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Mare's Island Garden

 
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Location: Adriatic island - Mediterranean
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I want to have one place here where I can write about random stuff from my garden, share some photos with you and so on... I'll start with some photos that I need for some other posts but will eventually add more text and more photos.

I live on a small island in Adriatic sea, NE Mediterranean area. We have mild winters with occasional cold spells, hot summers, drought at least during two summer months, but more and more drought starts earlier and ends later. Last year we had 8 months of drought. We are a fairly windy area, being small, just 15 sqare km and sorounded by the sea - largest impact is from the so called 'bura' wind. It's NE wind, very strong and dry, it's not unusual for it to go above 100 km/h during winter, and it always brings a layer of see salt with it. During winter it is a really cold wind, during summer it is a hot one of the 'fen' type of wind. I have shallow and poor soils so I have to do a lot of soil building for veggies and most fruits.

Here's what my garden looked like this May:
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Mare Silba
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Some fava beans photos that I harvested for seed this year. Light green beans are some local/regional variety or at least some variety that has adapted to local/regional conditions, I bought the seeds at farmers market (being sold for food there), purple ones are 'Extra precoce a grano violetto' and smaller beans is horsebean variety of fava.
I do grow them very near each other and my plan is to develop my own landrace, or maybe even split it to two types - one of broad bean and other of horse bean type. We'll see what will happen in the next years.

In the last photo there are some green beans on a separate small plastic tray - these were grown outside of the garden space, next to a pommegranate tree in suboptimal conditions - very shallow and dry soil and too much shade. So I keep them separately but will allow them to cross with others in subsequent years.
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Looks lush and green to me! Do you grow sea kale and sea buckthorn? I love land race techniques, i can imagine you could be a great salty landrace ambassador if you keep at it. I dream big!
What do people grow at the Dead Sea?
Anyway great you started your own topic!
 
Mare Silba
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Thanks Hugo!. Yes, it was a small jungle in April and May, that photo was taken at the beginning of May. Month and a half later and it's completely different ppicture we are well into the summer here, with temps 26-31℃ during last week. I'll have to take some photos of the whole garden and post them here. I already did lots of seed saving this year so I'll post some photos of it.

Usually I'm growing one type of kale with wide leaves that is grown traditionally in the region for generations. This year I also have Nero di Toscana and some mix that was named "Wild Garden Kale Mix". With kale I will do two separate groups for breeding/seed saving. I definitely want to keep the regional variety separate from others, but also want to have a kale landrace. I will do seed saving for those two groups in alternate years.

I'm not growing seabuckthorn yet, it's on my to do list. I'm not sure when, but in the next few years for sure.

My general plan is to seed save everything I possibly can - veggies, herbs (which I use extensively both for my family and for making products in my small business), fruits and nuts, but also wild plants that are native to the island.
I want to develop "island landraces" that are particularly suitable for islands in the Adriatic. I found that a lot of stuff I want to grow just isn't suitable for my growing conditions. I strongly believe that we lost a lot of locally suitable varieties. But landrace gardening gives me hope - more so Joseph Lofthouse's results and experience of other permies here.

I'm dreaming big too :-) :-)
 
Hugo Morvan
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Ha great Mare! I hope you win the book.
He speaks of those seed mixes. And i totally understand you want to keep local races seperate to respect them.  But as well you can mix the pollen in, in the years you save the landrace seeds. That will speed things up if i understand correctly.
But then in the years you go for saving the localized race you can’t have the other pollen pollute it.
It’s so interesting this landrace business. I’m obsessed. Will stop polluting your blog now with my obsession haha. And look forward to new pictures and comments.
 
Mare Silba
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So here is a bunch of photos I took yesterday - all of it stuff that I left to go to seed.

Major purpose is to save my own seed, but that has other benefits too. There is so much more food and habitat for many different bugs in my garden, I'm enjoying the diversity so much.

So what is on all of those pictures:

1&2 - wild celery  
3 - coriander
4 - bit of spinach
5 - parsley
6 - leafy salads
7 - some endivia / radicchio
8 - domestic celery
9&10 - more different endivias / radicchio
And it happens that chard is only visible on the last photo in the lower right corner.


