SARAH THE GARDENER

The rains came!

Finally, after 6 weeks without decent rain (not counting the pitiful amount that arrived 4 days after the 115mm deluge), and enduring higher than normal temperatures, the dry spell has been broken.   This has been looming tentatively on the weather outlook for weeks, teasing us with its variably as it finds its final position on the forecast.   But even as recently as yesterday morning they were suggesting we would receive 140mm with 53.8mm of that happening in one single hour.  In reality we got just half of that – starting in the night and winding up late morning, finishing off with a rainbow.

today's rainfall

I’m happy with this amount of rain, for now, with normal seasonal top ups from time to time.

what could have been

Fortunately this forecast from yesterday was quite far off the mark for us and was adjusted to a lot less by the time it got to us!

Other locations north of us fared a lot worse with our entire 70mm coming in just an hour and more than a month’s worth during the entire storm.  There has been flooding and damage to many places and properties, so we seem to have escaped the worst of it.

rain on the horizon

It was pretty bleak there for a while.

flooded lawn

While this looks terrible, it had all drained away shortly after the rain stopped.

And the beauty of being on sand is, while the back yard was flooded with puddles while it was raining, since it has stopped it has all soaked away, locked in deep into the soil.  Just the kind of reset my soil has been crying out for.    There is supposed to be intermittent rain showers for the rest of the week, but nothing like today, so I need to plan carefully what I do next, but with a good deeply quenched soil the opportunities are exciting and once again sowing and planting is back on the list.

rainbow

There is nothing like a rainbow to signal the end of a storm.

Blue skies

And just like that, the skies cleared like nothing had even happened.

With the autumnal equinox occurring in the midst of the rain in the wee small hours, the season has quite firmly made its position known – we are no longer in summer, and there is no point pretending any more.  But that is ok – autumn is my favourite season – so long as it doesn’t transition too sharply into winter!

Come again soon – the garden and the gardener will be reinvigorated after today.

Sarah the Gardener  : o)

Waiting for rain

The garden seems to be in some sort of holding pattern.  The old summer plants are limping along, being supplemented by frequent watering and liquid feeds like they are on some kind of life support.  They are still productive and there is a modest harvest, but it is so dry.   And while we are no longer in those heady high temperature days, it is still hot in the grand scheme of things – too hot to walk on the sandy paths with bare feet in the middle of the afternoon kind of hot.

Endless blue sky

We have had nothing but endless blue sky with no rain in sight.

Even the weeds refuse to grow.  It is like a stale mate.  I have things I’d like to do, like sow cover crops, buy and plant plants from an ever-growing wish list, make changes and repairs to areas that haven’t fared well over this last growing season and enjoy the pleasure of good honest, get ya hands dirty gardening.  But aside from it being too hot and too dry, it is not the time to be planting or sowing anything.  The demand of keeping them moist is too great right now.  I’ll leave that to the garden centre for the things on the list and keep cover crop seeds in seed packets.  Before any plants go into the ground, it needs a good deep soak, but more than that it needs to stay damp while everything establishes.

zinnia

Even the zinnia look hot!

I can manage the cool season seedlings in a handful of seed trays because I have them directly out the front of my office door where I can almost trip over them.  Watering these reminds me to water the 4 rows I directly sowed into the garden at the same time.  But beyond this, too much effort is required to fight against the conditions.

Tomatoes

We’re still getting some delish tomatoes

There is rain in the forecast.  Last time I looked there was a big fat rain cloud icon for this Thursday, then it moved to Friday.  Now it is showing up on Sunday, with light showers following for four days afterwards.  But I’m not holding my breath – I’ve seen this before.  The big fat rain cloud icon on the forecast evaporates as easily as it would if it landed on my parched earth.

Cool season seedlings

The cool season seedlings are doing ok for now.

The other thing about rain where we are on the coast, is it tends to avoid us.  There is a large river mouth to the south of us and an inlet to a harbour to the north and the rain – from what I have observed, is the rain follows the water and you can watch it out to sea, carelessly spilling water from laden clouds into the ocean as it makes its way inland everywhere but here. It feels like such a waste… the salty sea has no need for the extra fresh water.  Even watching the rain radar imagery, you can see in real time the clouds part above us, as if a well intentioned by misguided effort to protect us from a deluge.

Peas

The pea seedlings are up.

