There has been a lively discussion on Michael McCoy’s Gardenist site about the relative merits of heirloom and F1 hybrid seed. So many issues were raised in the discussion that it’s impossible to deal with all of them in a short Garden Note. I’ll look at one issue that comes up time and time again, flavour and tomatoes.
I’ve taken advantage of a lull in the cold wet weather that we’ve been having in Victoria to get some seed sowing done. I’ve sown onion and pea seed this week as well as getting my garlic in. I usually plant garlic around the shortest day but this year it was too wet to plant until this week.
With all eyes on Chelsea for both Chelsea in Bloom and the Chelsea Flower Show this spring, the Cadogan Estate’s gardeners have to work extra hard to impress. Ric Glenn, head gardener at Cadogan, tells us about his passion for horticulture, Chelsea’s tropical surprises and some common ground with last year’s winner at the Chelsea Flower Show.
I’ve grown two varieties of Zucchini this year, an F1 Black Jack type called Nitro and a beautiful white striped pale green variety called ‘Bush Baby’. Both have high resistance to powdery mildew which more often than not cuts short the cropping season of older varieties of Zucchini at this time of year.
One stinking hot day in February I went to see Keith White’s sunflower breeding field. In a leased paddock on a farm only a few kilometres from Lambley the world’s best sunflower hybridiser plies his trade. Keith, a qualified geneticist, has spent much of his working life breeding new strains of agricultural crops such as canola.
It pays to read the description carefully when ordering and planting seeds. I wanted to plant a lot of Cosmos ‘Sensation’ white in a new flower border in the vegetable garden. ‘Sensation’ strain grows a metre or more tall with handsome fresh green fern-like leaves topped with 30cm long wands carrying large flowers well clear of the foliage.
It was the Californian Humming Bird Trumpets that stood up best to the last heat wave, five days in a row of 40C. Their flowers were barely touched by the searing sun and desiccating wind. I’ve written about them before I know but their virtues bear repeating. They aren’t grown nearly enough in dry Australian gardens.