SARAH THE GARDENER

Well that was a tad disappointing

Thursday in the garden, according to the schedule is the small beds and containers around the dome.  Technically it should include the dome itself and anything in it that needs a bit of love but today I had something else in mind instead of doing the dome.

Kumara in pots

There is something suspicious going on here….  My hopes were high

The first thing I got onto was something I’d been curious about for a while now.  My kumara containers had by pushed askew by some unknown force, presumably a big fat sweet potato or two, that may have escaped the container and continued to grow in the ground.  The anticipation was intense.  A sign they are ready to dig up is yellowing leaves, and a thorough inspection found a few leaves were yellow and that was enough for me.  Besides today is the day for containers so who am I to argue with the schedule.

Kumara

The kumara at the back are the compliant stay in the pot ones, the ones in the front are the rebellious escapees. I may need to rethink things for next season.

I chopped off all the foliage and then carefully and expectantly removed the soil from the pot and found that within the confines of the container was nothing but kumara noodles.  Long skinny sweet potatoes that could be cooked as is and fit well within the definition of chips!  This is no surprise; it is pretty much the best I’ve ever done.   But there was still the mystery of the askew pots…  something must be causing it.  So, I took my garden fork and starting wide so as not to mistakenly skewer a possible bounty, I dug up the sand beneath the container.   And I dug and dug and dug and finally found 5 kumara of I size I’d never grown before!  They aren’t huge but good enough for me!

Frog

This little fella watched the entire kumara unveiling, before hopping off to hang out with my other pots.

The small beds in the Thursday zone really didn’t need much help.  The Jerusalem artichoke bed is empty because they didn’t come up in the spring and the yams are almost done.  (I’ve never had much luck with these but will continue to try.) These 1 x 1 metre beds are exclusive for these crops because you can dig them up as much as you want, but they will never be completely gone, so it makes sense to give them a permanent home.  The globe artichokes and rhubarb are long term crops, so it makes sense to give them their own space too!  The nursery bed is in control and the wild flower garden only just finished being filled. So aside from feeding the still flourishing and watering the lot, I didn’t really have much to do.

Feijoa trees

I hope the feijoa trees will be happier now they have been repotted.

I looked at my feijoa trees as they are in the container area and they felt dry again, so I took them out of their pots and found they were a little root bound.  I couldn’t leave them like it, so I teased out the roots and repotted them into larger pots.  I’ll let them settle down and let the roots find themselves before planting out in the ground.

Saffron

My saffron has not only survived, but increased. Once these babies start flowering I’ll be rich!

Before heading inside, I noticed a big fat bumblebee dancing around my broad bean patch, and I felt confident that my beans flowers were being pollinated.  But something in the back of my mind niggled at me so I looked it up.  Bumblebees have short tongues and can’t get into the broad bean flowers to access the nectar in the usual way so poke holes in the base of the flowers.  So, no there won’t be bumblebee beans anytime soon…

bumblebee in broadbeans

If you look closely you can see the holes in the base of all the flowers

Then I came inside to deal with something that was becoming a problem.  My red onions were starting to go soft and I’d been meaning to do something with them for ages.  The whole Make May Count was just the push I needed and turned half of them into a delish red onion marmalade.  I needed to slowly caramelise the onions and then with a few herbs and spiced chucked and some red and balsamic vinegars, the whole lot was reduced to a lovely jam like consistency.  I started with a lot of onion and in anticipation sterilised 6 jars.  However, the reduction process was quite thorough, and I ended up with only three jars, three very awesome jars of deliciousness.

bumblebee in broadbeans

If you look even closer you can see him in the act of piercing a flower, cheeky monkey!

So I may not have got as many kumara as I would have liked or as many jars of onion marmalade, and the bumblebees have been wrecking my broad beans, I’m still happy because I still have a personal best for the kumara, a limited amount of marmalade is better than none and I don’t actually like broad beans so I’m not bothered.