I imagine in the winter – as I have forgotten what it is like to be constantly cold and wet, I will be grateful for this pattern, which would give us a break from the relentlessness of winter.  And I have promised myself not to moan and complain about the winter weather – although I will probably also forget this as summer becomes a distant memory.

work in progress

I have continued to work on the first section of the new room in The Palace Garden. I’m very pleased with the progress.

So, for now I just wait – ready to jump in and get some good gardening done as soon as the weather changes and the rains come.

Come again soon – it can’t stay dry forever!

Sarah the Gardener  : o)

Mostly Pictures

… And a few words to go with them.   The mornings are turning out to be quite productive as the cooler starts stretch well into the day before the heat drives me indoors again.  The temperature is still getting up to 30C in the garden in the hottest part of the afternoon.

But it isn’t just the pleasant working conditions that make gardening great, the light levels seem to make it all quite magical and this morning I couldn’t help but take a load of photos as the opportunities presented themselves.

red peppers

Just when I was at my limit for hot sauce, the plants seem to have a new lease on life and have the flowers to prove it. If this weather keeps up there is every chance they will grow to into fine red peppers like this one.

tomatoes

I’m so pleased with my tomatoes, the fact they are still hanging in there at this stage of the season. It hasn’t happened for ages! I put it down to the insect net that protected them for most of the season. When it blew off in the storm I figured I was already in borrowed time so if they lasted a little longer that would be great but wasn’t expecting them to last this long!

Kohlrabi

You have to admit, for a strange looking vegetable, kohlrabi is kind of cute!

white cosmos

I am loving my white cosmos, they have just gone from strength to strength this season and there is something quite therapeutic in regularly deadheading them.

Butternut squash

Just one of the many butternut squash in the the garden, hanging in there while they fully mature!

pumpkin flower

The brilliant flash of yellow from an optimistic pumpkin flower is a joy to see, but alas there is zero chance, even with a bumblebee kiss, that it will make it to fruition.

Kale

The kale looks like an explosion of green goodness.

radish seedlings

The radish seedlings are up and looking strong and healthy.

Fennel flowers

There is a vibrancy about fennel flowers – the pop of yellow like a firework always catches my eye.

Fennel the Cat

Speaking of fennel…  Fennel the Cat basks in the heat of the greenhouse. It is a favourite spot of hers on these autumnal mornings. 

The wildlife pond

The California Poppies beside the wildlife pond seem to float like butterflies above their foliage.

empty greenhouse

The process of cleaning the greenhouse has begun with the removal of everything that was in it.

work in progress

I have also begun work on Room 2 of The Palace garden. It doesn’t look like much at this point but I can see the end result in my head and it will be marvelous.

So far so good – it has been quite a productive week in the garden – and we’re only halfway through.

Come again soon – a garden is a really nice place to hang out.

Sarah the Gardener  : o)

Dry Days

Last week was a strange week.  In fact, it seems we are living in a strange world and there is so much uncertainty than concentrating on anything for too long can seem overwhelming.    But the garden is always a place of peace and somewhere to lose yourself in.

wilted silverbeet

The silverbeet is quite droopy and needs more frequent watering than many other plants in the garden.

The mornings have been much cooler and it has been lovely to potter about without overheating, but the afternoons are still not ready to give up on the summer loving and the temperatures are still in the realms of too hot.  And all that rain we had recently seems to have lost its cooling affect in the soil and the plants are back to gasping for moisture, dramatically pretending to die in the afternoons.  Watering everything is an ongoing constant.  It is easy enough in the main beds hooked up to the irrigation, but there are loads of areas dotted around the place that for the most part thrive on their own but are also beginning to gasp for a drink.  We had to get some more water in as the tanks were getting low again.   It is almost like the heavy rains didn’t come at all.

carrot row

While this looks like an empty spot of soil, it is home to the next row of carrots, once they pop up.

Having said that it was a whole month since we had that 115ml rain.  Gosh no wonder!  Where does the time go, it doesn’t seem that long ago at all!  Ok so now that makes sense.    I will need to increase my watering vigilance as the forecast doesn’t look great for more rain – there is nothing but the hint of a single light shower for the next 10 days.

Pumpkins

A modest haul of pumpkins, but it will do for us.

Aside from the watering dramas, this season suits me well.  The garden operates at a slower pace.  I took the time to harvest some of my pumpkins.  Not all of them, just the ones that had all the classic signs of being ready – with dead, crispy leaves, brown stems, and corky brown stalks.   I love the variety I have grown this year.  There are my old favourites, grey crown, butternut, and butter cup, which I know to have good flavour and texture and will keep us going steadily through the winter with a comforting ‘meal hug’ to lift us out of the dismal days to come.   Especially now that the vocal ‘pumpkin disliker’ has left home.

