SARAH THE GARDENER

State of the Garden

In order to decide what to grow, (see yesterday’s post) I needed to assess the state of the garden and see what can go where, and what is still lingering.  It is always good to do a state of the garden review and make some to do lists and help ease into the change of direction and focus a new season can bring.   For weeks now I have plodded along just doing the same old same old with little change to my water, weed, harvest routine.   So, this is what I came up with:

Late summer garden

Overall the garden isn’t looking too bad, but there are some bare patches creeping in.

Sector One

  • I chopped the tops off the basil and froze them for later use in pesto so hopefully I’ll get a bit of regrowth to continue to enjoy fresh basil before the temps drop permanently. I also scattered all the coriander seeds that had dried on the plants before ripping them up.  I’m hoping to create a perpetual situation where they just keep growing back from seed all the time.  The perennial herbs are doing fine and don’t need anything.
  • Half of the sunflowers were knocked to the ground in the winds earlier in the week. So, they should probably come out – or be replaced so I can attempt to replicate the joy of sunflowers in June that I had last year.  I should just pull out the carnations and be done with it – they are a mess and have been all year.  I also want to look for some late season flower seedlings now that we are back out of temporarily in lockdown again.  In the meantime, the zinnia I put in way too late are now beginning to come into their own.  And I did get carried away ordering bulbs online… opps.
  • I finally got round to sowing peas. They are in the same bed as the spring but will help to prepare soil for tomatoes next season as well as give an autumn harvest.  Technically I should be able to grow them all winter as we don’t get a frost, but I need to get my timings right, so I don’t hold up the tomatoes.  I guess at some point I will need to switch to the new pea bed where the corn is now. 
Rat eaten corn

There is nothing more motivating to harvesting corn than when you find a couple of rat eaten cobs. They are pretty good at determining the perfect time for harvest!

  • I finished harvesting the straggler corn ears but still need to pull the plants out. The rats found them last night and I didn’t want them to finish them off tonight.  Then I need to sow a high nitrogen cover crop to replace what the hungry corn used, not that the peas will need too much nitrogen, but it is good to replenish the soil back to a good starting point.
  • The squash are doing their thing and will need a cover crop to bulk up the soil for the new season corn, but there is no hurry, the harvest is still a while away.
  • The glass gem corn in the old onion bed is still ages off being ready, so I am really hoping the temperatures bounce back and stay that way for a while, but once the corn is done, I will need to pop in a cover crop to replace the goodness taken from the soil by the corn. But it won’t need replanting until the squash goes in, in the spring so it isn’t high on the priority list.
  • I’m thinking I just need to pull the tomatoes out and burn them. They are far from being healthy, lush, and prolific.  I think this belongs at the feet of the Tomato Potato Psyllid and I will need to devise a cover for next season to keep them safe.  But they are on their last chance – it is too hard to fight this battle and not get a good harvest. 
Salad

This lettuce is ripe for picking and won’t last long!

Sector Two:

  • The zucchini are doing well, they are still relatively young plants thanks to their late December replant and so the harvest is steady, and the powdery mildew is so far kept at bay.
  • The peppers don’t need any help right now and are about to bring the crop to a harvestable point.
  • I need to get some more salad seedlings and pop them in, but I’ve sown seeds while I sowed all the other seeds.
  • Most of the brassica are done. I did just chop the tops off the broccoli hoping for side shoots, but I think at this point it is just better to have them out and I’ve started new seeds.
  • The melons are on daily checks, to make sure I don’t miss the moment. Most of them, except the Sugar Baby Watermelons are small, but I’m hoping this won’t be a compromise on taste.
  • In the Odds and Sods the okra has finally got going and need regular harvesting and the eggplants need checking often. The peanuts have a while to go but the soy and popcorn are done.
  • The leeks are all that remain in the onion overflow bed but have gone to seed so I need to start these all over again. It won’t be long before they are joined by other overflow onions in their new spot where the zucchini currently are. 
Okra

I’m getting a good harvest of these often, I just need to find some great recipes for them!

