Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Edibles (08 MAY 2012)

So far my main mission in this garden has been to propogate and nuture flowering plants. I trialled some edibles last year, sufficient to taste how delicious home-grown is compared to supermarket-bought, not enough for a satisfying meal.

I don't spend much on plants generally, this year especially because of the hose-pipe ban, seeking out quite a few in £1 shops and sales and planting them, fully prepared to lose them. Asparagus was a lucky find considering that I was eyeing up my hyacinth shoots which look similar. I've heard that it grows quickly, emerging out of the soil while you wait. Drought-tolerant cape gooseberry would not be my fruit of choice, though they might be useful as a substitute if the cherry tomatoes dry up.

The roots were planted a few weeks ago; there are no signs of life above ground yet.

cape gooseberry roots
asparagus roots

Chillies, tomatoes and various brassica seeds have also been sown with varying levels of success.
Chillies haven't germinated after several weeks - I remain hopeful as late seedlings have surprised me before.
Tomatoes are growing their first set of true leaves, they never need much attention. I'll transplant them to the garden in stages so that fruit is yielded gradually during the summer, in portion-sized quantities.

As reported last week, most of the brassicas started eagerly then wilted, just as they did last year.
I feel it is about time to justify the title of this blog ...

There are 3 factors and 2 levels in this design of experiment :

Factor 1 : Exposure to sunshine
(because it looks like the seedlings are drying out even though the soil is moist)
Level  1  : Seed tray placed on the kitchen worktop
Level  2  : Seed tray placed on the kitchen floor

Factor 2 : Drainage
(because the compost packet says that it only contains nutrients for 6 weeks)
Level 1 : Deep seed tray with drainage holes
Level 2 : Shallow seed tray without drainage holes

Factor 3 : Seed variety 
(because the purple sprouting seem more robust than the romanesco broccoli seedlings)
Level 1 : Romanesco broccoli seeds
Level 2 : Purple sprouting broccoli seeds

All the seeds will be planted in fresh peat-free compost.
All the seedlings will be watered with a few drops of water every day.
No fertiliser will be added.

This gives an experiment with 8 possible combinations of factors and levels.
6 repetitions of each combination will ensure statistically significant results  ie. 48 seeds.
Watch this space for the results in a few weeks time.

My goal this year is to grow at least one proper crop of edible produce that I can eat freely and share with family and friends. At this point in time the outlook is not promising, but there's a plentiful supply of a low-carb option ...

Helix aspersa

British garden snails eat rat faeces (possibly infected with parasites which eventually affect the human brain) and can contain pesticides. Therefore if they are going to be eaten, they need to be collected with gloves, detoxified by purging them, and cooked thoroughly to kill parasites.
Here's a recipe from Gordon Ramsay.

Today I'm linking up with Christine and Barbie's May Harvest meme.

©Copyright 2012 b-a-g. All rights reserved. Content created by b-a-g for http://experiments-with-plants.blogspot.com/2012/05/edibles-08-may-2012.html


linniew said...

I'm going to keep my fingers crossed for the asparagus b-a-g because I feel strongly that you probably shouldn't eat those toxic snails.

debsgarden said...

I think I will skip the snails! Good luck with your asparagus! It is one of my all time favorite veggies, though i have never grown it. This summer I am growing only tomatoes, peppers, and basil, along with a winter garden leftover, swiss chard, which will play out during the hottest part of summer. Should make for some good salsa.

Stacy said...

Well. So that's how you purge a snail. Good to know, just in case...

Chiles are soooooo slow to germinate. Three weeks or whatever the packets say it takes is overly optimistic, except when they're planted in the heat of summer. Looking forward to seeing the results of your brassica experiments!

Anonymous said...

I was smiling when I got to your second sentence, "I trialled some edibles last year,...". It reminded me so much of how my brother, the electrical engineer, approaches everything he does. You can see the scientist in you right from the get go on this post. Then we get into the meat of the experiment....Then you end the post with snail snacking and a link to a recipe to eat the slimy suckers. Just like my brother would have done... I had to smile the whole way through. I enjoyed the post quite a bit.

Andrea said...

Oh i didn't know that some garden snails can be eaten! I smiled at your experiment, those are lots of factors you are doing at the same time, very difficult.As you said you will be satisfying statistical requirements, did you provide enough replications for a randomized complete block factorial experiment? This is the most difficult design i can imagine, hahaha. Minimizing error in the field is what i find so difficult, so i stayed indoors and do the complete randomized designs, but a bit difficult also with factorials. Good luck. I am still smiling.

Mark and Gaz said...

I like the way you've planned it! Goodluck and cross fingers we get a good growing season this year and you have a plentiful harvest enough for several satisfying meals :)

b-a-g said...