Lady Godiva Pumpkin

there isn’t much to look at inside the Lady Godiva Pumpkin, but there are loads of seeds hidden within. The need to be fished out and roasted soon after harvesting or they begin to sprout.

But I also have some interesting ones to play with in the kitchen – some Baby Bear, sugar pie and what was supposed to be a Long Island Cheese but looks nothing like it should.  I also have some Lady Godiva which is grown for its seeds.  The flesh isn’t supposed to be all that great so maybe Snowy the Goat or the Chickens can have that, or possibly the best place for it will be the compost heap.  I’m quite excited about this as pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds are a kitchen cupboard staple around here as they make such a lovely crunchy garnish to salads.   So far this season the birds have stolen all my sunflower seeds!

Not so giant pumpkin

My not so giant pumpkin only came in at 8.6kg. Certainly not a personal best by any stretch!

I have also sown all of my cool season seeds – except broccoli as I only had an empty packet in my seed tin.  I will need to get some more and get them sown sooner rather than later.  Nestled in the seed trays are mostly brassica – all the usuals – cabbage, cauliflower, and kohlrabi, but also leek, fennel, and several varieties of salad crop.   The lettuces have not enjoyed the high temperatures in the garden and most bolted to seed before getting much bigger than the seedlings I plant out.

untidy greenhouse

The greenhouse needs a jolly good tidy up

Directly in the garden I have sown radish, peas, swede, and carrot, but the space these and the other seedlings will occupy doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the bare earth beginning to appear as crops come to an end.  I will need to sow cover crops soon to bring life and organic material back to the emptiness.  Possibly a job for this week.

Unbroken ground

This unbroken ground is the site of my next project.

But this week I have something else in mind.   I have two big tasks planned – the first is to clear out the greenhouse and get it ready for some cool season action – it has just been too hot in there recently for anything at all – even with everything open.    The other task is to get started on the new room in The Palace Garden.  I have tried not to take on as much as I did in the rock garden, but we’re in the preliminary planning stage and so far, it seems manageable, and the time is right to just make the leap and get started.   All going well it should be just a wonderful as the first room in The Palace Garden.

Come again soon – it should be a good week in the garden.

Sarah the Gardener  : o)

The Last Day…

Or is it?  Depending on how you look at it today is the last day of summer, or it isn’t.  Going by the meteorological system that divides the seasons by the calendar says today – the last day in February is the last day of summer.  However, the astronomical system that divides the seasons based on the location of the earth in relation to the sun, means there are another three weeks to go.   Ordinarily I like to be a bit free and easy and go with a meteorological start and an astronomical finish to maximise the season.

High and low temperatures

I find myself watching the lows as well as the current temperature, whereas in the past I was completely ignoring it.

This year I’m over it so I will happily concede the season to autumn at the end of the day.  The mornings are comfortably cooler and there is a heavy dew on the grass which is doing a great job of restoring the verdant green to my once brown lawn.  I find myself paying closer attention to the minimum temperature on the thermometer as well as the maximum one.  And while I doubt, we will see the record high of 38.5 again any time soon, the afternoons are still trying their best to rise from the below 10 degrees morning starts and are still quite troublesome at 31.5°C.   I imagine, once autumn is in full control again, I will need to start the day with warm socks and a fluffy jumper and I’m ok with that.

green tomatoes

There are plenty of tomatoes that are yet to ripen up.

So as the seasons pass over to a new page, it is a good opportunity to do a bit of a reset.  Have a fresh mindset to take into the future.  It is funny the way a moment like this is a great way to punctuate time to allow for a new shot at change.  Why it doesn’t sit logically on a Tuesday at 2:15 in the afternoon in the middle of the month is beyond me.  Or maybe it is just me and I need to have a good excuse to reframe things, in the same way 10:30 on a Thursday morning is a great time to write off a bad week hoping for a better start on Monday.

butternut squash

There are plenty of butternut squash this season for those heart warming winter soups.

