Tag Archives: experiments


My licorice is poking up!  Three, maybe four have sprouted.  According to the very optimistic instructions on the seed packet (“germination is poor and difficult”), it’s lucky to have any sprouts  at all “hatch”.  I want to know if the tiny sprouts taste like licorice, but I’ll restrain myself.

Licorice is my experiment de année.

Then there’s the kale:Kale is so vigorous, and fast, and rugged.  I’ve never started kale indoors, nothing other than direct seeding, but, why not.  I like kale.

Melons and hens

I got a few watermelons this year, that was exciting.  Yellow flesh and pink flesh melons. Watermelons before:

And after:And a little later:The chickens love their melons.

Speaking of melons – a bucket of cucamelons.  Weird little things, supposed gourmet items, exTREMEly productive. They are starting to fall off in the GH, raining like hail.  To the pigs, as usual.

A rubber egg, almost perfectly intact.That won’t last long


The hens are enthusiastically emptying out the bucket of greens.  Chard and green cabbage yes, celery and red cabbage, no thanks. They have to reach down a bit farther. 


This little beast, the Deputy, lower right, thinks he’s the big king now.Look at all those ladies he’s managing.  This is the second in command Silkie rooster, who has recently decided to organize the house hens – the layer hens who hang around our house, mooching and sunning in the paths.  Now he thinks he’s a big boss.  Some of them even let him mate them, which is truly awkward.  He’s so small, sometimes he tips over and falls off of them.  If hens could roll their eyes.

The Colonel concerns himself with his own breed, and the young Ameracuana roos that are coming up haven’t come into their oats yet and are still meek.


Cold nights

Proper frost.  Not the first.  We got a squash-killing frost Sep 30.

Chicken water

The outdoor sunflowers are finished.  They didn’t tip over like the GH sunnies, growing strong stems from living outside.  I spread them out on top of the wood stove (hmm, it’s cold and I could stand to start a fire but now I can’t), because if I spread them out on the floor again, then…Dum dum dadum. Here come(s) the mice!(bride).I experimented with ripping the backs off the heads, since there’s kind of a hollow stem and air pocket.  My theory is that less organic matter to get soft and mouldy means faster drying seeds. My entire take of homegrown sunflower seeds this year will be approximately one day’s wild bird ration.  I feed the birds 7 bags of black oil seeds in the winter.  That’s a fair chunk of Saskatchewan sunflower field.  I want to get good at growing them – lots of them, but so far am bad at it.  I love the fractal quality of the seed heads.  Magical.

OMG, peanuts!  They look like real little peanuts.  I couldn’t wait to open them.  Inside they’re jammed in like peas, the pod is soft and wet, and they taste not much like a peanut.  They taste like a raw bean.  Fun preliminary success with the experiment of the year.  I think they’ll be much happier in the greenhouse next year.

I think this cold spell might have put paid to the fruit flies too (calloo, callay!).

Experiments of the year: sweet potatoes and cucamelons

What fun is gardening without some wacky experiments?

  1. Sweet potatoes.

I got six vines from Vesey’s, which arrived in rather pathetic condition (the packaging disclaimed wretched looking vines as “normal” and claimed they would perk up.  To be fair, they did.  Five of them made it).  Since they supposedly like under-watering, I left them mostly alone after initial establishment, although the underwatering got a little extreme in this terribly dry summer.  The vines were small, but had lovely purpley-green leaves.

I dug ’em up in September.  No idea what to expect.


Vine 1 – Uhoh.  Off to a bad start.


Vine 2 – Oh, that’s more like it.


Vine 3 – That’s actually a real sized potato.

Unfortunately, there were no more potatoes still in the ground from these vines.  One vine = one potato.  NOT an impressive yield.  No efficiency points for area:productivity.  That’s the gamble with experiments.

But they made one very tasty meal.

2.  Cucamelons

These took off in the greenhouse.  Three vines swarmed up their strings and headed across the cross-ties, producing loads of these weird little grape-sized melons.

cucamelons-intro2Aptly named!  It tastes like a cucumber, or a melon, or is it a cucumber?  Totally bizarre combination of tastes.  If you’re like me, you probably haven’t had cucumber and melon in the same bite before.  Crunchy skin, like a cuke.

I have no pictures of my own because the guineas in the greenhouse enjoyed many more than I did.  This pic is from James Wong, who waxes more enthusiastic about the cucamelon than I do.

I’ll grow them again next year, though; they grow so easily, and I’ll try to find more to do with them.