Two Australian Heirloom Vegetables

by Patrick Muir on December 12, 2012

I was born in Australia and moved to the States in 1978 at the age of 13. I do remember my grandparents had a veggie market garden when there was a a prolonged drought and the wheat crop and lack of pasture for the sheep used for wool weren’t  bringing enough income. It was less than an acre according to my Mum. Even though I was a child, I remember picking small vegetables.

The garden was situated on 50 acres between the Namoi River and a billabong. The billabong is a creek fed by the river that returns to the river at some point. Pop created a rough stone road at a low point where he could get to the 50 acres. Sometimes a heavy rain made the road impossible to drive over the billabong. But the river irrigated the whole garden and so most years they had an impressive harvest.

Yates was the only major seed company that sold open-pollinated seeds that  were mostly Aussie varieties but they did import some varieties from other parts of the world. But I do remember two classic Aussie varieties I’d like to share with you.

‘Queensland Blue’ Heirloom Pumpkin.

Since there is no Halloween in Australia,there were no orange pumpkins just blue when I was a kid. The most famous was the ‘Queensland Blue’ named after one of Australia’s five states at that time and is available at Baker’s Creek Seeds, the behemoth heirloom seed company. Be sure to request the most beautiful and largest seed catalog in this county.

The deep orange flesh and the dark blue makes a stunning combo. (Check out the today’s color wheel to see such a display.) This is still one of the varieties that is still a popular choice after all these years yielding 10-20 pound beauties..When Aussies made a roast during my days it was always the ‘Queensland Blue’ which looked fantastic with just potatoes on the plate.

 

 

But my favorite Aussie heirloom is the ‘Crystal Apple’ cucumber which is still a big favorite yet today. I searched here in the US  for many years and even tried the very bitter lemon cucumber in  case they were the same thing. YUCK .I finally saw it added at Baker’s Creek two years ago. It’s  also available at Seed Saver’s Exchange. I have several 2′ X 5′ planter boxes and having a friend building an eight foot  trellis for the middle of some of them.where I plan to grow some of  these cucumbers.Should make some pretty image for the blog.

 

 

Im my days it was the best selling favorite being grown and aI high yielder. Baker’s Seds recommends harvesting them at a smaller size of three inches high and wide than we did back home which should make them better suited for a trellis.

Part of its allure is it has a very think thin skin unlike the traditional long green choices. So the only prep is to score them with a fork around it and then enjoy the mld taste. I’ll give you updates butI i think you should consider for the ground or trellis this next year.

Patrick's Garden

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Shirley December 13, 2012 at 2:47 pm

That’s an amazing looking pumpkin, the flesh looks good too.

The cucumber looks perfect for a sandwich.

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Patrick December 13, 2012 at 5:25 pm

Thanks for stopping by. You’re absolutely right about the sandwich. They’re very popular and the right size for one and better than lettuce for a burger. Beets are favorite for the burgers as well.

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Donna December 13, 2012 at 5:46 pm

That is one gorgeous pumpkin. I never saw a blue pumpkin. The cucumber looks tasty, I imagine it really is good unpeeled.

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Patrick December 13, 2012 at 9:06 pm

Yes about the look of the Queensland Blue. Wish you could see it in person.

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Layanee December 14, 2012 at 1:49 pm

I have grown the Jarradale but not that big blue. Very beautiful. Good to know about the ‘Crystal Apple’ cucumber. I tried the lemon ones and just did not like them. I will give the CA’s a go next season.

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Patrick December 14, 2012 at 2:16 pm

Always glad to see a post of mine that helps someone plan their garden. Please update through the season. I’m subscribing to see how it works for you.

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Katie December 15, 2012 at 2:55 pm

Hi Patrick!
It was fun to hear a little about your childhood in Australia. My Aunt had a dairy when I was a child. She had a big garden behind the milking barn where we all learned about growing vegetables. The barn was washed down several times a day and the runoff water stored in a big pond to irrigate the garden through the Summer. I bet you had fun playing in the billabong when you were a child! We played in a little “creek” that was really just a drainage ditch running across the bottom of a horse pasture. Catching polywogs is one of my happiest memories

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Patrick December 15, 2012 at 6:50 pm

Hey Kate,
Cheers to you. Where was your farm. Glad your enjoyed my little tale. Spending all that time in the country has made me Australian as they come. Mu uncle was a share cropper in Warialda so I saw more roos and wildlife people only dream about. Thanks for some of your story. Will subscribe to keep in touch, my dear.