So, shaking off a horrible summer – thanks to the unbearable heat, I will take stock and go back through the season and count my blessings, look for opportunities to improve, then write them down and put them somewhere I will find at the beginning of the new growing season, so I don’t forget and make the same mistakes again.  I will begin to remove the lingering traces of summer – the plants that are no longer required and to be fair to them, they are just exerting more energy than they have left to give me one more cucumber.

cucumber plant

This poor tidy cucumber plant seems to have found enough energy for a last gasp.

With the removal of the summer crops will come the starting of the new season cool crops.  I could have technically started them earlier, but I have figured my garden runs about 4 – 5 degrees hotter than the weather forecast says it is, so it would still be much too hot for many of the cool season varieties, and they’d just bolt to seed.  This is a lesson this garden has taught me.  Nature has its own sense of timing, and we need to find this rhythm and match it.  Trying to force it into my timing never turns out very well.   A good gardener is always watching and learning, and the garden is a very good teacher.

Empty bed

The bare places are beginning to appear in the garden already.

The options for cool season crops aren’t as abundant as the many choices available in the summer so this leaves empty space in the garden.  As nature abhors bare earth and will quickly attempt to reclaim it with weeds, I will sow cover crops to help cover the soil.  This will lock in nutrients to prevent them being leached away in winter rains and return them to the soil as organic material in time for them to be broken down and available for the crops next season.  I do love the lush appearance the cover crops give to what would otherwise be a mostly barren garden.

luffa

As an autumnal celebration, tomorrow I will pick my luffas.

For the first time in ages, there is a spark of joy when thinking about the garden, opportunities to make changes by starting tasks and seeing them through to completion without being driven indoors by the relentless heat.   Bring on the autumn, it is more than welcome here!

Come again soon – actual gardening will be happening a lot more frequently!

Sarah the Gardener  : o)

Clearing the Air

After a few weeks of unbearable heat and oppressive humidity, things were feeling quite dire.  The only time the temperatures were low enough to do anything sensible in the garden was briefly in the morning before being driven away with sweat beading on the brow and gasping for a cooling drink.  The fans in the house ineffectively pushed warm air about the place but provided little respite.  Even the flies that became trapped in house were lazy and drowsy, creating a constant slow battle of swiping them away only to have them immediately return.     The overall feeling that summed up these days was apathy.    There was certainly no joy, and any bursts of energy were short lived.

storm damaged corn

The glass gem corn is the worst damage we have, but it shouldn’t take long to pop them back upright and give them a feed with plenty of seaweed tonic to reduce the stress and they should bounce back.

But then relief appeared on the horizon.  But wielding a double edged sword.  It was the reset we were looking for, however there was a price to pay for it.   The tropical cyclone Dovi was bearing down bringing with it high winds and rain.  The warnings were desperate pleas from the Civil Defence to brace ourselves for the worst.  So, we rounded up torches, filled containers with drinking water, and got out the camp stove in case the power went out.  We battened down the hatches and secured items that could potentially be a flight risk and waited it out.

Rain gauge

We didn’t get all that much but some is always better than nothing at this time of year.   If you look closely you can also see the residue of the salt laden winds – as if normal wind wasn’t bad enough.

It did turn into a pretty serious nationwide event with power out for many, trees down all over the place and great flooding in several regions.   For us it seemed like we dodged the worst.  The wind straight off the ocean gusted up over 140km/h at the worst of it, but we’ve had gusts of 212km/h before – when the house was up on jacks during the removal process, so we know our house is solid and everything else has been built strong, knowing what nature is capable of.

storm damage

The overall harm to the garden is from the sand. The wind picks it up and throws it at the plants in an abrasive blast. I love the sand on the paths, but it has some serious down sides. I may need a rethink….

Our power stayed on throughout and we only got 15mm of rain, but even that isn’t so bad as the ground is still pretty happy with the 115mm we got the previous week in a rainstorm that did nothing to alleviate the temperatures except introduce humidity to what was previously a dry heat.

Tomatoes

The insect net over the tomatoes was flapping in the wind like a runaway bride so we took it off to avoid damage. The tomatoes seem mostly ok, but will need some love.

So today in a great seasonal reset the temperatures are in the low 20°Cs and quite lovely.  The sky is blue, and the forecast is promising it will stay that way for the foreseeable future.  There will be rain from time to time and that is ok as the garden loves rain, but the heady high temperatures are behind us, and we will begin the slow and pleasant descent into the next season.

Roast Vegetables for soup

It hasn’t felt like soup weather for ages, but was just perfect during the storm. I didn’t realised I’d accidently laid the vegetables in the roasting pan in a rainbow style until I pulled them out of the oven!

