Saturday, September 24, 2011
This Year's Spring Giveaway from Jung's: Sunflower Seeds and Cape Gooseberry
This year Jung's was giving away seed packets with qualifying purchases. I managed to get both packets they offered, a sunflower and cape gooseberry.
I duly planted the sunflowers in the family garden. They were a big hit with my twin nephews who liked to watch the bees working the flowers, to count the bees in their own informal bee census, and pick the flowers for Momma. One nephew has even been concerned about where the bees have gone now that their bee work is done and the sunflower heads droop heavily laden with seeds.
The other packet was cape gooseberries. These cousins of tomatoes I started in flats, pricked them out, and at what we believed to be an appropriate time planted them out to our hopefully frost-free garden at the end of May.
Frost-free wasn't yet on Mother Nature's calendar and a pretty hard frost killed these tender young things. I had held back two plants for the potager here in the village, and at that point decided I'd plant them out in the family plot instead.
Within a couple days of the killing frost, temperatures soared into the upper 90s not dropping below 70 at night. This went on for a week; extreme weather, even for us here in central Wisconsin.
At the end of the week, my sister-in-law calls to tell me she thinks the cape gooseberries haven't died and are resprouting from the roots. I was hopeful, but thought she probably had it wrong. This is her first foray into vegetable and fruit gardening. She is a fair gardener and her husband, my brother, is a farmer. Even so, my mother had long given up on vegetable gardening by the time my brother, child number six, was born. They are pretty "green" veggie gardeners in more ways than the popular one.
Well, she had it right. The cape gooseberries seemed to spread out and eat up the ground. Neither of us thinks this is the typical growth habit of the cape gooseberries. The gooseberries, affectionately named "mato berries" by the twins, are growing laterally having lost their vertical growth tip to the frost. Even one of the others I held back and which never actually made it into the ground, attaching itself into the ground through the holes in its pot epitomizing the saying "grow where you are planted", or not... phrase, tends to be more horizontal rather than vertical.
I have to say Jung's got it right. Any parent that handed the free seed packets to their kid and suggested they plant them probably had a successful child gardener in their midst this year.
The twin sit right down on the ground and scramble about looking for ripe husks chanting "mato berries, mato beries" like noisy baby birds in a nest. The 1/2" berries are incredibly sweet. The boys know what they like.
They have learned which are ripe and which are not. They greedily pick the or scoop up ripe ones laying on the ground and remove the husks in what has become a daily ritual with the twins.
They have eaten almost the entire harvest of the five plants that survived in the family garden-- much to their mother's and my hopes of having enough at some point to make a jam or marmalade.
A surprise hit for all of us this year, but something we will definitely be looking forward to next gardening season. As these are non-hybrid, heirloom seeds, I am attempting to save seed from these more frost-tolerant tomato cousins. We want at least twice as many plants as last year, where I started out with just 12 seedlings.
Every season can bring surprises in the garden, both good and bad. This was certainly a good one, and one which we hope to repeat in the future.