Red Onion Marmalade

Three very delicious jars of red onion marmalade!

Come again soon – tomorrow is the fruit section in the attempt to Make May Count.

Sarah the Gardener  : o)

Sleepy Gardening

I didn’t sleep well last night.  I woke for no reason at all at 3am and didn’t see the inside of my eyelids again for another hour and a half, and not for lack of trying either.  So, I had to try even harder to Make May Count today.  It would have been so easy to just rest this one out, but no, it’s Wednesday and Row Three was waiting.

Asparagus fronds

The asparagus fronds are beginning to take on a yellow tinge.

Fortunately, row three is an easy row.  The first bed has asparagus in it, and it has been weeded within an inch of its life for months and so it there isn’t much going on there in the way of interlopers.  The asparagus themselves are starting to fade and it won’t be long before they turn yellow and I can cut them down and add goodies to the top of the soil.  All the asparagus bed needed was some watering.  It doesn’t make sense to feed it as it dies out.

Celery

The celery is perking up, hopefully it will come to something worth harvesting.

The next bed is pretty much empty bar a few painted mountain corn stalks that are still a shade of fresh green, so there was no point doing anything there, there wasn’t even any weeds.  I must be doing something right.  The next bed is the garlic which is still popping up causing much excitement – for me.  No one else seems that interested!

Lima beans

I do wish these Lima beans would get a hurry on… it’ll get cold soon.

The leafy green bed is thriving and will provide plenty of winter crunch.  Having said that the Asian greens are almost ready and so I’m trying to decide if I should sow more or not.  There is time and there is space.  At the other end, the celery and celeriac have picked up and look like they much prefer the cooler weather!

carrots

My carrot succession planting looks good so far. I’ll pop in another row soon enough.

Next door to those is the beans.  There are a few straggling kidney beans on their second round, but the lima beans and the snake beans at each end are still going strong.   I’ll just leave them too it and see what happens.  I have no idea what that will be.  Hopefully it will end in a large harvest of giant white lima beans, dried on the plant and ready to chuck in casseroles.  I know for sure I’ll be starting them much early this season.  But there are no weeds in this bed either, so I just watered and fed them.

Before clearing Lupin

While Snowy the Goat has done a good job on the area on the right, I decided to give her a hand on the left side.

Beside that is the new carrot and root crop bed and once again it is in good shape.  So, I popped in a new row of beetroot and watered and fed the lot!

And the last bed has the last of the carrots and parsnips and a lingering bunch of fennel and nothing else.  I watered and fed these as well and looked for weeds.  I didn’t really find any there either.  Then finally a whip around the paths with the hoe and I was done in no time at all.   But as I promised myself yesterday to do something else so I can feel like I’m moving ahead, not just staying in control in the same spot.

After clearing lupin

After working with Snowy we got it all chopped down, although I have to say working with an enthusiastically helpful goat, those large horns are rather scary!

I looked about and decided to give the goat a hand.  We’d put her down in the garden – brave move but her stake is secure and everything else is tight.  She had a job to do to clear the vegetation from the area on the other side of the path to get things ready for the next huge project that all going well will start next week.

Wasps

I didn’t fancy taking a break on the swing seat today… those wasps are really becoming annoying!

After just under an hour I’d chopped down a mountain of lupin and revealed a mountain of boards and off cuts and other building debris that will also need clearing out.  But the wasps came out and that was my sign to go in.  It was still before lunch and I was just happy to have achieved something at all in my sleep deprived state and grateful the effort required wasn’t that great.

Come again soon – even when sleepy I can still Make May Count.

Sarah the Gardener  : o)

Peanutty

I’m really beginning to get my groove back and working in the garden is so energising.  I have switched things around – normally I’d get on with the indoor work before rewarding myself by heading outdoors.  But often I’d be so bogged down by the indoor stuff I’d barely get out the door to work on the garden, and then I’d convince myself there wasn’t enough time left in the day to really do much so I’d give the garden a spot of lip service and wonder why I wasn’t feeling the love.