My first job is to do what I can to repair the damage from the storm.  There isn’t all that much, thank goodness but there are some plants that need a bit of a hand.   And then I can once again immerse myself in the garden, enjoying the routine of even the most mundane chores without feeling like it is some kind of endurance test in extreme conditions.

Come again soon – normal daily gardening will resume again.

Sarah the Gardener  : o)

Just add water.

This summer has been hot and dry.  The last decent deluge was back in December when I despaired that my young plants would be ruined – stricken with fungal disease before they even got started.  But alas no, they pulled through and went on into the growing season looking great and the garden looked healthy and promising well into the new year.   Not to mention the rain storm a few weeks ago where we watched in dismay as the imagery on the rain radar showed clouds full to bursting with rain split in two and go around our place without so much as a drop!

Water lily

The levels in the wild life pond are back up to the top. It was on my list last week to top it up a little as it was starting to evaporate in the heat. The water lily seems to be loving life.

And then the heat came.  It was too much – for me and the garden.  The temperatures soared up into the 30’s which is hot for us.  It didn’t help that the black sand magnified things beyond what it was like outside the garden.   Extreme temperatures like this are not good for me and I found myself wrestling with heat related fatigue instead of stubborn weeds.  Fortunately, the garden was in a good enough condition that it could cope without the need for daily interventions, except for the need for water.

succession seedlings

I need to get out there in the cool of the evening and plant my succession seedlings so they can settle in before having to face the midday heat. And while everything is still damp. Then think about getting the cool season crops on the go.

Up until now, my irrigation system of watering one sector a day – delivering a good deep drink once every 5 days was more than enough to keep the garden happy and healthy.  But this season the plants seemed to demand more and more, and I was giving extra feeds between the cycles in a hydrating game of ‘whack-a-mole’ going from one bed about to turn up its toes to another.    This seemed to satisfy most of the crops – but not all.  The cucumbers seem to have given up the ghost.  I may pop in some new seeds for a sneaky late crop before the season turns cold.  I was worried about the corn as the lower leaves were on the verge of browning for the last few weeks.  But the harvest – the cobs left untouched by the possums, gave me enough plump and juicy cobs for the freezer.

115mm of rain

Not a bad amount of rain for a weekend! I’ve emptied it out as it looks like we will have round two again very soon – unless the forecast changes.

I have decided that I don’t actually like summer – or at the very least the middle of summer.  It is over hyped as the season to look forward to, but it is just brutal.  There is no pleasure in being out in the heat and any work that needs doing is harder than it needs to be if only we weren’t operating in a furnace.  Give me spring any day.  While it is still cold and wet, it is full of hope, or the waning days of summer and early autumn when the harvest is in full swing but at temperatures much more manageable and gives a warm glow not unlike a hug.   I need to remember this for next year – summer is not to be anticipated with excitement but braced for with plans to avoid the ordeal it becomes so it remains a product time.

Windy corn

It was also very windy but the blessing to take is it was an off shore wind so wasn’t laden with salt.

The weather was set to stay the course for the next few weeks and with February historically the most settled month I was bracing myself to end more of the same.  However, this weekend the rains came, and not just drips and drops but a good deep quenching rain.   115 mm of solid persistent rain.  The kind that slowly seeps into the depths of the earth and restores the balance.   The garden feels fresher and greener with the dust washed off and the once limp branches standing tall and proud.    The temperatures in the coming days are still forecast to be hot, but it feels like we have had a reset in the balance of things and facing the days doesn’t feel so insurmountable.  The slow approach to the next season feels manageable as it beckons with it cosy embrace.  I think even the return of the bright sunny days will have the sting removed from its tail and will actually be appreciated for the joy it can bring as the days like these begin to become numbered.

The view from the office

This isn’t a bad view from my office door, everything looks lush and vibrate. I do love how a good rain makes everything seem so fresh.

Come again soon – I look forward to the coming weeks as gardening is about to be a lot more bearable.

Sarah the Gardener  : o)

Juggling the Heat

I can say that, for this week, progress has been made.  But it feels a little like it was hard fought for.   Aside from easing myself out of a boom and bust yo-yo cycle where I do too much one day and pay for it the next, (this doesn’t seem to be swinging so wildly between the stages of frenzy and inertia so much anymore, which is a good sign) but the summer temperatures have been brutal.  I think this has been helping control the yo-yo as you’d have to be mad to garden out in the middle of the day, so the better part of the day is spent in more gentle pursuits.

