Fun with Gardening

Gardener:Northland Backyard Gardener

Date:11 Oct 2022

Blog Type:Vegetables

Often advice for new gardeners is to grow what you eat. I agree to a point. When you first start out, absolutely, but then I think you can have a wee bit of fun, especially if you have young ones. We certainly try to. We also use to have a 'try one thing new each season' which has led us to trying new vegetables like Kohlrabi, and celeraic.

Luffas have been by far our most fun and interesting crop. And if I am honest, it started because of a seed catalogue and a 'I thought they washed up on beaches' comment. Last year we even had a giggle with the neighbour over the fence as he asked what they were (a couple had snuck over the fence). I explained. A day later he heard me in the garden again. He asked me to explain to again (note we were obscured by the fence at this point). All I could hear afterwards was 'see I told you you could use them in the bathroom'.

Today we start by soaking the seeds in some warm water, and then I usually place them in the hot water cupboard still in the container for 2 or 3 days before sowing. Once planted out, they will need a frame to grow up. As they mature, leave them on the vine until they feel light (usually this takes until autumn). Then peel, and remove seeds. Sometimes I need to dry a bit before removing seeds. I then bleach them before turning them into soaps and other products  (bleaching your vegetables really doesn't seem right when I think about it). While you can eat them while they are young, we are yet to do so.

Along with the luffa, Connor also started his kumara this morning. We don't tend to plant them out until November so still, have plenty of time. We start then off by placing the kumara in water. We like to poke skewers through them and sit them in a container. Once they sprout, we cut the sprout off with a wee bit of flesh still attached, then place it back in the water. From here, the roots develop. Once they have a good root system, plant out. Kumara don't need a deep planter box/garden to grow in. In fact they do better if they have a hard surface at the bottom, as this promotes the tubers to grow once the roots hit the bottom. I believe this is why they do well in northland (warm weather, combined with clay shelves underneath). Whilst ours would probably do well here with the clay shelf underneath, instead, we grow them in the kids' old paddling pool. As they vine outwards, we pile any meandering vines back on top of the main lot to avoid them taking root. We harvest around May (a good 5-6 months after planting out). 

Fun with Gardening