Since I'm on my phone currently I'll have to edit this later to put the names in the same order as photos, sorry about that.

EDIT: edited to reshuffle names of plants in the same orders as photos and to add number of photo to the name.  
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Mare Silba
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Hugo Morvan wrote:Ha great Mare! I hope you win the book.
He speaks of those seed mixes. And i totally understand you want to keep local races seperate to respect them.  But as well you can mix the pollen in, in the years you save the landrace seeds. That will speed things up if i understand correctly.
But then in the years you go for saving the localized race you can’t have the other pollen pollute it.
It’s so interesting this landrace business. I’m obsessed. Will stop polluting your blog now with my obsession haha. And look forward to new pictures and comments.



Hahaha just pollute with your obsession, I was always into saving my own seed and seeding & planting everything mixed. Landraces became my own obsession too, I guess I was already doing it in a way, I'm just going to do it more purposely.

Re kale seed saving - yes, when it comes to local variety I'll keep it 'clean' from other pollen, but for kale landrace I'll just mix everything.

It would be awesome to get Joseph's book, but I figure I'll end up buying it anyway haha.
 
Mare Silba
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This winter and early spring I had a great harvest of different corn salad (Lamb's lettuce, Varianella sp.) varieties and managed to harvest a lot of seeds too! I had four different varieties growing, left some plants to bolt and have a lovely stash of seeds.

First two photos are mix of two commercial varieties - Etampes and Elan. I had them next to each other and actually don't know which one is what because they are so similar - both have rounded and compact leaves. But I don't care - I'm leaving everything to pollinate at will anyway and want to end up with one or two groups that do well in my garden.

Third photo is some regional stuff that was handed down through generations - it has more elongated leaves that are not so compacted. I remember that as the type of corn salad I was eating as a kid, from my aunt's garden in the continental part of the country.

Fourth photo is of seeds saved from those three - in one jar is seed collected from Elan/Etampes plants, in the other seed collected from regional type.

Fifth photo - some old variety grown in Croatia - elongated leaves that get yellowish as the plant grows. That one has different looking seeds so it's probably some other Valerianella species, other three are Valerianella locusta.

Sixth photo - seeds from that old yellowish one, still waiting form me to clean them and put them in the jar and the fridge for longer keeping.

Long term - I'll keep a mix of everything and see where it goes from there. All the varieties were very tasty and had vigorous growth.

Note - photos of the plants were taken in the various times and stages of harvesting them for eating.
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Hugo Morvan
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Great! We have the same plant variations going on. The grandma’s kind has thin leaves. I prefer the fat leaved varieties.
Any miner’s lettuce yet?
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claytonia_perfoliata
Check out the subspecies section, coastal ones might work
 
Hugo Morvan
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Hi Mare. I came across this topic and thought it might be interesting for your situation.
https://permies.com/t/166061/Pascal-Poot-tomatoes-grow-water
 
Mare Silba
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Hugo Morvan wrote:Hi Mare. I came across this topic and thought it might be interesting for your situation.
https://permies.com/t/166061/Pascal-Poot-tomatoes-grow-water



Hi Hugo, thank you for Pascal Poot link, I think I might end up ordering some seeds from them, I found few interesting varieties there.

Although I do my own seed saving as much as possible, there are number of vegetables where I have to find a good seed source first to be able to go from there. Unfortunately there are just few good sources of bio/eco/organic seeds that want to grow in my conditions. Those from Croatian inland (continental climate) are rarely appropriate, aside from some species and varieties, they just don't have that much heat, sun and drought during summer so seeds have much lower germination rate, if at all, and plants that managed to grow are suffering and not able to deal with the harsh summer condition on the island. Not to mention I have really shallow soils. I do gather seeds from almost everything that wants to grow to mature stage, but that is a logn term process that is made much easier if start with something that is already adapted to the mediterranean summers.  
I had good experinece from the seed that is grown in the Toscana region of Italy - of course that is less brittle microclimate than my own and some varieties just have a hard time at my place, but still it is the best starting position, aside from seed swapping with islanders and coastal people here in Croatia. I think that area where Pascal is growing their seeds is similar to Toscana.
 
