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Tromboncino is my new favourite vegetable.   I got my seed from Diggers and I think they will displace zucchini in my garden. They grow like a very rampant cucumber, and by using lots of vertical space they conserve my precious intensively fenced ground space.

In my enthusiasm this year, I planted a couple of vines each planting break from late winter on. I now have one or two vines in each bed, growing up the south side fence, and I’ve got to the point where the neighbours and the chooks are just about over tromboncino and I don’t dare go away for the weekend for fear of them taking over the whole garden. Luckily I have a good repertoire of zucchini recipes, that all seem to work well with tromboncino.

I am going to try to see how long they will keep growing through winter. I have one vine that is now almost a year old – survived right through last winter. It is not bearing well enough any more to justify it’s spot, and last winter was very mild,  but still, it’s impressive.

I have let a couple of the fruit grow out to save seed.  This is my first attempt at saving seed from them, so it’s experimental, but I figure they probably go much like pumpkin or cucumber.  I have been picking the fruit at this size – about 30 to 50 cm – for eating, so it has been interesting watching these ones growing, and growing, and growing.

The bulb at the bottom has the seeds in it, a bit like a butternut pumpkin. I’ve washed and dried them, and I shall test a couple for germination this month, though I suspect like the rest of their family they are really a hot weather crop.  We have been eating all the neck part like a pumpkin. It’s not the best pumpkin ever – a bit bland and watery, like a gramma – but it works fine in soups and stews, diced and steamed as a side dish, or in muffins and scones.

If the zombocalypse hits, I think we’ll be living on tromboncino, Jerusalem artichokes, and bush turkeys.

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This is the first year I’ve grown tromboncino, so I don’t know how normal this is. Most of them have had a light, lightly striped green skin with a pale, dense, zucchini-like flesh. But one plant is bearing darker green skinned tromboncino, with yellower, more squash-like flesh.

I’ve been watching and noticing to see if there is any difference in productivity or resilience, but the only difference I’ve been able to see is the fruit colour.

I like both types, and I’d like to grow both types next year so I am leaving a couple of fruit of each type to fully mature to save seed.  Trouble is, I have only one plant bearing the dark green type. I could try hand pollinating, using a male from the same vine to fertilise a female flower. 500m2 in Sydney has a good little post about how. But self-pollination is only successful about a third of the time with cucumbers, so I might not get any fertile seeds that way. And even if I do get fertile seeds, they will have all the problems of in-breeding. So I’m just going to hope that it’s not a recessive gene, and that the mama genes are strong enough to shine through whoever the bees decide to make the dad.

But I might, next year, try planting only one kind at a time so I can get some good second generation seeds of those dark green ones. I’d hate to lose the variety altogether.

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A seedy biscuit

This is the last of my Muesli Bar Challenge series for the year. The draft of this post has been in my drafts folder since the very first week.  It’s one of my old favourites – so easy, so healthy, so school lunch box acceptable.  As a gardener, I’m really conscious that seeds are concentrated sources of nutrients – complex carbohydrates  that fuel a plant’s early growth, protein to allow it to create new cells, phytonutrients to protect it.  You can make these with or without nuts as well, depending on your school’s nut policy.

A whole four terms of Challenge recipes, and not one has come home uneaten.  Take that, LCMs!

The Recipe:

Into the food processor, put:

  • two eggs,
  • two dessertspoons (60 grams) butter,
  • two dessertspoons of brown sugar.
  • two heaped dessertspoons of wholemeal self-raising flour.

Blend this mix well, then add a cup full of nuts and/or seeds. I used pepitas, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds cashews,  macadamias and almonds, but you can use any combination.  You can blend this very briefly, just enough to break up the bigger nuts but not enough to blend, or you can just stir them in whole.  Large nuts might need rough chopping but whole seeds give a good texture. In the photo I left them whole, but in this latest batch that the kids are reviewing I blended briefly.

Add half a cup of sultanas. Organic sultanas are worth the expense if you can find them. You can taste the difference, and they haven’t been coated in cottonseed oil. If your school has a no-nuts policy, stick to just seeds.

Butter a baking tray and put spoonfuls on it. The biscuits will spread as they cook so give them room. Bake in a moderately hot oven for 10 to 15 minutes till nicely browned. Cool on the tray (they crispen as they cool).

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