a day.
Found out that the natural dirt on my property is early deposited  glacier sand with plenty of iron, a bad deficiency in lime and a PH of 5.4
I've been adding compost, mulch, garden lime, ashes, chicken and rabbit manure ever since. Things have improved a lot in the older garden areas. However I'm adding new garden beds almost every year. It is very interesting to compare the oldest areas with newer areas, it's quite a jump in soil quality.
It is fascinating to see how much time it takes to build up organic material in soil. There never seems to be enough compost and garden waste. But I finally found a small sawmill that is happy to just get rid of their bark chip ;D this should speed up the soil building somewhat.

Asters / Re: Dahlias and other edible flowers
« on: 2019-11-13, 02:25:22 AM »
That's some amazing roots!
I don't pay much attention to how tall the plants are getting. When I plant them in a spot where they should not be too tall I trim them pretty hard while they are small. They just branch out and grow more bushy. Dahlias are pretty forgiving to early trimming.
My attempts at dividing the root clumps were not very successful to be honest. The growth points are so close to the stem and the roots are so brittle that I end up damaging them a lot. I guess it's one of those things with a steep learning curve where early attempts fail a lot, but with practice it's getting easier. Hopefully! I was using garden clippers, but next time I'll try with a sharp curved knife, maybe that will work better.
Your overwintering setup will work when it's below the frost line in the ground.
Rule of thumb for root cellars is that they need to be at least the same depth as the building recommendations for in ground water pipes. For me that means 1,5m (almost 5 feet) but in other climate zones you need way less... ;) I'm having major gardening envy right now, still digging Dahlias in November is fantastic! I forgot a spade in the compost heap and it's frozen stuck since almost a month... won't get it back before April lol.

Plant Breeding / Re: Diploid potato? Wild Tomato?
« on: 2019-11-07, 04:17:58 AM »
There are a lot of older tetraploid varieties that have a tendency to produce smaller tubers and a good harvest. I think the popularity of breeding for the large tuber varieties came with machine harvesting and processing. I grew some old tetraploid varieties from the Canary Islands this year and was really pleased with their over all harvest of golf ball sized tubers. A little work intense to get them out of the soil, but really neat for serving them whole.
Diploids have smaller harvests for me too, they do not like my long day conditions. They also have a much shorter storage life. Which makes them unattractive for my northern garden. I can see how they are interesting for warm climate areas where you could do two or three harvests, but for short summer areas they are not really worth growing. Even with excellent storage conditions the seed tubers in spring are looking quite bad. If a tetraploid seed tuber would look that bad in spring lol I'd compost it and not even try to plant it.
The only reason I'm playing around with diploids are their scab resistance (still hoping to breed them with a tetraploid one day), their good taste and the vibrant flower colours. But as of now they are more of an edible flower border oddity for me than a true food crop.

Asters / Re: Dahlias and other edible flowers
« on: 2019-09-30, 11:11:12 AM »
Taking them up before or shortly after frost does not really matter. I've seen long time flowergardeners do it both ways.

I dug them now because I am unsure how bad the frost will be. The ground is quite cold already and I am worried that the roots could be damaged when the surface of the soil freezes over for a day or two.
And I typically clean the roots by dumping them into the rainbarrel ;) the last rainbarrel got emptied and stored for winter today.

Asters / Re: Dahlias and other edible flowers
« on: 2019-09-30, 02:17:41 AM »
All of mine are uprooted now, they are drying in the greenhouse atm and I'll put them into storage in the evening.
There were two root types, most plants had chubby roots and just some were long and thin. I do not really eat them, but I still do not like the long roots. They are awfully fragile when digging and in storage. Broken tubers rot and don't feed the plant next year. No good.
Of course some of my favourite flowers had the thin root type lol
At least the early white flowered one has round roots. I got selfed seed from that one, nothing else was flowering at that time, hopefully it shows in the root type of the next seedlings.

Asters / Re: Dahlias and other edible flowers
« on: 2019-09-28, 04:21:09 PM »
It sounds like more work than I'm putting into them.
I only have three plants that made mature seeds, three bags of labled seed was done quickly. It will be interesting to see if the next generation is noticeably earlier already or if the percentage of early seedlings needs more generations to increase significantly.
A killing frost is overdue here. It's been an unusually rainy and mild autumn, they had more time to make seeds than in a normal year. But on Monday proper night frost should end the season, we will have a clear night sky then and that means frost at this time of the year. It's about time to have a look at the tubers tomorrow :)

Plant Breeding / Re: Big Feesh Pepper project
« on: 2019-09-25, 12:59:25 AM »
Fish Pepper is a great variety for breeding. I have done some crosses with it and with other variegated varieties and the Fish Pepper crosses were always so much better in taste.

Variegation is indeed recessive, 1 in 4 plants of the F2 will be variegated. In addition not all variegated plants will have good stripes on the fruit too. They have varying degrees of expression.

When you are looking for thicker walled crosses or bigger fruit, those are recessive traits too.

Culling the green leafed F2 early is a good method to save space.

I grew out 15 variegated F2 plants this year. Didn't have room for more. None of them had the second fruit feature I was looking for :P breeding statistics are one thing and breeders luck is another. Wasn't lucky this year, but I'll try again next year.

Potatoes / Re: TPS 2019
« on: 2019-09-19, 02:27:11 AM »
I had some aerial tubers here and there on most varieties. For me they are mainly caused by slugs, they appear when the stems are eaten. Lots of slugs this year due to all the rain... just good I didn't grow much salad lol

We are getting the first ground frosts now and first air frost in the morning is close. Most mornings are around 2C now. Potato season is officially over. I'm harvesting and screening the TPS seedlings now.

The Unknown Early TPS were rubbish, they were badly affected by the cold and wet start of the season and I discarded all of them. No keepers.

The Linda TPS were indeed pollinated by something blue. They were ok, but nothing too special. I'll keep two fluffy starchy ones to see how they are doing next year, but they are probably no long term keepers.

The Heiderot F2 TPS were cool because of very even colour distribution through the potato flesh. They almost stayed the same colour when cooked. I'm keeping 2 with good colour that seem to be starchy but still firm.

The pictures have the raw potatoes on top and the cooked result below. Linda TPS: yellow fleshed long and the blueish one, Heiderot F2: purple and blue round ones.

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