Mare Silba
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So this summer was another dry one - from the middle of May to the end of August we had some 25-30 mm of rain, one day of 20mm and the rest was scatterd, of course dry bura wind makes that rain even less available to plants; and hot one - some two and half months of 30+°C, middle of June to the And of August.

I'm not going to the details of what vegetables I managed to grow, just noting that I had to irrigate a lot to be able to have a small amount growing. One of the problems was that we had colder spring - April and first half of May, and then went imediately into drought and also very fast to the hot weather. A lot of veggies had a good but late start and just weren't mature enough to manage all that heat and drought. Pollination and fruit/pod setting was also very problematic - just when those plants finally got to that stage it was way too hot - very few pollinators going on and also low pollen quality. I will have to play around the transplants/direct seeding tactics and consecutive seeding/transplanting to see what would be most resilient combination for each vegetable.

Most of it what did somehow grow went to seed collection - it either bolted way too fast, or had just one or two fruits or pods, a lot of it didn't make it to the fruit/seed stage. What managed to survive this year to produce seeds is a good starting point for either my landrace development or I can also stay within the variety just have better adapted plants in the future.
I joked a lot that this year I was growing seeds not veggies.

Here are few photos of what it looked like at the end of June and the end of August. A big difference from the photo in the first post :-p
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garden - 23rd June
garden - 23rd June
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garden - 25th June
garden - 25th June
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garden - 31st August 1
garden - 31st August 1
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garden - 31st August 2
garden - 31st August 2
 
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I have some Seabuckthorn growing. It tolerates pruning and is a nitrogen fixer, so it could be helpful as a salt-tolerant wind-break that might help you build soil. The improved fruiting varieties are supposed to be very nutritious, but I only just got a pair of females this year to give my male company - yes it's one of those plants who only produce flowers of a single sex, so if you want fruit, you need to make sure you've got both.
 
Mare Silba
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And on the subject of seed saving and beginnings of my own landraces I had some interesting surprise with garbanzo beans / Cicer arietinum this year.
This year I had two varieties, both are small bean varieties - one is yellow, bought at the nearby farmers market and is probably something that is adapted to the eastern Adriatic coast; other one is a black one called Nero, specific variety from the south of Italy. I've grown them next to each other and for most of the plants there were no suprises - yellow one grew yellow seeds, black one grew black ones.

BUT there was that one plant with just two pods with mature seeds, one in each, that got properly mixed and ended up being yellow with a lot of black. Those two seeds are treated like royalty :-))). See photos below. I'm so excited what will the next generation be like. And not just from those two, who knows what other F1 seeds managed to 'pick up', we will see if there are more hidden suprises there.

And I have to say - garbanzo from my garden is the only one I can eat just with some salt, pepper and olive oil, it tastes sooo good. Everything else I tried has to be made in a hummus like paste with a lot of herbs or other strong flavored veggies/ingredients. So despite it having just one or two seeds per pod and with it time consuming harvest, this is a definite must for my garden. The difference in taste is more than worth it.  

For the next year I'll plant all three F1 variations, but also some more original seeds if manage to find enough place - that is for February seeding. I'll do a bit of experimenting and put some of them in the ground this month (November), at the same time as fava beans in this area. We'll see what happens, with more and more erratic weather patterns I decided that for a lot of annuals I'll just play around with more wider seeding and transplanting time-frame than it is usual.

NOTE - in the first photo in the upper row are seeds that I bought, next to some large bean variety for comparison, in the lower row are my first generation seeds.  
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garbanzo - original and F1 seed
garbanzo - original and F1 seed
Cicer-arietinum_20210627_185020.jpg
garbanzo 2021 seed
garbanzo 2021 seed
 
Mare Silba
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Jay Angler wrote:I have some Seabuckthorn growing. It tolerates pruning and is a nitrogen fixer, so it could be helpful as a salt-tolerant wind-break that might help you build soil. The improved fruiting varieties are supposed to be very nutritious, but I only just got a pair of females this year to give my male company - yes it's one of those plants who only produce flowers of a single sex, so if you want fruit, you need to make sure you've got both.



It is on my list to plant and I already know where I'll plant the first few ones :-) but I'm not sure if I'll manage to do it this winter or the next one. Still, thanks for mentioning it, I hope both of us will have some lovely fruit in the next years.

