I can’t believe I found some red and gold New Zealand tamarillos. Come to think of it, the first and last time I had them was 15 years ago in NZ. These guys are in the nightshade family - yup, cousins to the tomatoes, potato, peppers eggplants! They actually taste like a cross between a beefy San Marzano and a physalis. I scooped out the flesh into some gazpacho, because the skin tends to be too thick and acrid to eat.

After some research, and it looks like the seed saving approach is very much like what is done with tomato seeds - yer gotta ferment them. There is a gooey coating on these seeds that prevents germination, and the easiest way to remove that goo is to simply rot it off through fermentation. Gross, I know, but it works.

Anyhoot, it’s a little bit late to plant this year, but I try it next spring.

#solanums / nightshades #seed saving

I’ve heard about this fermentation drying method, but it seems counterintutive (and icky, especially while living in a small apartment with a lady friend who has Virgo on the ascendant). I’ve always just spooned out tomato/pepper/physalis/tamarillo seeds, plopped them into a fine-mesh strainer, rinsed and massaged off as much pulp as possible (not really necessary with peppers), then spooned the seeds onto a paper plate or folded paper towel. I’ll let the seeds sit uncovered, out of direct light, for at least two weeks. Then I’ll pull/gently scrape the seeds off of the paper and put them into coin envelopes or clean baby jars. Germination rates are just fine the following season.

One of several Datura stramonium flowers that opened this evening.

My lady friend asked, “What kind of flowers are those?” as we parked the landscaping truck at a client’s house. I looked up, saw the hanging bells and nearly jumped out of the driver’s seat. They were Brugmansia.

And there were three varieties! And three varieties of Datura! And an Iochroma (which I’d only seen in conservatories until yesterday)!

"Who is this person?" I asked out loud while positioning myself under the pendulous flowers. "Who is growing these plants, in all these varieties, in Milwaukee?"

I didn’t quite find out, although I did meet the gardener’s daughter. I had written out a note praising the gardener’s skill and taste in nightshades when I saw a young woman walking down the driveway. I handed her the note and asked about overwintering. she told me about broken pieces of the Brugs that were repotted and then went on to produce different color blooms. She also mentioned being in Peru and seeing types that were 15 feet tall.

Anyway, it was a marvelous discovery. Maybe I’ll find out more about the woman’s methods later.

The sleeper has awakened, lol

This is the first Datura stramonium I’ve grown in a couple of years.

A trio of Datura flowers

Another day, another Datura flower (plus several others that are close to unfurling)

Speaking of nightshades, does anyone know what this is? My supervisor calls it flowering tobacco, but I know that’s not right. It does seem to be part of the Solanaceae family, though.

Last night’s Datura show

Oh, Datura

The top photo is a close-up of a D. inoxia flower before it opened. The next two photos show a specimen of D. stramonium with a close-up of one of its flower buds. Next, there are some D. inoxia flowers in profile. Finally, the whole D. inoxia plant. The flowers are 4-5 inches wide.

A night in the life of a Datura flower