A Seed Saver's Garden

heirloomgal

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We finally completed the mammoth task of tearing out the entire front yard perennial garden, which was huge. The enormous cedar that was in the centre is now gone too, so the slate is clear. Feels odd since that garden has been right full of perennial flowers for about 15 years. A very, very small handful of the flowers I kept, ones that I don't think insects will bother with + the peonies, which I couldn't part with. Edible landscaping is now the plan.

I am amazed by the tenacity and endurance of all those plants though, they multiplied and redistributed themselves without any help from me. I planted them once and never bothered with them again. Shasta daisies, echinops, sedums, echinacea, brown eyed susans, cranesbill geraniums, chinese lanterns, feathergrasses, creeping jenny, perennial forget me nots, Russian sages, Persian cornflowers, blue cornflowers, lady's mantle, bellflowers, lungwort, phlox, globeflowers, the list goes on. The whole bed was just matted with roots and it was quite a feat to turn the soil over with a pitchfork around the few plants I left in place. DH tilled the rest because it was so laborious.

Even the tulips & daffodils that I planted, I think 3 years ago now, have come back up again in perfect condition, this despite the fact that once they bloom I immediately cut the leaves from the bulbs, dig them up and toss them in a box. I never let them dry down naturally. And for the third year they've returned as perfect as they were the first year. The only bulbs that wore down and petered out were the hyacinths. Quite surprising really, it's been a bit of an experiment and not the results I expected.

This edible front yard project will be great fun.
 
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Pulsegleaner

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Update 5/10/24

The peas have actually started to flower (well, one has), so at least there's a good chance that, whatever else, I'll have some more seed to play around with in the future.

Lost the last gherkin seedling, so I'm just going to direct seed with some cucumber seeds I found in a pill bottle (probably Dosaki, but I have no way of knowing,) along with the Delaware Creeping Cucumber seeds I got from the OSSI (basically, a really north hardy form of the Guadeloupe cucumber, so more like a Mexican Sour Gherkin.)

Lost the one mung sprout that was there (think the cat may have chewed it) but that does mean I can sift the soil in the pot, retrieve the seeds that didn't imbibe, scarify them, and try again, so I'll probably actually come out better.

Decent number of wild pepper seedlings now (there are way to many in the pot to think they're weeds anymore.)

Sunday is Mother's day, so I guess it's probably OK to put the tomatoes out.

Might as well put the pot with the coriander plant out as well (it's already bolted and flowering, so I might as well let the insects get to it and get a chance at some seeds at least.)

I've probably lost most of the second surprise corn sprouting (I just tossed them in a pot and covered them with what soil I had, so some may still be alive, but I imagine most have just dried up) but the first are still going strong (if a little cramped in their peat plugs), So as soon as I can get the pansies and chestnuts out of the cold frame, I can start potting those up and letting them get on (the original three are now so far grown it's probably safe to just plant them outside right now.)

With the Gherkins gone and me planning to stick the cucumbers in directly, I had a vacant pot, so I stuffed it with the pits from the jackfruit I was eating at the time. This time, maybe I'll get a treelet or two for indoors (jackfruit seedlings grow quite readily, IF you can get them into something big enough soon enough.) It's probably pretty futile ( I KNOW I'll never get a jackfruit tree indoors big enough to produce fruit, and it's way too cold for one outside here.) but it would be nice to have a confirmed orange flesh one. Maybe, if I get a lot of seedlings, I can sell some of them on eBay or Etsy (if I can BUY treelets there, I should be able to SELL them there as well.)
 

heirloomgal

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Chestnuts, that's not the average kind of seed. I guess the tree will be hardy in your location?

Jackfruit, something I've always wanted to try...fresh. Same with papaya, guava, jelly melon, cactus fruits, figs, mangosteen, durian. I see them in the stores and the price never seems justified for an experiment. I did try quince though, but a single fruit is nearly $4. It's certainly a tasty fruit when cooked.
 

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Chestnuts, that's not the average kind of seed. I guess the tree will be hardy in your location?
I hope so. These aren't any of the major ones. They're Pearl chestnuts and Chinese Chinquapins (both went in, don't know which, if not both, came up) which are more like shrubs than trees.
Jackfruit, something I've always wanted to try...fresh. Same with papaya, guava, jelly melon, cactus fruits, figs, mangosteen, durian. I see them in the stores and the price never seems justified for an experiment. I did try quince though, but a single fruit is nearly $4. It's certainly a tasty fruit when cooked.
Jackfruit is very sweet. The best way I can describe the flavor is like a banana, but juicy.