Re wind - I already have a lot of trees and shrubs all over the property to serve as a wind break and I do need to add some more, sea buckthorn will go into one of those areas.
But even with the wind break, that bura wind is so strong and dry that it will always have an effect. It's normal to have several winter episodes with average wind speed in the 60-100 km/h range with gusts up to 150-200 km/h. Summer bura has somewhat less speed but is often hot, and off course dry, fen type wind. Beside drying out plants while its blowing, it also lowers the air humidity a lot, so the effect on the evaporation and transpiration of plants is longer lasting and significant at the landscape scale - in our case that would be a whole island.
It is a peculiar type of wind and we often say that if you haven't experienced it you can't imagine what's it like. I know a number of people that are experienced with strong winds conditions but still managed to completely underestimate bura -  driving a car or a truck or a boat - and got themselves in real trouble; the same goes for house building in the areas where the wind is strong, and of course microlocation is everything.

To conclude - even with wind-breaks in place you have to take it into account, especially the drying effect it has on the large scale landscape. Aaaand I could talk about it for a long time so I'm just going to stop now ;-)

 
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I tried fall planting some garbanzo beans (often called "chickpeas" in my area) - of about 20 seeds, I think I've got 2 that have survived so far... sigh... As you mentioned, with weather weirding, we can't count on past patterns. Supposedly, my region is a "Mediterranean Climate" but I'm on the east side of a large Island off the west coast of Canada where there are some big ocean currents that can shift things year to year. Hopefully the ones you try planting will be more successful!
 
Mare Silba
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Usually I call them chickpeas too but my mind was stuck on garbanzo at that moment for some reason so I went with it. It was weird writing it though :-)

Yes, I hope that I will have more success with late autumn seeding, I think my biggest constraint will be winter episodes with days around 0°C in combination with above mentioned strong bura wind. But yours still might give you a handfull of seeds, if not this year then perhaps next one - Joseph Lofthouse's melons comes to mind in situation like yours :-).

Anyway, here's some information on growing that I got from one of Croatian web sites:
- min germination temps 5 – 6 °C, time of germination around 3 weeks
- germination temps (of soil) 8 – 10 °C, time of germination 10 – 15 days; at 25°C it germinates in 5 days
- in the first phase of vegetative growth it is resistant to low temps and can withstand -6 do -8 °C
- optimum temps in later vegetative phase is 20 – 24 °C, for flowering around 25 °C.
- resistant to drought BUT highest water demands are for bud formation and flowering
- grows in almost any type of soil, except very heavy and very acid soils
- it can withstand lightly salted soils
In general it is considered a cool season crop.

I think that in my region (east coast of the Adriatic sea) some people are growing it as an early spring culture, and others are growing it as an overwintering culture, it all depends on the microlocation.

My main problems with spring growing are: spring/late spring drought that is happening more often lately; and earlier higher temps - in June it's becoming a regular thing, May can be a tricky one (cold or hot or both). Basically we lost half of the spring timewise and jumping straight into the summer much earlier. How that relates to chickpeas - too dry and too hot for flowering and bean formation and growing. This year I seeded it in the first half of March and it was too late - they started very well, but with dry May and dry and hot June plants started to suffer and had lower amount of pods and a lot of pods were empty.

For this growing season my plan is to have smaller amount seeded in late November and for main crop to go to the ground in mid February, with first warmer days, as much early I can manage.

For my place I think the best long term strategy will be to have two seasonal seeds/landraces.
 
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Mare Silba wrote:

- optimum temps in later vegetative phase is 20 – 24 °C, for flowering around 25 °C.

I will guess I will get nothing! In our 2 hottest months, we're lucky to get 22.4 C as the Max daily temp. I saw the "cool weather crop" and thought I had a chance. If they look happy in the spring, I may break down and put some row cover over them to boost the temp a little as much as I try to stay away from it.

I guess it will be back to growing Scarlet Runner beans for my bean dip. It's hard to get those large beans to dry in my climate, but the plants will be happy so long as I can keep the deer and bunnies at bay! I really like humus, but if they want 25C for flowering, that will likely take a lot of work with landracing them.
 
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