This morning we had a call from a gentleman in Greymouth who seems to have a gift for growing larger than normal vegetables and fruit. He told me that he had recently harvested a tamarillo the size of a soft-drink can. That is a rather large fruit. He took it into work and was proud to say the lady he gave it to had to eat it with a dessert spoon. He also did show and tell with his strawberries which he had placed on one of those Chinese takeaway plastic dishes and only managed to fit in three of the berries. Have you ever grown anything that came under the 'gigantic' label?
We often receive queries about wallflowers and a few months ago I took one such call from a lady in Bulls. She was very disappointed to hear we didn't stock the seed but told me an amazing story. Her Mum had been an antiques dealer and in 1961 brought back from the UK, some wallflower seeds. They had the most wonderful perfume and the daughter had recently found some of the seed that had missed being planted. She decided to give the 50+ year old seeds a go and actually managed to get a few of the seeds to germinate. You can imagine her surprise and delight and she informed me she will definitely be harvesting some seed for future enjoyment of the wonderful perfumed flowers.
Just this week we had a lady phone us about her Granite Melon that she is growing this summer. The melons are all growing nicely, but she has also discovered that some of the vine is growing the wee gherkin cucumbers. Sounds like some odd cross-pollination happened there. Maybe she could come up with a recipe that uses both?
One of our spring staff, Anne, sent us a picture (above) of a melon she discovered in her patch of melons and watermelons. It was orange on the inside like a cantaloupe but this strange pale colour and the shape of the banana melon. A rogue crossed seed? She assures us she had only planted one variety of rock melon and one of watermelons.
If you grow corn you may have experienced the weird growth at the top of some of your plants. It looks like an exposed cob and your first impression is that it has gone to seed. Gerard informs me this oddity is called Tassel-ear and he estimates about 1% of his crop has this each summer. During the normal growth and development, the female components of the tassel and the male components of the ear shoots abort, resulting in the unisex flowers we expect. Occasionally, the development alters and the mainly female hormonal aspects create these kernels which are unprotected. Without their protective husk they are open to the elements and birds so the kernels are usually not viable.
Look at this strange pumpkin grown by one of our customers. It seems to have an identity crisis. Does this demonstrate variety being the spice of life?? He took it to his local garden centre who sent it to us for identification. Not something that we managed to do but it was great to share with our customers.
Do any of you have photos of the weird and wonderful things nature is capable of producing in your garden? We would love to hear about them. And photos can be entered in our annual competition by emailing them to us. Go on.....don't be shy......share with us. The weirder, the better!!