Digital Thermometer

Hmmm – she’s a bit hot out there.

I bought a new digital thermometer because I thought my old one was broken as it seemed to be reading too high all the time.  It turns out there was nothing wrong with it and my poor old garden gets up to some lofty highs.  I put this down to the black sand that makes up the paths.  Ordinarily it’s a great material for a path, but in these few summer months, with the combined affect of the windbreak, which attempts to slow the wild winds, the temperatures in the garden get a little hot.  The latest record breaking temperature sitting on the Max position is 38.5°C.   Currently I’m quite obsessed with the Max number, but notice the Min is reading 14.8°C which suggests our hot, sleepless nights with the windows open won’t be with us forever.

Carrot

This mighty fine carrot was crispy and juicy all the way through and not woody at all. I was kinda expecting it to be a touch woody considering its size! : o)

The weather at this time of year can be quite fickle.  Earlier this week there was a heavy rain warning that stretched out across most of the country promising to refresh parched land.  In anticipation, and in a desire to save water, I held off watering thinking I’d let the skies do it.  This was a big mistake…  we got barely a drop.  At one point we checked out the rain radar and watched in disbelief as the rain cloud imagery split into two clouds and went completely around us, like it was intentional.  The hardest bit is we could see it raining out at sea!

Ploughman's pickle ingredients

It took a considerable amount of chopping to get all the veggies into the pot. It was well worth it as the end result is delish!

So as a result, garden progress has been a bit slow.   The actual garden itself is in good shape and doesn’t need a lot of attention at all.  It is pretty much weed free and is growing nicely.    The exciting thing is the plants have long since left the sweet first tastes and are beginning to become a bit of a glut.   And with the glut comes processing it all and setting it up for the winter.  This week I have whipped up some Cowboy Candy with my jalapeno’s and spent a good hour or two chopping carrots, kohlrabi, zucchini, onion, dates, apples and anything else that looked like it would work – into a mishmash of several recipes that purported to be a close knock off of a good Ploughman’s Pickle of a certain brand.    Now I’m eying up the Hungarian Wax Peppers as they look like they are almost ready to be pickled.  Maybe in the midday heat next week.

Cowboy Candy

I need to get some soft cheese and crisp crackers to fully indulge in this Cowboy Candy, before it becomes a condiment of choice and used up in things like burgers and nachos.

I have also been chipping away at my corners of shame.  If my visitors come – at this point it is slipping into the realms of an ‘if’, as the situation here has become, all of a sudden, a bit iffy.  And hunkering down in a tight bubble increasingly seems like the best option for the time being.   Well, if they come, I want them to enjoy the swing seat and admire the view without risking life and limb to get to it.   I know where the steps are and can easily pick my way through the long grass.  But for anyone else it is nothing more than a health and safety nightmare.  So, each day in the cool of the morning I was out there cutting back the grass and wilderness.  I was quite pleased with the results.  Not only is it now safe, but I found growing along the side some wild Muehlenbeckia, that with a bit of training can become a nice hedge outlining the path.  I can see it now.

Path to swing seat

The impenetrable path to the swing seat.

And just like that the week slipped out from underneath me, taking the first month of the year with it.  But I shall carry on and work on my corners of shame as it is easier to manage the managed than tackling nightmares.

Path to swing seat

Much better, now we can get to the swing seat in safety.

Come again soon – I have another corner to set my sights upon, where all sorts of other problems should find solutions and fall into place as a result.

Sarah the Gardener  : o)

A Day in the Life of Me

Today was a good day.  Yesterday, not so much.  MS doesn’t cope well in the heat, and it is inclined to drag me down with it, especially if I’ve done too much in the previous days.  I can end up with a frustrating yo-yo effect where I’m well and super productive – mostly trying to catch up on the previous day where I found myself with no energy and spend all day stuck on the sofa.    I trying to be better with my time management and only work outside in the mornings until the sand gets too hot to stand on.    This is a habit in the making and so far, so good – when I’m not laid low.

View from bedroom

I have a magnificent view from my bed!

As today was a good day I though I’d show you what I get up to on a good day.  There is no point showing you a bad day…  there is nothing to see at all.   So below is a pictorial story of my day.   You can click on the images to view them full size.

The first thing I did was to check my To Do list to decide where my priorities lay. I have my list in a glamorous shiny gold folder… because why not. (Actually it was the only one I could find and it was on sale!)