Sector Three:

  • It is time to cut my losses on the 4th corn variety of the season. It isn’t going to happen.  The bed is empty.  Next season should be the cucumbers, but I think it needs to be beans because the leafy greens next door will still be full when it comes time to plant the garlic.
  • In the leafy greens bed the silverbeet is doing well. Everything else is a bit hit and miss but leafy greens don’t like the heat of summer so now was a good time to sow new spinach, tatsoi, bok choy, wong boks and other leafy things.    Next season the cucumbers will go there so that gives the leafy greens plenty of time to do their thing.
  • Now it isn’t so hot I’ve popped in some more carrot seeds and some more beetroot and fennel. Next season the leafy greens can move in as they move out.
  • The spuds are long gone. They didn’t do well either.  I think it was the same problem as the tomatoes.   I could try a cover crop in here, but carrots don’t like too much organic material and they are up next.  If I go early enough it will be well incorporated before the bed is needed for carrots. 
  • The beans are still doing their beany thing and the dried beans are drying on the plants. The spuds go in there next season so there is no hurry at all. 
  • In the latest reshuffle the garlic go back to where they were last year, hopefully it is a big enough time gap for the ground to recover, but it needs to go after a crop that is long since finished come the planting time in April but not in the same bed they came out of… I think this will work.
  • The asparagus bed is full of lush green fronds and I miss their flavour already. The bed needs nothing doing to it until June.
Zinnia

I love zinnia, I really wish I had got around to planting them sooner.

Sector Four:

At this point this section doesn’t need anything extra at all.  I just need to remember houseplants get taken care of at the same time as this sector.  I lost another couple of house plants recently because I forgot about them.  I wonder if I buy bigger plants and spend more money on them if I will remember to care for them?!

Sowing cool season seeds

I popped my seeds in a clear container to help hold the moisture while the seeds germinate. It is so hard in the lingering heat to keep the seed trays from drying out.

Sector Five.

The pumpkins are in their late stages, the luffa are fine.  Most of the berries have come to an end so this section really doesn’t need much doing to it right now. 

That doesn’t seem so unmanageable. 

Come again soon – the sun is back, and I need to make the most of it while it lasts.

Sarah the Gardener  : o)

 

Socks and Seeds

I put socks on yesterday.  I’m probably just being a bit namby pamby, but my feet got cold.  Not winter cold by any stretch of the imagination.  But that shock cold when the temperatures you have been used to up until recently have you eying up anything that can remotely be used as a fan to wave air around you to enjoy the cooling effect, plummet significantly by about 5°C.  This is definitely noticeable.   In the reverse season when temperatures are climbing, a jump up by 5°C would be embraced as a good thing.  But a jump down – not so much in the tail end of summer.  The weather is all over the place right now!

Garden

It is looking quite gloomy out there in the garden. It doesn’t exactly motivate me into a frenzy of gardening activities in the same way a sunny day would.

But now my head is in the right place for the winter garden, making plans and sowing seed.  Ordinarily in a normal summer when the hot conditions stretch seamlessly and endlessly into autumn, I am in denial about the need to start seed so soon, and invariably run late. 

brassica seedlings

Not from this season – but a good reminder of how fabulous brassica seedlings look in the early stages.

I have had a look at the garden plan and have decided I need to sow:

  • Peas for an autumn crop.
  • Salad crops to continue with the succession sowing.
  • Radish can also go in now and hopefully I’ll be less busy so I can appreciate them before they go woody and hard and become goat food.
  • A fresh round of brassica including kohlrabi, broccoli, cabbage – red and savoy, cauliflower, and kale.
  • Loads of leafy greens such as spinach (a winter variety) wombok, bok choy and tatsoi.
  • Now the weather is cooler I will put in a new row of carrots, some more beetroot and fennel and also pop in some swede. I think I have decided I don’t like turnips as much as I like swede so there isn’t really a lot of point growing them – even if they do mature faster than swede. 
  • It will soon be time to sow broad beans, so I’ll need to watch out for the window to open.
  • To try to repeat last years winter sunflowers I will pop in some more seeds to see what I get. There is no harm in trying.
  • I have a Saskatoon Berry Smokey that has been in the fridge for the chill period for way longer than it should have been so I should really give that a go, but I’m not holding out great hope… I think is starting to believe its new home is in the Artic Circle!
  • I also want to take some more cuttings from about the place because I have grand plans. I took some recently, but I think the weather was just too hot to keep the soil continually moist.
carrots

All going well I can recreate this look in a few weeks.

Now that I have written it down it doesn’t seem like it is as enormous a task as spring sowing, and certainly not as daunting.  I’ll get on to it first thing tomorrow.