Autumn raspberries

I have to confess, I’ve been snacking on autumn raspberries and not sharing! There aren’t many as the plants went in late and the house is so far away from the raspberry patch…. and they are so sweet and so good. I look forward to an abundance next season.

This week I have been heading out there first and then doing my commitments indoors in the arvo, when the wasps come out.  They are still hanging out in the garden in large numbers, but I have found we get on just fine.  So long as I don’t bother them, they don’t bother me.  Although I do worry about the wood they are stealing, over time this could be huge.

Leeks

I’d say these leeks are almost ready for eating – if you like a tender young thing!

So today I took care of the needs of the Tuesday row.  At first appearance there wasn’t much going on, but looks are deceiving and I was pottering about in the garden until well after two pm.  The half leek half wheat bed didn’t need much, just a quick weed and feed and my lonely bedraggled zucchini is still alive and has some baby zukes that will hopefully reach a size worth eating.

Peanut harvest

I’m quite impressed with this peanut harvest. Although I’ve probably eaten this much in a single sitting as a dried roasted version, involuntarily while watching a movie!

The odds and sods bed was fun because the peanuts must have reached their overnight low temperature that is acceptable to them as their leaves had started to go brown.  It wasn’t a frost as everyone else is still ok.  But that meant I could dig them up.  I love digging up peanuts, it is really exciting because you don’t know what you will get.  By the looks of my haul, they like growing here. Hooray!

The melon bed got a makeover – I finally took down the netting and put it away for next time.  It is a bit of a phaff fiddling about with all the knots, but I will thank myself for it next season when I have to get it out again.  I then gave the bed a bit of a tickle, consulted the plan and sowed lupin seeds as a cover crop to add nitrogen rich organic material in preparation for the sweetcorn that will be hanging out in the bed next season.

Lupin seeds for cover crop

These inert looking lupin seeds have been unleashed upon the empty bed and will bring about an abundance of green manure! Grow little seeds, grow.

The other beds, with salad, the broad beans that are supposed to be cover crops but started flowering so may just be an unexpected harvest of beans, and the peppers just needed a handful of tiny weeds removed and then a good water and a quick feed and the row is looking dapper. I also hoed around the beds in the row and there is something calming about this act.  You get to slowly contemplate the plants in the beds beside the paths and think about the garden as a whole.  I do enjoy this seemingly mind numbingly boring chore.

Spuds in pots

If I remember correctly these are 14 Litre pots and I have probably squished in too many spuds but they are little and I’m not made of pots!

The last job of the day was to pop the spuds into pots.  I’ll keep them in the dome over the cold of the winter so we can have fresh spuds sooner rather than later.  Oh, and while we are talking about waiting for things – the first signs of garlic have popped up!  Yay!

Garlic sprout

Be still my beating heart – the very first crops for the 2019 – 2020 growing season have made their entrance!

Tomorrow it is the turn of row three – the Wednesday row and I should think about some other little project to go with it so I’m not just treading water in the same spot but making headway.  And speaking of water I really should check the weather forecast, it has been suspiciously nice for too long, surely there is rain on the horizon?

Come again soon – I’m loving my Make May Count idea; it is really motivating.

Sarah the Gardener  : o)

Pea wrangling

In an effort to Make May Count, and not have it disappear out from under me in a blur of lethargy and can’t be botheredness…  I am pushing myself to get out there and do things.  Any things.  Chores that are long overdue and exciting things that I have yet to come up with but will bring joy as I do them.  It is hard at this time of year stay focused in the garden.  The weather is getting cooler, the sun is getting weaker and it just doesn’t compare with spring.

Watering the beds

It is definitely autumnal weather – but without rain. My new garlic needs moisture.

