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Fruiting Planting Days in Early Summer

Seeds for summer planting

The trouble with luffas is that I want them for Christmas, to go with my handmade soap. But I can’t plant them early enough here for them to mature and then allow time to clean and dry before Christmas.

So every fruiting planting day through spring, I get the seed packet out, look at it, decide that they will like the weather a bit hotter and since they won’t be ready for Christmas anyway they can wait, and put it back in the seed box. Then the the zucchini and squash start making like triffids and I forget that I swore and declared I would plant only one cucumber each planting break, and  I remember how many varieties of beans I want to find space for, and by this time of year, I get the luffa seed packet out, look at it, decide that there really isn’t room this month and put it back.

Then every Christmas I think, wouldn’t it be perfect to have some luffas to go with the soap.

So this time, I planted some seeds.  They’re old seed, left-over-never-planted last year’s poor neglected seeds.  But if they germinate, I am determined to find them some space and next Christmas, I’ll have luffas.

This gardening really is practice in deferred gratification!

Besides the luffas, I planted just a few seeds each of zucchini, button squash, tromboncino, rockmelon, and cucumbers (Chinese Snake this time).  All in individual pots. I shall keep them in the shadehouse for a few weeks and then choose the strongest one or two of each to plant out into the garden.  I also planted a couple of dozen each of Purple King, Blue Lake and Red Seeded Snake beans, two to a pot, and I’ll plant them out in a few weeks when they’re 15 cm or so tall. And some sweet corn – just 12 plants which is probably too few in a patch to guarantee pollination so I’ll have to hand pollinate, but I have 2 small patches in already and there just  isn’t room for more.

And I planted a row of seed of tomatoes (Principe Borghese and yellow cherry), eggplant (Mini Violet Ruby this time) and capsicum in a seed raising box. I’ll transplant the strongest half dozen of each into individual pots at the two leaf stage, then out into the garden when they are a good 15 cm or so tall.  This will be the last round of eggplants and capsicums for the season.  The summer solstice is just a few weeks away now.

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{ 13 comments… add one }
  • Julie December 5, 2011, 4:54 am

    Linda how do you determine which planting days are best? Will you have to protect the luffas from fruit fly stings?

  • Gillian December 5, 2011, 9:48 am

    Well I have some luffa that I harvested from last year, but still have not got around to making soap! I have planted three luffa vines this year and hopefully next Christmas I will have gathered up the courage to make soap and can combine the two.

  • Linda December 5, 2011, 9:52 am

    Hi Julie, I don’t seem to be troubled with fruit fly on luffas, or on any curcubits. I am right at the southern end of the range for cucumber fruit fly, and luffas with their relatively tough skin and lack of sugars would be the least favoured curcubit anyway. But you are in a much more tropical location so it may be different for you.

    Which planting days – I use a lunar planting calendar, more for its benefit in keeping me organised and in a nice easy routine than anything else. I’m not 100% sure it makes a difference to germination or vitality of seedlings – it seems to, but that’s not a very scientific experiment – I very much believe we influence things with our beliefs, in subtle ways, for good and bad. It does, however, keep me in a routine of planting something most weeks and going back to consider a successive planting of the same thing a month later. So it works really well for me to avoid the boom-bust cycle of gardening. I don’t preserve much, and I don’t have a freezer – partly because they use more power than I am willing to spend, partly because it’s work, and partly because eating fresh picked in season food is so much nicer. So having continuity of supply out of my garden is something I really value. I cheat a bit on the lunar calendar to work it in around a working week, but it does create some structure and avoid overwhelm.

  • Julie December 5, 2011, 8:39 pm

    Oh that’s it Linda, lovely, thanks, just what i needed and for just about the same reasons you gave (although i do have a freezer, just never enough room in it! ).
    Ordered some luffa seeds, too, but keeping expectations low until proven otherwise ; ))

  • cecilia gunther December 6, 2011, 2:15 am

    I am pretty interested in the soap making! I once grew luffa and they were everywhere, I grew them up an old tree that had died and they just loved it. the tree was a new tree! But the getting out of the seeds and the cleaning of the luffa was so much work at such a busy time, i have not grown them again.. c

  • kim December 6, 2011, 6:25 am

    We planted luffas this season, but it has been so unseasonably cold that I don’t think they are ever coming up. It is times like this I would like to take the sceptics out in my yard and say, ‘see , climate change is real!’
    Great idea saving them for Christmas next year – will do the same if they grow.
    I have found hand pollinating a small patch of corn makes more sense for our garden too – we just get small amounts at a time in each patch,rather than a glut all at once.

  • Linda December 6, 2011, 11:55 am

    So true Gillian – two things that you have to think way ahead about, and different way aheads – now that’s a challenge!

  • Linda December 6, 2011, 12:02 pm

    Hi Celia, I’m very lucky to live near a running creek. Last time I grew them, I picked them mature but green (didn’t let them dry on the vine) and fermented the pulp off them in a bucket of water in the sun for a few days. Then I put them in a mesh bag in the creek for a few days to rinse in running water and let the little fish eat off the last of the flesh (too small a mesh for the seeds to get out – I didn’t want to risk the seeds getting out and becoming a weed). Then I put them in the washing machine for just a couple of minutes, in water with a cup of lemon juice, which agitated out all the seeds. Then dried them in the sun, which, with the lemon juice, bleached them. A four step process, but not much effort in any of the steps.

  • celia December 7, 2011, 7:27 am

    This cool weather is driving my poor garden a bit bonkers! Lots of rain means the everything is very well watered, but the lack of sun and warmth is impeding growth. The cucumbers grew well and have now just stopped. Lots of dwarf beans coming along though! 🙂

    I still haven’t had any luck getting snake beans to germinate – Linda, do you think we can grow them here in Sydney, or would it need to be much hotter? So far we still haven’t had any really warm days, and I can’t even get the seeds to germinate on top of the warm fishtank! 🙂

    I hope your tomatoes go well for you – I think we’re going to give them a break in the garden this year. Mind you, there are so many self-sown from last year that we might still get the odd tomato!

  • Linda December 7, 2011, 9:12 am

    Snake beans are native to south east Asia, so it may well be a bit cool for them in Sydney. Sadly. They are my very favourite bean. Come to think of it, mine are a bit slow this year. They’re healthy enough, but some years, they grow at the same rate that the geese seem to be growing.

  • Jason Dingley December 8, 2011, 3:44 pm

    Luffa! I had no idea what you were talking about… so I googled it.
    And did you know Luffas are also used to make the soles of beach sandals.

  • Linda December 8, 2011, 4:36 pm

    I didn’t know that Jason. But I don’t think any of mine will get to do that! They make lovely bath and shower sponges, and pretty good dish sponges. I wouldn’t use enough of either to bother with them, except that they make such good gifts.

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