Peas

Photo for inspiration. I won’t pea seedlings unless I sow the seeds!

Hopefully, the temperatures will rise again to give us a last hurrah before finally making its slow and steady decent across the autumn and into the chill of winter.

Come again soon – I need to fight the urge to get cozy indoors, summer isn’t over yet!

Sarah the Gardener  : o)

Capturing Summer

We are still in summer, repeat after me ‘we are still in summer’.   It is becoming a little bit hard to believe right now.  After the rain eventually came there has been a perceivable shift in the way things feel.  That dry crispness that you feel underfoot when you walk across the lawn is gone.  Most mornings there is now a bit of a dew which is helping to soften the lawn and slowly bring back the green colour.

Available vegetables

With everyone doing the cooking these days I need them to know what is available to be used in our meals. So I came up with this board with a list of all the vegetables they could use and where to find them to help prevent waste and remind everyone to include as many veggies as they can. If you’re in NZ you can read more about this in the February 21 edition of the Kiwi Gardener Magazine.

The temperatures have dipped.  The air is still alive with the sound of cicadas creating the perception of summer heat, but it is a different heat from the boiling hot of a few weeks ago.  There is a chance the conditions may return to those heady days, but we are definitely slipping into more comfortable balmy conditions.  

The garden is also telling me things are changing and if you dilly dally you may miss the peak moments of harvest.  I have been going through the motions with the garden, with the weeding, watering, and harvesting what I need when I need it.  But there haven’t been that many opportunities for slaving over the hot stove preserving the harvest.  This is mainly because psyllid have all but ruined my tomato harvest.  

Looking around the garden now, there are things that have been on a slow boil and am only just coming ripe, others I have been taking a bit here and a bit there, but before long the plants will bolt and there won’t be anything left.  Making the harvest last throughout the winter until it is ready to harvest again is why my garden is so big.

The garden is in an orderly control so these days instead of having dirt under my nails from toiling in the soil, the tips of my fingers are soggy from the constant plunging in water that comes from preserving the harvest.    Some things are just vac packed and popped in the freezer, others have been dehydrated, some just need storing in the shed as is, and others get pickled.  I’ve even done a spot of baking. 

Daily harvest

Every day there is a harvest, but each day it is a little different.

Kitchen gardening is just as rewarding and garden gardening and as the season inevitably begins to transform into something else there will be many more opportunities to spend time indoors, capturing summer in jars and freezing it to shine on cold grey days.

Come again soon – Seeds need to be sown again.

Sarah the Gardener  : o)

 

NB:  Click on each image for a detailed descriptions of what has been going on in the garden and in the kitchen.

Well, that’s a tad disappointing.

It has been a long hot summer.  The kind of endless summer you remember as a kid, when the sun shines for days on end and it seems like it will last forever.  You go to bed at night with the windows open, and then wish you had some kind of screen to stop the enormous moths coming in and divebombing your head.

dry summer grass

The back lawn is so dry and crying out for a few measly drops of water to restore it to its lush glory.

But for the gardener this weather is bittersweet.  While it is nice to garden in good weather and summer plants thrive in full sun, one eye is firmly on the water tank levels and in the increasingly dry soil.   For a while there, it doesn’t really matter too much if you check the weather forecast or not, it is what it is and it will be fine.  But after a month without significant rain, you end up searching the skies and as many weather apps as you can, looking for the hint of moisture on the horizon.

Water collected from rainfall

That amount of rain is hardly going to quench the thirst of my garden or fill the tanks.

So, this morning I had to go into town, the kids are back at school again and I delight in the return of the routine that I celebrated the end of just a couple of months ago.  I also had a few chores to run and in the short dash between the car and the store I got soaked.  It was a good steady rain, the kind that soaks deep into the ground without overwhelming it and I rejoiced.  Hooray the rains have come.

Only that excitement was completely dashed as I headed for home.  Beyond the muggy grey clouds above me I could see blue on the horizon.  Surely that wasn’t over our house?   My hope and expectation faded as I got closer and closer to home.

Irrigating tomatoes with drippers

And so it was business as usual with the irrigation system. Even throughout the hot dry summer I am blessed with soil that only needs 9 minutes once a week, although from time to a thirsty shallow rooted plant will need a little more.