In spring the expression “ask a busy person” is perfect.  A busy person is much more likely to squeeze in one more task, just to get it done, whereas the opposite in autumn is more likely to procrastinate.  ‘I’ll just check out one more cool gardening video before heading out to do that job…’  In spring there is no time to lurk and linger on the great big internet, the entire season is counting on jobs being done right now.  In autumn there is no urgency, and it is cold outside, well it’s getting that way.

Garden beds

Row one – the Monday row is sorted, weeded, watered, feed and wrangled where necessary.

But I’m a hardy sort and anything I do now will make a difference not only to the current season but too the entire growing year.  This is no time to sit around, waiting for things to happen, I need to get out there and make them happen!   I won’t regret putting in the effort and in light of this decision, today I have:

Taken care of the needs of the Monday row.  I weeded, watered and feed the plants that were still growing there and hoed the paths around the beds to keep the tiny weeny seedlings from becoming giant weeds in the way.

Pea wrangling

The peas are safely tucked away, should the wind kick up a some point in the life of these peas.

As a part of the Monday row maintenance, I wrangled my peas.  I love to grow alderman tall, because the peas within the long pods are so sweet, even when they’ve gone that tiny bit too far.  The problem is in their name – they are ‘tall’.  And the wind here can whip them about, when it gets up.  Then I remembered something I did once at the last place that seemed to work well – although I should have done it earlier to keep them in control. What I did was get some garden string and tied one end to the end of the netting and the other to a short-ish bamboo pole and weaved the string in and out of the pea row, gently pulling wayward plants back in tight against the netting.  This should not only prevent them from lolling about the place but also if the wind gets up, then they are hugged tight and shouldn’t come to harm.

Sweet Pea seed

The beginning of a long journey, but sometime in the future things will be beautiful and fragrant. Gotta love sweet peas.

I also sowed some sweet peas.  A little bit later than I would have liked, but I’ve been procrastinating, much to my shame.  I have just the right place to plant them out when the time is right – they will look fabulous growing up against the chicken coup at the end of the garden.  It will look amazing.

And I gave my new feijoa plants a deep drink in a bucket of water as their pots felt very light.  I will still need to plant them out, and all going well this should happen while I’m still Making May Count.

Watering dry pots

These pots were a little on the dry side so a long soak in a bucket of water brought them back to how they should be.

Then it was inside to cross inside jobs off the list, as like the garden there are things that need desperately doing indoors too!

I’m feeling amped, pumped and excited.  Well that is what I’m telling myself to feel!  I would really like to curl up with a good book or a good movie, but it is Monday and on Mondays work gets done!

Come again soon – I’m off to a good start

Sarah the Gardener  : o)

Make May Count

After all the effort to get the garden ready for the garden party, I’ve kind of just rested on my laurels and I haven’t actually done a lot in the garden since.  Well not on the scale of the work I did before the party.  I have done a few things – like a little bit of path hoeing, which is actually kind of fun and easy to run the hoe across the path to keep it weed free, and after the effort of removing the encroaching weeds from the path as part of the pre-party prep, it makes sense to keep on top of them, as there were thousands of tiny weeny seedlings raising their heads in the middle of my path after the last rain.

Weed free path

Now the path is weed free, keeping it that way isn’t difficult at all, just a little bit every day.

I’ve also planted out my garlic, nice and early in the hopes to avoid the dreaded garlic rust and I’ve sown my onion seeds so, all going well, they will be ready to be planted out on the shortest day in just over 6 weeks.

Garlic bed

Soon this bed will be dotted with little green tips as the garlic emerges from the soil. I have been checking often for signs of life.

I do love how the seasons arrange themselves in the winter, the autumn isn’t really that bad, and eases us slowly into the cool of winter, but once we get into winter, the shortest day is only 3 weeks later, so while each day is getting shorter and shorter, the weather isn’t so intolerable that it is noticeably annoying.  Then before we’ve even got a chance to get used to winter, the sun turns around in the sky and the lengthening process begins.  So even when the weather turns bleak, cold and very miserable, it is ok because there is a silver lining in that each day is slightly longer and is bringing us closer to the spring and the much nicer and more desirable weather.   Having said that the reverse is true in summer and I’m not all that happy that summer days begin to end before they have even started.

seed trays

It does feel good to be looking after potential green things again.