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Kate December 16, 2012 at 8:03 pm

Patrick,
My Aunt’s dairy was in Arroyo Grande, California. Our family stories go on and on. I bet yours do too. You’re right about roots. These seeds are as precious as our own memories, aren’t they?

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Patrick December 16, 2012 at 9:19 pm

I agree these seeds area precious as our memories for me as well. My grandparents shaped my life and who I am today. They are still with me.

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HGTVMallory December 17, 2012 at 8:27 am

Hi Patrick! Those crystal apple cucumbers look almost like green tomatoes. I wonder what they would taste like battered and fried!

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Patrick December 17, 2012 at 4:17 pm

Hey Mallory,
They’re so soft compared to regular to regular cucumbers, I don’t think they would be good be good candidates for frying. But when they are scored and sliced thin there’s nothing better.

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Marcia December 17, 2012 at 2:02 pm

I also gardened with my grandparents when I was a child. It was precious time, and like you, it shaped my life. In which zone is your gardening now? I’d be delighted to try the blue pumpkins next year. They’re beautiful. Thanks for your blog. Your story is inspiring. Please keep writing.

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Patrick December 17, 2012 at 4:32 pm

Hey Marcia,
I’m in zone 6A. Us e to be 5B on old USDA zone map which is part global warming I believe. I think it will Zone 7 before I leave this earth, so may be able to grow my favorite flower which is the camellia but we will see. Love to here you will grow the QB so can’t wait to see it process on your blog. Must subscribe now.

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KL December 17, 2012 at 5:26 pm

Found your blog through blotanical. Very nice blog. The crystal apple cucumber is also available through Seed Savers Exchange.

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Patrick December 17, 2012 at 5:53 pm

Gotta love Blotanical. Will revise post to include Seed Savers Exchange. Off to see you blog.

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paulinemulligan December 19, 2012 at 4:21 am

Wow, that Queensland Blue Heirloom pumpkin is amazing, must be wonderful roasted! Thanks for sharing a bit of your childhood with us, it sounds a very happy time.

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Patrick December 19, 2012 at 2:32 pm

Hey Paula ,
I wish more people could grow and/or taste the Queensland Blue. I already have one blogger who said they wll. Great part of being a garden blogger is to being able to help bloggers grow new varieties like this in their 2013 garden. Have already heard from two who will be growing the apple cucumber apple.

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Jennifer@threedogsinagarden December 19, 2012 at 5:19 am

Hi Patrick, I am the kind of person who likes to stroll the vegetable and food isles in the store looking for new things I have never tried. Here in Toronto we have a grocery store that caters to Asian and Indian immigrants. Most of the fruit and many of the vegetables are unfamiliar. It is fun to pick out something you have never tried before and taste it.
For this reason, I found your post very interesting. I have never seen round cucumbers before and would love to try growing them. I wonder if the growing season here would be long enough? The squash looks delicious too.

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Patrick December 19, 2012 at 2:50 pm

If you can grow traditional green cucumbers in your part of Canada, then you can certainly grow Crystal Apple. Maybe you could contact one of these cucumbers before next season to add them to them to . Worth a try???

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Anne January 6, 2013 at 5:47 pm

Hi Patrick,
I was also born in Australia! I loved reading your blog, I found it by surfing (very Australian, I grew up not 10 minutes from Manly beach) the web looking for Aussie veggie varieties that I could grow in the Northeast. I gave some QB seeds to a friend in PA and she has had great success for the last three years. The first meal I made was baked Aussie lamb with spuds and QB. I closed my eyes took a deep breath and I was a school girl back in my Mum’s kitchen in Sydney!! I know you remember that heavenly aroma!
I had forgotten all about the apple cucumbers, yummy. I just put them on my list from Baker Creek. I also found Australian brown onions and an Australian butter pumpkin in the Barkers Creek Catalog.
The only other Australian vegetable I could find was a tomato called “Aussie Tomato” from Annie’s Heirloom Seeds Catalog.
I’m going to give all of these a try this season.
Do you know of any other Australian vegetable varieties that I can grow in the Northeast?
Your blog took me home, good on ya mate!
Anne

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Patrick May 3, 2013 at 7:22 pm

Thank you Anne for your energizing comment. Let me know of your trial with the Aussie veggies this summer. Go Manly Waringah, Annie.

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MrBrownThumb January 6, 2013 at 9:44 pm

Patrick,

I saw that blue pumpkin for the first time in person this year, and I am totally smitten. I really need to grow this in my garden this year. Thanks for the reminder!

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Patrick April 25, 2013 at 7:06 am

Always happy to spread the good news about two heirlooms that were part of my earlier life.

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