We did get some rain; the ground was wet.  But nothing like the downpour in town.  It wasn’t even registering on my weather station and Wilbur the Wheelbarrow hadn’t even covered his bottom.  I scrapped back the soil hopefully and the dampness had only penetrated the shallowest of depths.  With the sun forcefully pushing through the clouds I resigned myself to the fact that we had missed out once again, I set up the irrigation system and proceeded to water the thirsty plants.

The boffins are promising a lot of rain tomorrow so maybe we’ll get ours then, but I’m not holding my breath.

Come again soon – I’ve been doing some kitchen garden with the harvest.

Sarah the Gardener  : o)

The Last Day of January

To mark the last day of January I filmed a quick garden tour to show the state of the garden as it stands, as representative of the middle month of summer.   To be honest, I’m quite pleased with it, all things considered.  On a hot, bright sunny day, everything looks wonderful, if not a little heat exhausted.    Sit back and enjoy my garden like you were right beside me, having a personal tour…

Come again soon – there is still a third of summer to go!

Sarah the Gardener  : o)

 

January – A month in review

If I am to learn anything from this month is to lower my expectations.   This is not a normal month where life ticks by with the ebb and flow of a reliable routine.   It is filled with holidays and opportunities to hang out on the beach, or to visit or be visited.  Not many people work normally for a large chunk of this month and I need to acknowledge I am not one of those people.  The plans for the day can be cast aside for the opportunity to bask in the sun and do nothing and meanwhile zucchini remain unharvested. 

Twilight garden

I like being in the garden in the cool of the evening after a long productive day toiling away in the midsummer heat.

But things haven’t been completely neglected and snatched days here and there have resulted in a garden that doesn’t look too bad all things considered.   I put it down to the sector system I use to manage my garden as no one area is raging out of control in my absence and it only takes a short amount of time to set things right.  And in some cases, I can take care of more than one sector in a day with no great inconvenience.   It also helps that I can set up the irrigation to water the garden without me.

Melons

If you look past the powdery mildew riddled leaves you will see loads and loads of melons….

The tomatoes have been terrible again.   There is something going on and I need to get to the bottom of it.  I have been so good sanitizing the snips between plants, weeding, watering, and feeding regularly and spraying at the first sign of stubborn pests.  I think next season I will need to do things dramatically differently if I am to see a bountiful harvest, but at this point I have no idea what that will be.  

Tomatoes

The rag tag collection of tomatoes need a bit of love to limp them to the end of the season.

To be honest I haven’t been inundated with zucchini because at the end of December the wind snapped the tops out of three of the plants.   So, I popped in new seed and hoped for the best.  It couldn’t have worked out better as I had a good supply before we went away and now that life is returning to normal the new ones are starting to crank up production.  So, I didn’t end up with mountains of marrows while I took my eye off the garden.  Although the UFO scallopini stayed intact and so I have loads of giant ones that need to be dealt with ASAP. 

Zucchini

The zucchini plants are at that perfect stage, nice and young and vigorous and not bothered by old age related problems.

I haven’t given up on my attempt to have 4 varieties of corn in one season.  The popcorn is drying nicely, the sweet corn is nearly ready, and the glass gem corn isn’t far off sending up tassels.  But the Painted mountain corn only had one germinate.  I don’t know if it is because the seed is old (it is old seed) or something stole them from the soil.  I should have a bed with 10cm high corn right now but there is only one.  I soaked some more seeds to help with germination but then left them outside by mistake and surprise, surprise they have gone without a trace.  So, I will have to try again.  I think I’ll start in seed trays so I can control the conditions better, protect them from being eaten and keep and eye on them.   It is getting a little late in the growing season so I will also have to pray for a long hot autumn.  

corn seedling

One lowly painted mountain corn. As determined as it is, it isn’t enough by itself.

This also isn’t the best month to start a huge project.  But I did.   I needed some content for a deadline and thought it shouldn’t take long.   My bare wood sheds were beginning to show signs of the wear and tear this brutal location can do to wooden structures so I decided to paint them, to protect them from the elements and to kill two birds with one stone, give me something to write about.  Unfortunately, painting isn’t a quick task and I remembered not long into the project that I hate painting!  But once you start you can’t really stop. 

Painted sheds

After all the stress of getting every nook and cranny painted, I can now stand back and feel pleased. It has completely changed the look of the garden.