But the thought that the shortest day is close-ish and combined with the fact I really haven’t done much since the party I had a bit of a wake up call.  It is almost a whole week into the 5th month of the year, and not wanting to shorten life anymore than it does on its own, that is almost halfway through the year!  I could easily see myself continuing in this pattern of drift without really achieving much.  But that would be such a waste, so I have decided to Make May Count and hope to be able to tick of achievements at the end like a role call of cool gardening related things.   There are so many things I’ve been putting off and I just want to get them done now.

Seed Potatoes

I really need to pop these spuds into containers. I couldn’t help myself when I saw them in the garden centre. Summer delight is a great variety when growing out of season spuds in the dome in the middle of winter! Although note to self: when buy spuds for containers, feel the bag to get bigger potatoes so you need less containers….

Starting tomorrow.  Some things will be big! And others will be so small I have even debated with myself as to whether they should be on the list at all… But everything counts and a small step is still a step in the right direction.

Cinderella Pumpkin

OK… starting today…. In spite of its lack of flavour, I have decided to chop up the Cinderella Pumpkin into meal sized portions and freeze them so they can fill out meals and in doing so fill out hungry teenage boys. They won’t even know its there! Waste not want not and all that. And now it no longer sits on the kitchen bench taunting me.

Come again soon – there will be plenty of gardening action….

Sarah the Gardener : o)

Not all that glitters is gold

I’ve been a round the gardening block for ages, and I’ve learnt things.  Many things.  But still I fall into traps, make mistakes and don’t follow my own advice.  One of the things I say often to many people – ‘if you don’t like it don’t grow it!’  That is why I have a large bed of kidney beans for yummy and delicious winter chilli con carne and zingy nachos, not a bed full of yucky (*disclaimer – my opinion only) runner beans.  I did grow them in my first year, because what is a garden without beans?  Then I grew them in the second year because the bamboo pole structure is really cool and I enjoyed building it.  But then I realised my folly and filled the bed with dwarf French green beans, because maybe I’d like those better (I didn’t) but also my bamboo pole structure kept falling down.  It just wasn’t meant to be.  Although I have recently discovered the Joeyosaurus actually likes beans, so I have been denying him the pleasure for most of his life.  Next season I need to put some Joey beans in.

Cinderella Pumpkin Rouge vif d'etampes

The potential for fabulousness is high in this Cinderella Pumpkin, Rouge vif d’etampes

I also grow broad beans.  It is no secret that I don’t like broad beans,  but not a lot grows in winter and so it gives me purpose.  Look at me – gardening in the winter!  Besides I’d heard somewhere that it takes 21 attempts to like something (or was that doing something 21 times before it became a habit) either way, by my calculations broad beans have another 9 years to worm their way into my affections…

Bean poles.

There was always such joy and excitement making a bean pole structure… shame I’ve never worked out for us, it could have been beautiful…

I tell people (lessons mostly learnt through my mistakes) label everything so you know what you have.  I’m pretty good at this now, but occasionally the label will fade or disappear completely and I have no idea what I’m growing and become pleasantly surprised when something exciting pops up and it is like recognising an old friend you haven’t seen in ages!  Such a delight.

Kidney beans

Dried beans are a great staple in our winter diet. Although I’m not that great at planning ahead, so I soak the lot and then vacuum pack and freeze them in meal sized portions. So when the time comes all I need to do is boil a few beans.