Not a big fan of papaya or guava. Jelly Melons don't really taste of much of anything, basically just slightly sour and melon-y ( if you've ever eaten an overripe cucumber, like that.).

Cactus fruits vary depending on the cactus in question. The two big ones, prickly pear and dragon fruit (red or yellow) both taste sort of watermelon like, but, fresh, have a very mucilaginous, slimy texture. Plus, prickly pears have lots of large, woody seed.

Figs taste like, well, figs. Again, melon like notes.

Mangosteen CAN be very good, but a lot of them are frozen to get here, and deteriorate rapidly. And yes, it is VERY expensive for what you actually get (you lose most of the mass of the fruit in rind and seeds) (yes, there are supposedly heath giving compounds in the rind as well but trust me, you do not want to eat it voluntarily.) Oh, and if, when you open a fruit up, you see any bright yellow spots throw that one out (that's the sap, and the sap is poisonous.)

Durian is an odd one. Again it comes frozen (so no growing your own). The best way I can describe it is if you mixed vanilla ice cream with French Onion soup. Not a favorite of mine, I'm content to leave them to the orangutans.
 

heirloomgal

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Dragonfruit is the fruit of a cactus? I had no idea. I tried it once a long time ago, I recall it being mildly sweet with white flesh that seemed embedded with kiwi seeds. The look of it's exterior is wild.

I've tried litchis too, which I really grew to like, and I will buy those if I see them on the shelves. Never seen rambutans outside of being canned, seems like the hairy cousin somehow. But I don't love them like I do apples or pears or grapes; in abundance they're a bit too perfume-y and when it comes to anything sweet I always prefer the pleasures of home. I love food from many cuisines around the world, but the sweets are all mostly a pass for me. Few things can beat apple pie et. al. to me, hits the soul in all the right places. I used to have a thing for besan burfi and made it all the time, but that affection passed long ago. I think it reminded me of peanut butter, which is forbidden in Ayurveda, which I was into at the time. I tried to teach myself to like Shrikhand and it was easy to make. Texture of it is good, but the undertow of sour can't be covered over. And saffron which is so commonly added to it, never appealed to me.

Of all the exotic fruits, which do you feel are the ones most worth trying considering the price tags attached? Seems to me figs might be worth it, but here you have to buy them by the box if you want to try them fresh. I've eaten them dried, and they were passable at best. I'd be stuck with a whole box if nobody likes them.
 

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Dragonfruit is the fruit of a cactus? I had no idea. I tried it once a long time ago, I recall it being mildly sweet with white flesh that seemed embedded with kiwi seeds. The look of it's exterior is wild.

I've tried litchis too, which I really grew to like, and I will buy those if I see them on the shelves. Never seen rambutans outside of being canned, seems like the hairy cousin somehow. But I don't love them like I do apples or pears or grapes; in abundance they're a bit too perfume-y and when it comes to anything sweet I always prefer the pleasures of home. I love food from many cuisines around the world, but the sweets are all mostly a pass for me. Few things can beat apple pie et. al. to me, hits the soul in all the right places. I used to have a thing for besan burfi and made it all the time, but that affection passed long ago. I think it reminded me of peanut butter, which is forbidden in Ayurveda, which I was into at the time. I tried to teach myself to like Shrikhand and it was easy to make. Texture of it is good, but the undertow of sour can't be covered over. And saffron which is so commonly added to it, never appealed to me.

Of all the exotic fruits, which do you feel are the ones most worth trying considering the price tags attached? Seems to me figs might be worth it, but here you have to buy them by the box if you want to try them fresh. I've eaten them dried, and they were passable at best. I'd be stuck with a whole box if nobody likes them.
Hard to sat. I can give you a long list of ones I DON'T think are worth the cost, but as for ones that are, that's a much shorter one, and vaguer.
A lot of the ones I'd recommend are a few of the milder citrus. Dekapons (usually called Sumo Mandarins) in this county, are generally pretty good, and it's nice to have a tangerine the size of a juice orange.

Ugli fruit CAN be good, IF you know how to pick one. I don't eat those anymore (since they are part Grapefruit, I'm worried what they might do if they interact with my statins.) The trick is you have to find one where the PEEL is orange (not as orange as an orange is but still orange). That tends to indicate one that is riper, and more towards it's tangerine than it's grapefruit side in flavor.

Key limes are great but as a cooking and drink ingredient, not as something you eat out of hand. You use them like you would use a lemon. Same thing with Yuzu, it's for cooking and drinks, not eating. And with Yuzu since most people are focusing on the rind/zest, finding any with any significant amount of juice in them is EXTREMELY hard. Yuzu's cousins Sudachi and Kabosu are also useful in their own ways, but those are so hard to find fresh your odds of locating any outside of a large Japanese grocery store are almost nil.