Each morning I set the sprinkler on the native plant windbreak hill going. I’ve accidently lost a few plants here so I’m not taking any chances this time.

Then I do a quick tour of the garden to make sure everything is ok. This morning I noticed all these tiny insects flying together above the dome. They looked like starlings doing their murmuration. I just had to stop and watch.

It is interesting to check out the tracks in the sand to see who has been visiting. It is a good indication of potential problems. But the possum poo on the deck is a good sign of potential problems too!

I’m trying to knock as many projects off my list as I can before the garden club visit next month.  I had a couple of fruit trees on behind the sheds – a tamarillo and a feijoa but unfortunately even with the green mesh windbreak – the wind was just too strong, and they have both perished.  I decided I wanted to make more of this space, so I invested in some willow garden screen to bolster the green mesh.  If it works well, I’ll put it across the main garden too.

The Willow Garden Screen is quite pricey, but it comes as 180cm tall. So by cutting it in half I’m doubling the value and it fits the job.

It is super easy to cut through, which is just as well as it was too early in the day to drag Hubby the Un-Gardener away from his work to cut it for me!

I’m quite pleased with the way this looks. I have also attached a plastic coated wire across the whole thing to help hold it together in strong winds. I really hope it holds up and provides a nice little nook behind the sheds. (This view is down the side of the shed – the back is still a ‘corner of shame.’)

While working on the screen it suddenly got really hot and muggy. I looked up to see a sky promising rain… gosh we need it.

Well – we got rain… this was pretty much it which isn’t a lot of good. We need so much more than that. Hubby the Un-Gardener said my garden is drinking more than an alcoholic!

After finishing up I had a well earned breakfast of tomato on toast. I love those lovely large ones where one slice is enough for each piece of toast!

Next I pottered about doing odd jobs and looking after the needs of the sector of the day. I seem to find deadheading my cosmos quite relaxing.

This is one of my ‘corners of shame’. To be honest I’m not sure how I allowed the path to get this bad – but I just took an alternative route and promised myself I’d get to it one day soon.

Well today was that day. And it didn’t take long at all. I really should have done it ages ago! It looks so clean shaven – like someone who has just removed a moustache! The shallots look like they’re done – I should pull them out too.

During the pottering about I came across a large cucumber I’d missed. It is such a fine specimen. I think I will turn it into tzatziki. Tomorrow we will be going Greek!

The sand became too hot to stand on so I came inside to do some computer gardening. Fortunately the house isn’t one that holds the heat in summer and it is cool and fresh – especially with the windows open letting in a gentle sea breeze. I answered all my emails, whipped up a short article and ticked off all my daily computer gardening tasks from my shiny gold To Do book.

While the house is cool, it isn’t cold and the heat does get into your bones so a quick dip is great to really the only thing for it.

Once the sting from the sun began to lessen, I headed back out to the garden to see if anyone was thirsty and in need of attention. The beans were gasping so I gave them a long thirst quenching drink.

I also watered the seedlings I planted under the arch extension I built the other day.

The irrigation trolley was repositioned to the next hub in the irrigation cycle so the next sector on the list will get a good soak first thing tomorrow morning. I love the irrigation system. It saves so much of my time.

And I gave my seedlings one last drink for the day. Their small pots dry out so quickly I feel like I’m constantly watering them.

The last thing I did in the garden was to gather up all the tools I’d used during the day and put them all away in the shed.

There was just enough time to whip up a quick dinner including this colourful bean and vegetable salad, Most of the vegetables have come from the garden and tasted so fresh!

The very last thing for the day was to host a live Q&A on the Yates NZ Facebook page, answering vegetable growing questions and comments. It didn’t go too late this evening, but was a fun and lively chat. If you want to join in and ask a question or share a success from your garden – I’m there every Wednesday night from 7pm. There is a free pack of seeds to be won each week. (For kiwi gardeners only but overseas friends feel free to stop by and have a look.)

Sunset

After a busy day the sun sank into the ocean. It wasn’t the brightest or prettiest sunset we’ve ever had but the clouds hold the possibility of maybe a drop of rain overnight… you never know.

And that was my day.  I’m pleased with how productive it was, although I’m wary of the possibility I may have done too much and will enter the yo-yo cycle again.  Only tomorrow will know.  I hope I have taken enough care – staying hydrated and having a few short sit down breaks along the way to be able to get as many things crossed off the list tomorrow.