So, I have reached the end of the month with a garden that doesn’t look too worse for wear, a harvest at the point of a glut needing processing, not just enjoying the first fruits.   I have had a fabulous break – albeit in a tent (seriously I’m getting too old for a tent – give me a caravan any day) and spent quality time with family and I have protected my sheds which are now sporting a delightful blue and white coat. 

Giant pumpkin

I’m impressed with my Giant Pumpkin – I could be tracking for a personal best….

All going well February will be a better month with the return of routine and a sense of order and control.  Unless of course I take on another hairbrained project – which is quite likely as I have something rather large I want to create… 

Come again soon – the summer growing season is still in full swing.

Sarah the Gardener  : o)

And now we can begin properly.

This is always such an interesting time of year; the summer holidays just keep giving.  I have settled down in my garden office for the 3rd time this year determined to start the year on the right foot, with a calm and steady focus.  And then opportunities for summer fun came along that were too good to say no to.  And so, I have been off having fun.  

Making memories

Long summer days spent on the beach with family are memories that last forever.

But while having fun there have been moments of gardening goodness, where my Mum pickled some of my beetroot with her special recipe – although I did see her computer open to Annabel Langbein, so I don’t imagine for a moment it is an old family secret recipe but rather something delish she stumbled across and uses it so often that she mostly knows it by heart.   I have to say it is delish!   I watched my city nieces pick strawberries and enjoy the pleasures of sun warmed tomatoes of varieties not found in supermarkets.  And I made some kimchi from fresh garden ingredients. There was also plenty more beach and sun time and that is what summer is all about.

Beetroot and Kimchi

I love this time of year when the jars are filling up again! Thanks Mum for pickling the beetroot. I’m looking forward to trying the kimchi, but I suspect I may have made it a little bit spicy!

Hopefully now I can sit down and focus, plan and put things into action for the 2021 garden.  I have purchased a load of notebooks and am not afraid to fill them.  (Often if it is an exceptionally pretty notebook, I don’t want to spoil it with my untidy scrawl!  So, I bought nice looking plain ones!)

Fresh tomatoes

You can’t beat fresh tomatoes!

With STEADY as the word of the year, I am going to tackle the year in pieces.  Long term goals will be broken into bite sized chunks and started now so when I get to the long term days I’m not faced with a mountain.   Medium and short term days will be treated the same, so I don’t find myself stuck all day with one task.  This should make life more interesting. 

Strawberries

I’m pleased with my strawberries – after last seasons near death experience, the plants have recovered and continue to give delish treats!

With the eye on the future, I can work my way back to today.  I have booked a garden group visit for mid spring.  This will help me to keep my eye on the ball for the spring planting, winter garden prep, autumn end of season clean up and late summer cool season starting so everything occurs in good time.   Using my sector system properly to deal with the needs of the 5 groups in the vegie patch will be the key as in a good week this can take less then half an hour a day – unless there is a big task like digging up spuds.

a garden full of potential and hope

I just need to whip around the garden and sort out the holiday chaos and then turn my attention to the top of the stairs… exciting times!

When the system works properly it will free up time, time for a new adventure.  I have great plans.  I want to build a different kind of garden and have a space in mind.  It is one of the only other flat-ish bits of land here that is easily accessible, and I have already built the stairs to reach it.  It runs along behind the garden and in my head, I can see it finished with a million ideas I’m dying to try out.  It will be an exciting journey exploring what exactly is possible to do in this wild west coast environment.  There will probably be failure – there will definitely be failures, but I’m not one to follow instructions so we will just have to see how it goes.  I’m really excited about this shift in focus.   

one of life's challenges

This year is showing its hand early. I am bracing myself for challenges from all sorts of directions, including the weather. This is today. Today is also summer, but it would be hard to tell based on today alone. But that’s ok, the weather does change and the sun will be back!

The vegetable garden will always be at the heart of what I do as it feeds my family and is an expression of my love for them.  However, as teens, they will be looking to fledge the nest soon and I won’t need to grow as much food to fill their bottomless bellies.  And so, I need to find an alternative way to fulfill my gardening yearnings and to be honest I’m always up for taking on a challenging situation. 

New garden spot

This is the new garden spot. It will be a slow and enjoyable process. It could take years, but I wish you could see what I see in my head when I look upon this land!

So here we are at the 3rd attempt for a productive start to exciting new year, and that is ok.  Things don’t go according to plan and as a gardener this lesson was learnt long ago with ungerminated seeds, pest invasions and so many other nefarious things that can occur in a garden.   