Thanks Linnie - Don't worry I'm not planning on eating any snails. However if I had to, I would much rather eat one from my garden than from a restaurant.

Thanks Deb - Salsa sounds great. I'm going to make tomato and chilli relish if there's a surplus.

Thanks Stacy for confirming that chillies take a long time to germinate. I'll keep watering and hoping.

Thanks Donna - I touched a slug by accident once. It was wet rather than slimy.

Thanks Andrea - I don't think I need to do randomization in this experiment because the runs don't follow each other. Having said that I'll plant a few extra seeds just in case.

Thanks Mark & Gaz - I can only dream of a plentiful harvest ...

Crystal said...

Good luck with the asparagus. Apparently, there's a shortage this year because of the weather.
Strangely, there's no shortage of snails though.

Donna@Gardens Eye View said...

I will never eat snails...just can't get past the look etc. I have done lots of research through books and blogs so tomatoes are now easy for me to grow from seed but we shall see once they hit the garden. Hopefully no blight this year. Peppers also seem to be doing better. It is too bad about the ban since that limits what you can do. We have had too much rain. Over 3 inches in the first 9 days of May and tonight perhaps another inch. I also experimented with my seeds and will post results soon...flowers were not a big success but I know why now.Looking forward to your results.

The Sage Butterfly said...

I tried snails once a very long time ago, and they were not as bad as I thought. Cooked in garlic and butter helped a lot. However, I have not been able to stomach them since. Reading about them here, I think I will stay away from them. You have lots growing in your garden. Some of it sounds very yummy!

David Marsden said...

My chillies (sown at the end of March) also took weeks to show and even now are tiny with just the cotyledons showing. The asparagus is emerging though heavily munched by snails - which, incidentally, I won't be eating a la rat faeces or no. Interesting to see how it all turns out, b-a-g. Dave

Carolyn @ Carolyn's Shade Gardens said...

Truly disgusting about the snails. Why not eat slugs and then you don't have to remove the shell?

Alberto said...

Dear b-a-g, did you know that Gordon Ramsay also eats scorpions and deep fried tarantulas? I'd rather taste some mice crap, really. Nevermind for the parasites, I don't have a human brain actually, so I don't need to worry. I wonder if Ramsay likes custard though...

Anyway, I like your very scientific approach to tomato and broccoli seedlings, I actually went to the nursery and bought a couple of trays of 15cm tall tomatoes and just stuck them into the ground. I am more an accountant manager than a scientist and 2 € of grown plants cost less than peat, soil, drainage, seeds and pots and water and constant care. But you really make me wonder what is oging to happen to your experiment... :)

Anonymous said...

If it doesn't work throw out the science and try the art of gardening - throw the seeds on the compost, water when you remember and hey prest plants.

Christina said...

I didn't know that about snails; I've never eaten ones I've collected myself but I have in restaurants – do they know? Good luck with all the vegetable growing. It is the most satisfying part of gardening but also the most frustrating. Christina

b-a-g said...

Thanks Crystal - I'm sure that the snails are bigger than ever this year. Still no sign of an asparagus shoot.

Thanks Donna - I haven't experienced blight yet. I like to think that I prevented it by planting vegetables amongst the flowers.

Thanks Christina, Carolyn, Dave & Sage Butterfly - If it's any comfort, I think snails would much rather eat plants than dirt. Here's a piece of research about an outbreak of meningitis in Jamaica and how it was traced to rats & snails : http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/8/3/01-0316_article.htm

Thanks Alberto - I didn't know that ...
You're right it is probably more cost effective to buy plants, but then I wouldn't have much to blog about.

Thanks Christine (CG) - I'm going to use your suggestion as my control sample.

Christine @ The Gardening Blog said...

I remember as a child that my parents considered snails a great delicacy. I could never quite understand it. Still don't :).

I'll be very interestyed to see your progress. I'm so new to veggie gardening and its all trial and error here. I've not been very successful with seeds thus far.

Alistair said...

Hi b-a-g, thanks for the detailed information on snails, (I think) Highly unlikely that I would be eating them anyway. Hope your experiments give you the results you hope for. Even I have edibles this year, tomatoes in the greenhouse, that's where they will stay as they don't develop outdoors in Aberdeen. I also have peppers, cucumber and aubergine, I wonder if I should also do some companion planting in the borders.

Laura Bloomsbury said...

the vegetarian diet looks promising as at least one of those factors must be the secret of success. Looks more appetising than the high-protein diet anyway ;)
p.s. have awarded you my seed giveaway so pls contact me with your address laura52 at tiscali co uk (I'll leave you to fill in the dots!)

b-a-g said...

Thanks Laura, Christine & Alastair - The good news is that a tiny asparagus shoot has now appeared but you're not supposed to eat them in the first year because the plant needs to build up its strength.

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