Calamansi/Calamondin makes a decent drink/cooking item. You usually can't buy those in stores, but trees are easy to get from nurseries, and they grow well as a houseplant. There, the trick is trying to find the RIGHT ONE for juice production (the commonest one isn't the best for that). I'd love to tell you what type that is, but even I haven't quite worked that one out yet.

I LOVE greengage plums (which might as well be an exotic fruit here in the U.S.) but, again, finding those is pretty close to impossible. Ditto mirabelle plums.

Beyond that, it's either a case by case basis, or really not worth it in my opinion. To me, longans (the third member of the Lichi/Rambutan trio) taste sort of moldy and mushroom-like (not in a good way*). Cherimoya/Atemoya/Sugar Apple/Bullock Heart are all sort of hit and miss. Soursop (Guanabana) is even more so, finding one that DOESN'T need the sugar coating is so rare that I still have the seeds from the last one I found, and that was WAY over a decade ago.
Don't like most kinds of passionfruit (okay with the oval kind, but almost never see that one). Don't like mango, papaya, or guava (regular OR strawberry (a.k.a. feijoa). Don't like ANY of the sapotes white or black, Don't like persimmons. Don't like sapodilla because the damn things have to be nearly rotten before you can even chew on them, and are sickeningly sweet then. Don't think Carambola (starfruit) is worth it, nor is lian wu/jambu/rose apple. Wong pei/Wampee tastes like an over sour, over resinous lemon crossed with a cough drop. Mamey apple tastes like an overly marshmallow covered sweet potato. Nance taste like you added sugar to Parmesan cheese. Tamarillo's (tree tomatoes) don't taste great to me. Pepino's taste like melon, and I don't like melon. Lulo/Naranjilla tastes super sour. Never worked out HOW to eat a cacao pod (the white stuff isn't worth the effort to scrape it off the seeds, and turning the seeds into chocolate is too complicated.)
 

heirloomgal

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Hard to sat. I can give you a long list of ones I DON'T think are worth the cost, but as for ones that are, that's a much shorter one, and vaguer.
A lot of the ones I'd recommend are a few of the milder citrus. Dekapons (usually called Sumo Mandarins) in this county, are generally pretty good, and it's nice to have a tangerine the size of a juice orange.

Ugli fruit CAN be good, IF you know how to pick one. I don't eat those anymore (since they are part Grapefruit, I'm worried what they might do if they interact with my statins.) The trick is you have to find one where the PEEL is orange (not as orange as an orange is but still orange). That tends to indicate one that is riper, and more towards it's tangerine than it's grapefruit side in flavor.

Key limes are great but as a cooking and drink ingredient, not as something you eat out of hand. You use them like you would use a lemon. Same thing with Yuzu, it's for cooking and drinks, not eating. And with Yuzu since most people are focusing on the rind/zest, finding any with any significant amount of juice in them is EXTREMELY hard. Yuzu's cousins Sudachi and Kabosu are also useful in their own ways, but those are so hard to find fresh your odds of locating any outside of a large Japanese grocery store are almost nil.

Calamansi/Calamondin makes a decent drink/cooking item. You usually can't buy those in stores, but trees are easy to get from nurseries, and they grow well as a houseplant. There, the trick is trying to find the RIGHT ONE for juice production (the commonest one isn't the best for that). I'd love to tell you what type that is, but even I haven't quite worked that one out yet.

I LOVE greengage plums (which might as well be an exotic fruit here in the U.S.) but, again, finding those is pretty close to impossible. Ditto mirabelle plums.