Come again soon – exciting times are ahead.

Sarah the Gardener  : o)

Now the Year can begin

I have been away on our annual summer break.  I do find Christmas and the summer holiday a tad incompatible with a fully burgeoning garden, however that is an argument for another day and at the end of the day getting away from it all and spending time creating family memories takes precedence.  So, we dragged ourselves away from our lovely West Coast vista and headed off to the lovely vista on the East Coast, where the sand is white and the waves not so wild.

East Coast beach

This is a beach made for summer relaxing

We were nestled into a great camping spot in the midst of the bush with a babbling stream where the sound of the gentle waves competed with the birds as the soundtrack of our summer.  The Kiwi’s and Morkpork’s filled the night air and then handed over the Tui’s whose dawn chorus is an incredible sound, like being in a cathedral filled with a million bells.  We were right in there with nature… with no power, no internet and a tent that didn’t hold up all that well to the torrential rain on day 2! However, once the rain stopped and the campsite dried out, we had some spectacular summer days where memories were indeed made.

NZ Bush

This path just invites you to wander deeper into the bush

Not having any internet or power and not being a great swimmer, I decided I would spend some time doing garden research and dragged with me some of my fattest gardening books to delve into and make plans.  The lure of doing nothing set in the moment we arrived, and the books remained unopened and I am no further ahead with my new year’s planning than I was before we left…  Which is no where at all.

Stream in NZ Bush

A babbling stream in the bush is the perfect thing to cool down a hot still summer day

As the year is over a week old now, I will need to schedule in time for planning alongside the doing and try to find a balance.  I’m kind of looking forward to it as it means I will need to timetable my day a little so everything gets attention, which will avoid the boom and bust of focusing on one thing at a time.

Garden in the morning

It was great to come home and see the garden looking so good

The good news is the garden thrived in my absence.  There was rain, but no wind.  Thanks to the care I put in before I left, my tomatoes are pest and disease free.  I lost one tomato, the leaves are brown and crispy.  It is most likely down to disease so I will carefully remove it and avoid the spread.  I have been using hand sanitizer on my hands and tools in between handling each plant and it seems to have paid off.

Sweetcorn

The sweetcorn is looking wonderful. Last summer I came home from the holidays to find it flattened.

Dead tomato plant

If this poor tomato plant is the only casualty of my time away then I guess that is ok.

Everything else is looking wonderful, although there is work to be done, weeds to pull, and plans to make and a Wong Bok that looks almost ready to turn into kimchi.  I’m not entire sure what 2021 will look like in my garden as I have yet to decide, but I am looking forward to the process.

Come again soon – I’m about to make some lists.

Sarah the Gardener  : o)

The Strangest Year

2020 was an odd year and to be honest I am pleased it is behind us.

January started with pest and disease and turbulent storms in the garden.  Little did I know this would be a metaphor for the entire year.    February lulled us into a false sense of security and was more settled.  There seemed to be a rhythm and routine and order and control.  I barely remember it.  It feels so odd to have a time when things were progressing as they should.  However, it would seem this was the calm before the storm.  Everything was about to be turned upside down.

jan 2020

January:  Starting the new year always feels like stepping out over a new threshold.

As March turned to autumn it introduced us to Lockdown.  It didn’t change much in my world but at the same time it inexplicably changed everything.   April brought with it a weird inertia, at that time of year the garden was winding down, so there wasn’t much to do but what there was didn’t fill me with joy…  possibly as most of it was pulling things out and an emptying of the garden rather than the excitement of filling it up and all the hope and promise that brings.

Feb 2020

February:  The garden is at its height of abundance at this time of year. (And we got the first look at the new tool shed)

In an attempt to shake the mood, I decided to #MakeMayCount.  There is a natural lull in life during May as it is the doorstep to winter and what stretches ahead isn’t as joyful as the doorstep to summer.  I would like to think I do this again as it brings life into the days, although the lesson I need to learn from last May is not to over do things trying to make the month count.  May also had the added strangeness of re-entering the world again.  Busy hands prevented dwelling on just how scary this was…  Was it actually safe, could we trust in what we once took for granted?

Mar 2020

March:   The sign on the shed – Grateful, Thankful, Blessed couldn’t feel more appropriate in light of what was about to happen.

