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Latest posts by Italophile

Talkback: How to grow salad leaves from seed

Posted: 11/08/2012 at 08:32

I try to when I stumble over these old threads.



Posted: 11/08/2012 at 07:24

Or, for delicious flavour, you can wrap them in foil with a bunch of herbs and bake at 180C for about 45 minutes for smaller beetroot, maybe an hour and a bit for bigger ones. Test them with a fine skewer. When the skewer slides easily into them, they're cooked. Let them cool till you can handle them. The skins will rub off easily with your fingers. Slice them, dress with good EVOO and a splash of good vinegar and some P&S.

Don't forget, too, that the leaves and stems make a delicious salad. Blanch the stems for about 30 seconds, add the leaves for another 30 seconds, drain and dry very well. Dress with good EVOO, good vinegar and some P&S.


Posted: 10/08/2012 at 17:32

A huge Italian tom? What shape? Oxheart? Beefsteak?

Fig trees

Posted: 10/08/2012 at 16:41

Chris, re planting in the ground. I don't know how big your garden is but figs don't need to take up as much space as Lily's. Just as they thrive with contained roots in containers, the same applies when they're in the ground. You effectively plant them in a box to contain the roots. Dig a hole about 3' x 3' and 2' deep. Line the sides vertically with something like pavers or even bricks with their tops just above soil level. Spread clean gravel or stones in the bottom of the box. Plant the fig with plenty of good soil. It's how I planted my fig in the garden. Left to their own devices, figs in the ground can and will grow into monsters. Mine will never top about 10' and I control the width. It thrives.

Just another option to consider.

Fig trees

Posted: 10/08/2012 at 16:03

Chris, you prune when dormant, but if you leave it till late winter/very early spring you should score a couple more trees out of the pruning. Take roughly 6" cuttings from the tips of the branches that come off. Poke them into damp potting mix in small pots, keep them nice and warm - inside plastic bags would help - and keep an eye on them. As soon as you see the beginnings of green growth on the cuttings you'll know they've taken. Pot them up the following autumn. Fig cuttings root very easily. My fig in its container and one I planted in the garden both came from cuttings taken in very early spring.


Carrot bed

Posted: 10/08/2012 at 08:15

All you can do is make sure the soil is extremely friable down to about 12" (depending on the variety you're growing) with no lumps or other impediments for the carrots to run into. Fresh manure or fertiliser is a no-no, too, though it doesn't sound like that's your problem. Plenty of sun and warmth helps too.

What variety are you growing? I very highly recommend Amsterdam Forcing. They're early, very reliable, beautifully sweet, and harvested at roughly 4-6 inches, so you can get away with a shallower bed.


Posted: 10/08/2012 at 07:57

We love celeriac, too, but eventually gave up on it here in central Italy. They need warmth but it's just too hot for them here in summer regardless of how much water I poured on them. In my experience, a lack of root (bulb) development is usually a sign of a lack of nutrients. They're pretty heavy feeders, they love a nice, rich soil, and some fertiliser along the way. Insufficient warmth can also be a factor.


Posted: 10/08/2012 at 06:57

Or you can leave one to develop, snip it off with sharp secateurs or scissors, poke it into a small pot of damp potting mix, keep it in warm shade as you would any cutting, and you'll have a brand new plant without the hassle of starting seed and waiting. It's how I generate my autumn crops.

Fig trees

Posted: 10/08/2012 at 06:52

Looks line a nice plant, Chris. If you plan to keep it in a container, I'd pot it up into something like a 30cm container for a year or two. It's already looking rangy too. Figs in containers are better off wide rather than tall so you need to encourage side growth. In winter, when it's dormant, I'd take off at least the top third and probably more.

What are your plans for it?


Posted: 09/08/2012 at 13:20

When I last looked into it - back in Sydney - the only suggestions involved things like spraying the concentrated wee of predatory animals. The squirrels were supposed to detect the smell, fear for their lives, and flee. I never found out how you obtained such a thing.

The cages I built were very simple affairs. Three or four stakes in the ground, wrapped in sturdy chicken wire, capped with some more chicken wire. You just have to allow yourself access to the plants.

I think, though, that you're only in trouble if the squirrels actually discover the fruit. Wait and see.



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