Come again soon – I have more than enough going on to keep me busy for quite some time.

Sarah the Gardener  : o)

Not Panicking Yet

As I mentioned in the last update, I have a wonderful garden club coming to visit the garden next month, and I need to make the corners look nice.  I think in the face of everything else I was in a little bit of denial as to just how bad I’d let those corners get.   Looking at it through the eyes of others and how they might see it – I’d die of shame as it is right now.  And so now as well as chipping away at the daily routine of weeding, feeding, and watering one of the 5 sectors, I’m trying to squeeze in a little project each day to sort out the ‘corners of shame’.

Eggplant

Soon it will be eggplant season – hooray. Although those spikes on the Baby Brinjal do frighten me a little.

If I just count the weekdays without other commitments in them, I only have 15 days to tidy the corners even though the visit is still a month away.  That isn’t a lot of time really – I may need help from somewhere.  I did have one of the teen lads helping me and that was working well until his hayfever got too bad.

Cleared out pond

The wildlife pond was full of scum, covered in duck weed and had evaporated to barely there. Around the outside were too many weeds – it was quite the mess – so I cleared it out and topped it up.

Barley straw for the pond

I made a small bale of barley straw and chucked it in the pond. It is supposed to help reduce algal growth in the water, which would be great, because I’ve had a lot of that in there too!

Dealing with future weeds

After clearing away the weeds there were a lot of weed seeds about the place. So I decided to treat them in a similar way to an old microbiological technique I learned back in the day called Tyndallization. It is how they used to sterilize things before modern technology. They would heat the substance to boiling point for 15 minutes for three days in a row – and the unwanted bacterial spores would germinate and then be subsequently be destroyed by the following days boiling until there were no spores left. So I figure if I water and germinate the weed seeds, hoe them off and then repeat the process a couple more times I should be able to get a relatively weed free soil to plant into. I’ll let you know how I get on.

In spite of being a terrible creature of habit, I have rejigged my days, so I am up and in the garden, nice and early.  I even started with a light jumper on this morning – but that only lasted no more than 10 minutes before I whipped it off due to a bit of a glow on my brow.  It has been a hot summer – even with the gentle sea breezes coming off the coast.  The black sand on the garden paths doesn’t help, and the garden can easily get to the high 30°Cs before lunchtime.   I have found I can be quite productive if I stay out there long enough not to burn my bare feet on the sand – this is normally until about 11am.  Then I come inside and do my computer gardening and head back out again as the temperatures cool down and I can walk on the sand again…  If I’m not too exhausted – that happens sometimes.

Seedling protection

I’ve put the seedlings in a low shallow tray so they can retain any water than drips through or down the sides. In this weather they need all the help they can get. I’ve also pegged a net over the top to stop any Cabbage White Butterflies getting at my brassica seedlings. Having said that I haven’t seen so many about the place lately – it could be down to the fact there are plenty of paper wasps about, eating caterpillars. The wasps and I have an understanding – if I leave them alone they leave me alone. It seems to work well.

It is good to have this long-ish term focus because it does mean the bits I’ve neglected get the attention they need and should have had months ago.  It is easy to think there is plenty of time to sort something out, all the while it is getting worse and worse – weeds have a funny way of growing enormous if you let them.  Especially if you are gardening like a madman in the heat of the day.   I seem to have a clearer head in the mornings so it has always made sense to do the computer gardening first thing – meaning I would just end up dashing into the garden for as long as I could bear the heat.  Which is why I’m in the mess I am with my corners.

Trellis arch

I extended my trellis arch to accommodate some late comers – a new to me variety of Luffa – a Ridge Gourd and some Zucchetta Tromboncino. Hopefully there is enough time left in the season to see a result.

I’m sure the garden will be ship shape and perfect in good time for the visit, and then I will try my best to keep it that way through regular maintenance so I can focus this newfound project time on interesting things…  like Room Two in The Palace.  That inkling of an idea is growing into something more solid and I’m starting to get excited at the opportunity to create another amazing space.

Onions

The Pukekohe LongKeeper Onions have been sunning themselves and will soon be ready to hang up in the shed ready for use.

I think being just over two weeks into to this new year I can safely say things are going well and if we continue on this trajectory, in spite of the chaos and craziness going on around us, my garden will continue to grow and provide me with a sanctuary from it all.

Come again soon – there is plenty to be done.

Sarah the Gardener  : o)

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