Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Permanent Wilting Point

  1. Permanent wilting point (PWP) or wilting point (WP) is defined as the minimal point of soil moisture the plant requires not to wilt. If moisture decreases to this or any lower point a plant wilts and can no longer recover its turgidity when placed in a saturated atmosphere for 12 hours.
  2. Yep. That about sums it up. Compare the above to the same shot a few years back:

We had a bit of a drought, you see. Couldn't you just cry? I did get to do a few fun things I'd like to share.

Here's what I did with a good portion of that enormous pile of shallots that I pulled up last June:


  I sliced off the bottoms, put them on an olive oil covered pan, and roasted them in a hot oven just like you do with garlic. It took a couple of hours for them to get nice and brown. Then I squooshed the roasted pulp out of the jackets and into the food processor. I added more olive oil and pureed them to a kind of runny consistency. I spread the paste back into the pans and froze them, scoring the surface a few times while they were freezing so they would break apart easy when they hardened. Now I have several big bags of roasted shallot cubes in the freezer ready for browning meats and vegetables and adding to just about anything -dips, dressings, gravy. The thing I like most about this is skipping the whole shallot peeling thing. They're such a pain.


I also grew 2 different Cucurbita pepo: 'Cocozelle' squash (above) and 'Williams Naked Seeded' pumpkin. Did you know that pumpkins and zucchini are so closely related that they will cross with each other by way of bees? I found the best idea for getting true to type home saved seed of each plant when grown at the same time in a small garden in the excellent book Seed to Seed by Suzanne Ashworth. Here's what you do:


In the evening find a female flower (above) and a male flower that are ready to open the next morning. You will know the female flower by the tiny fruit at the base. The flowers will show some color and be slightly puffy.


Take some painter's tape and tape them shut at the tips.


Early the next morning they will look like this. Bees will be buzzing around everywhere, but they won't be able to get in.

 Open each flower up. You can tear the petals off the male flower, but leave as much petal as you can on the female one. Brush the pollen from the male flower onto the center of the female flower.


Then gather her skirts together and tape the little mamma up tight.

In a few months your seed mammas will be ripe and full of the right seeds.


Naked seeded pumpkins have no hulls. I dehydrated mine with a bit of salt. So good! I'm definitely growing these again with the good seed I saved. I have some to share (and the Cocozelle too). Let me know if you'd like some.






14 comments :

  1. Shallot cubes, what a good idea! I will try this if I ever have enough shallots. The Mariposa Lily photo caught my eye. Are they growing wild there? I plant bulbs almost every year. They are so unique and beautiful. Also, the charming drawing of bee and clover.

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    1. Hello Margaret!
      Glad you like the idea. Mariposa lilies do grow wild in Mariposa! They bloom in June. I can't take credit for the drawing but the poem that goes with it is very dear to my heart.

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  2. Hi Kate. Thanks for the tutorial on identifying male and female squash flowers and showing us how to pollinate/cross pollinate them. I'm bookmarking this page. I love your recipe for roasted shallot squares . Maybe that's what I should do with some of my empty garden space, plant shallots. I'm hoping you get rain down there in California.

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    1. Hi Melanie!
      Ms. Ashworth's book is the very best on the subject. Shallots are so great! Mostly because they grow here in a season when the garden would be empty. Plus they're so expensive to buy. You should try the pumpkins too! A good portion of them were ready to pick in August and September.

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  3. Oh so sorry about the evil drought Kate. I know California is hit hard -- I shouldn't whine so much about Oregon I think.

    I love your managing the sex lives of those squash plants, and to such great effect! I am impressed with your squash production in general. I have better luck with the ones that volunteer in a flower bed than I do when I actively plant them. One thing I CAN grow is shallots and your processing of them was nothing short of brilliant. You have changed my life, regarding shallots...

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    1. Hi Linnie!
      You have every right to whine. I know I haven't stopped since July. It's so discouraging. You know, maybe there's a bright side here. As we become a desert, you may become a sunbelt. (Then you could grow squash!) I did feel a little bad about taking charge of the reproduction of my two female cucurbits. I usually frown on this sort of anti feminist nonsense. Did you know that you can use the same processing method with garlic? It sets up a little stiffer so you can just do separate spoonfuls if you want. I'm very proud and humbled to be considered a shallot revolutionary.

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  4. What a fantastic idea, that tric with the onions and sjalots! I'm gonna try it too. Comes in handy when there's so much to do and so little time to do it in (again...)

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    1. Hi Chris!
      I know you work a hard schedule too. A few hours work when you can get to it can save many later. Thank you!

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  5. The shallot thing is pure genius! I usually end up fussing over the biggest and best, and just putting the rest in the ground out in the woods because they're not worth the effort.

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    1. Hi Zack!
      That's funny! All the small shallots are still sitting in a basket on the kitchen counter. I keep thinking I'll use them in something, but every time it comes down to a choice, I just grab an onion instead. What I really need for them is a giant sized garlic press. That would do it. ... or go plant them in the woods.

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  6. Now I'm wishing I too had a freezer.

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    1. Hi Esther!
      ... Maybe you could get one of those little ones.

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  7. Those shallot better-than-boullion-esque cubes are brilliant. What a great idea!

    I understand your pain over the drought. It hurts to see established trees, trees that have endured so much, die from this drought.

    And as for Suzanne Ashworth--she's a personal hero of mine. She's so no-nonsense and her directions are clear and immediately applicable. She ordered seeds through Seed Savers Exchange from me once. I felt like a fangirl, sending my seed-hero seeds I had saved.

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    1. Hi Christina!
      I saw a disturbing statistic in the paper a while back. It said 40% of the trees once growing in our county are dead. If you look out on the hillsides there are large patches of brown everywhere. Rain is coming tonight, though, and it looks to be a good one. Heck, you're probably getting walloped by the storm right now. You have a seed-hero!! And you got to send her your seeds!! Now that is cool.

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