June brought with the winter and a slower pace after the busy heady May days.  Just pottering about and starting to think about making plans for the new growing season.  July was typically winter with the ravages of storms and the turn of the calendar suggesting spring is closer than realized.  

April 2020

April:   was as weird as having an abundance of watermelon in mid autumn!

Looking back over August invokes feelings of stress and overwhelmedness.  I had taken my eye off the ball too much in the early mid-winter and now the entire growing season needed planning and preparation in a short space of time and if that wasn’t enough, we were plunged into another lockdown and the sense of weirdness returned.

May 2020

May:  In spite of days like these it was a very productive month.

Spring arrived in September with all the fanfare and excitement of a new growing season but with the underlying currents of a hastily prepared party, it was good enough, but not nearly as wonderful as I had hoped for. 

June 2020

June:  Just to add to the strangeness of the year I had self seeded sunflowers in winter!

October contained a milestone – a birthday with an ‘0’ in it.  Birthdays with ‘0’s in them always leave you questioning how you are going in life and I love where we are and what we are doing.   It coincided with the big spring plant out week and it really felt like a new beginning, the start of something wonderful, and yet the continuation of something that feels right and comfortable, like an old sock.

July 2020

July:   Midwinter was as was expected with plenty of storm weather.

November was a month of spring storms, holidays and reaching that sweet spot where the garden was finally planted out.  The time away from the garden for weather or leisure didn’t impact the tasks required from the garden.  But then November is always that month that is like the eye of the storm, the one where you can stop with the prepping and planning and enjoy the calm before the harvest and the festive season kicks in.

Aug 2020

August:   The time was right for making plans in the warmth of the office.

This December hasn’t been the easiest, the unbalanced and unsettled nature of life since the arrival of the first lockdown, culminated in an end of year frenzy of activity ‘to get things finished’ for the year.  However, this beginning and ending feels imagined especially when you are in the middle of the growing season and have yet to see an abundance of anything in the harvest basket.   

Sept 2020

September:  The potential for the entire harvest was sown in seed.

But a good push to cross things off the list, means 2021 will start afresh and the navel gazing of this blog post will help to set things in place so the good is repeated and the worst is cast aside.  

In hindsight I think I’m going into the new year in a different position as the entire garden is in control – there are problems, however they aren’t insurmountable and if things fail, then there is nothing to be done about it, so I’m trying not to lose energy and effort worrying about it. If I have put my best foot forward, then what will be will be.

Oct 2020

October:  Growth multiplies quickly at this time of year.

I started last year with the word Overcome but standing at the other end of the year it feels like the word has morphed into Overwhelm.

My words from this time last year still apply:   ”It makes sense then that my new year’s resolutions would be a focus of health and wellbeing with a bit of mindfulness thrown in for good measure.” … “I envisaged a sense of calm and slow gentleness where life falls into place perfectly and the garden will flourish under this new approach.”

Nov 2020

November:   It is important to make time to enjoy life, like a mini break away in the beautiful Queenstown.

What I need to do this year is approach it with a more level head.  Yes, take time to unwind, but also plan and prepare so the future doesn’t come as a surprise.  I need to even out the boom and bust situations in the garden so there is a gentle ebb and flow that is more enjoyable no matter what the weather or the season.  Plunging oneself into situations of panic on a regular basis isn’t good for overall wellbeing. 

Dec 2020

December:  The garden today, on the verge of an abundant harvest.

The word for 2021 shall be ‘Steady’ as in ‘steady as she goes’.

Come again soon – next year things will be the same but different.

Oh and…  Happy New Year!!!

Sarah the Gardener : o)

Merry Christmas

The run up to Christmas has been a little bit hectic, with last minute shopping and a busy work life balance, but I can now finally throw myself into all things Christmas and enjoy the festive season with my family.  But before I completely switch off my computer gardening and indulge in festive kitchen gardening and gentle garden gardening to maintain all that is growing there, I decided to do a quick tour to share with you what we will be eating from the garden this Christmas.  Most of it will be harvested on the day, moments before eating, because not only is it better this fresh, but it is also a great excuse to get a bit of gardening in on the big day!

Zucchini Flower

‘It’s like a Christmas star!’

So sit back and enjoy the tour and I’ll be back with more garden goodness for you in early 2021.

Come again soon – but in the meantime have a Merry Christmas and a Safe and Happy New Year.

Sarah the Gardener  : o)

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