Beyond that, it's either a case by case basis, or really not worth it in my opinion. To me, longans (the third member of the Lichi/Rambutan trio) taste sort of moldy and mushroom-like (not in a good way*). Cherimoya/Atemoya/Sugar Apple/Bullock Heart are all sort of hit and miss. Soursop (Guanabana) is even more so, finding one that DOESN'T need the sugar coating is so rare that I still have the seeds from the last one I found, and that was WAY over a decade ago.
Don't like most kinds of passionfruit (okay with the oval kind, but almost never see that one). Don't like mango, papaya, or guava (regular OR strawberry (a.k.a. feijoa). Don't like ANY of the sapotes white or black, Don't like persimmons. Don't like sapodilla because the damn things have to be nearly rotten before you can even chew on them, and are sickeningly sweet then. Don't think Carambola (starfruit) is worth it, nor is lian wu/jambu/rose apple. Wong pei/Wampee tastes like an over sour, over resinous lemon crossed with a cough drop. Mamey apple tastes like an overly marshmallow covered sweet potato. Nance taste like you added sugar to Parmesan cheese. Tamarillo's (tree tomatoes) don't taste great to me. Pepino's taste like melon, and I don't like melon. Lulo/Naranjilla tastes super sour. Never worked out HOW to eat a cacao pod (the white stuff isn't worth the effort to scrape it off the seeds, and turning the seeds into chocolate is too complicated.)
Very interesting @Pulsegleaner. You've tried so many exotic fruits! Your post actually reminded me of things I've tried and forgot about, like starfruit. Those used to be very ubiquitous, now I never see them. I did like them somewhat, but each fruit was a hit or miss and there seemed a wide variation in taste between each, many leaning toward a bit too sour. And calamondin, yes, I bought a little clamshell of those once and indeed very tasty and fragrant even though I peeled them by accident, not knowing how to eat them. That is one I'd buy again, should I find it somewhere.

Mirabelle plums are available here at one time of year only, I should make an effort to do more with them specifically. I never think to when they're in season. Aside from the cobblers I should look around for more plum baking recipes. Such an underappreciated cooked fruit.

Well, I'm quite glad you mention about pepino and tamarillo - both I've been tempted to buy seeds for. In fact I grew some pepino plants once years ago and they were killed by an early summer cold night and I never tried again. I too dislike melons, (with well grown watermelons a general exception); now that I know they are melon-y I won't waste money on seeds.

Persimmons, the few times I tried those they gave my tongue a truly awful sensation. I don't know what that was. Maybe they were unripe. They look so velvety and smooth and yet on the palate they have been anything but? They are not a commonly eaten fruit here. I think you & I are in somewhat of a similar position in regards to exotic fruits then, citrus being one of the better tasting families. Years ago I made a Key Lime pie from a cookbook, it was a ghastly recipe using condensed milk, I don't know what I was thinking really. I wondered as I made it if the ingredients combined would magically transform together into a new creation. Nope. Ghastly level of sweetness, horrible texture. I thought after that key limes were a bust, but maybe if I used them in a better recipe that wonderful taste might be realized.
 
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Pulsegleaner

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Very interesting @Pulsegleaner. You've tried so many exotic fruits! Your post actually reminded me of things I've tried and forgot about, like starfruit. Those used to be very ubiquitous, now I never see them. I did like them somewhat, but each fruit was a hit or miss and there seemed a wide variation in taste between each, many leaning toward a bit too sour. And calamondin, yes, I bought a little clamshell of those once and indeed very tasty and fragrant even though I peeled them by accident, not knowing how to eat them. That is one I'd buy again, should I find it somewhere.

Mirabelle plums are available here at one time of year only, I should make an effort to do more with them specifically. I never think to when they're in season. Aside from the cobblers I should look around for more plum baking recipes. Such an underappreciated cooked fruit.

Well, I'm quite glad you mention about pepino and tamarallo - both I've been tempted to buy seeds for. In fact I grew some pepino plants once years ago and they were killed by an early summer cold night and I never tried again. I too dislike melons, (with well grown watermelons a general exception); now that I know they are melon-y I won't waste money on seeds.
I've heard the OTHER kind of Pepino is a bit better (longer, thinner, purpler) but I've only seen that once.

Ditto on the melon, like watermelon hate all other melons (well hate all other sweet melons, Winter melon is fine with me, as a soup ingredient.

Persimmons, the few times I tried those they gave my tongue a truly awful sensation. I don't know what that was. Maybe they were unripe. They look so velvety and smooth and yet on the palate they have been anything but? They are not a commonly eaten fruit here.
With the persimmons definitely. Until they have bletted (basically gone overripe, usually after a frost on the tree, they have something in them that is basically alum. Most of the Japanese and Chinese ones have had that bred out of them, as has the Israeli Fruit of Sharon, but the native American species still has it. From now on, the only persimmon species I will even CONSIDER planting are the ones you can get ebony out of.

I think you & I are in somewhat of a similar position in regards to exotic fruits then, citrus being one of the better tasting families. Years ago I made a Key Lime pie from a cookbook, it was a ghastly recipe using condensed milk, I don't know what I was thinking really. I wondered as I made it if the ingredients combined would magically transform together into a new creation. Nope. Ghastly level of sweetness, horrible texture. I thought after that key limes were a bust, but maybe if I used them in a better recipe that wonderful taste might be realized.
I don't like key lime pie, I like key limes, as a lemon analog and something to add to my iced tea.
 

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