I also tell people, take notes – if you try something for the first season, and you didn’t like it, write it down so you remember not to grow it again.  Once again I ignored this advice with Indigo Rose Tomatoes.  They looked so promising with their little deep purple skins, only to be disappointed by their flavour.  The next season I picked up the packet – still in my collection, ummed and erred and grew them again, because ‘they’d look nice in a salad’.  Just because you still have the seed packet you are not obliged to grow them again…  give it away to someone else, they might enjoy the bland flavour these go nowhere tomatoes offer up.  I still feel the disappointment on my tongue to this day.

Indigo Rose Tomatoes

Look at that colour…. these tomatoes are supposed to be good because they look so cool… such a disappointment.

Another thing I tell people is find out as much as you can about the plant before you buy or grow it, so you have all the information they need to grow to their very best in your garden.  It is a great way to occupy your time in the bleak winter months when you can’t or don’t want to garden in bad weather.   But I am going to add to this advice something very important and something I fell victim too this season.  I chased the shiny and the exciting with no research at all.   Everyone who was anyone was growing it so who was I to do anything other than take it at face value.

I grew a Cinderella Pumpkin, or its official and rather posh name Rouge Vif D’Etampes.  Not only did it look cool, everyone was saying it was fabulous.  I trusted something I saw on the internet.  I should have known better.   This is where is gets controversial, so please no scathing comments in the box below.

Crown Pumpkins, Butternut and Buttercup

Butternut, Crown Pumpkin and Buttercup. They may be boring but they are reliable and actually taste good – how a pumpkin should.

But us kiwis do pumpkin well!  We use it roasted, steamed, mashed, in soups, in salads and even in muffins.  Pumpkins are a staple veggie and more often than not found as one of the 3 veggies in the traditional ‘meat and 3 veg.’  We certainly don’t froo froo it up with spices and pretend it is a dessert.  It is a hearty veg and should be starchy and full of goodness.  Our standard favourites are Crown Pumpkins, Butternut and Buttercup which all offer the requisite amount of flavour, body and texture.

So with great anticipation, although a little premature, as I wanted this pumpkin to be a decorative element for as long as possible because it just looked so cool!  But Snowy the Goat took had a munch on her most recent escapade through the garden so I just knew it wouldn’t keep.  I cut it open and popped some chunks into the oven to roast.

Goat damage Cinderella Pumpkin Rouge vif d'etampes

It didn’t take long for the mould to set into the goat bites, there was no choice but to eat it.

I’ve never been more disappointed…  well maybe it is up there with the Indigo Rose, but it didn’t roast well, and it was not robust in pumpkin flavour and was thin and watery for want of a better description.  It didn’t caramelise up like a good crown would…  it left me wanting…  So I looked it up on the great big internet – I bypassed anyone describing it with a vested interest and when straight to message boards where I found people saying it would be good for soup because it was because it was watery!  But just because it tastes like liquid doesn’t necessarily mean it will make great soup.  The flavour just doesn’t deliver and I like a robust soup with an almost velvet texture.  This would give a cheap polyester texture.

Cinderella Pumpkin Rouge vif d'etampes

The flesh is thick and the potential for deliciousness is still high

And to make matters worse – it is a big pumpkin and I have 2 of them to get through….  Maybe the goat can have it.

So the lesson for the day is, not only find out how something grows, try to find out how it tastes.  Even if it is the latest hot thing on the block.  As my mother used to say “if everyone was jumping of a bridge would you do it too?

Come again soon – there is only a month left of autumn until we are plunged in the depths of winter.

Sarah the Gardener  : o)

Party time

I love a good party as much as the next person, but when you are the host, there is a lot of work behind the scenes that needs to happen to make sure the event runs smoothly.  If you get it right, your guests wouldn’t have the slightest inkling you had done anything other than put out a few extra cups and hung up some bunting.

Geodesic biodome

The dome has been tidied and arranged in a temporary layout.

So when I noticed Garden to Table, the great program that gets kids in schools not only growing food, but eating it too, was having a garden party fundraiser, I thought why not.  I like a party, and even better a tea party, and even better than that a garden party, so I put my hand up to host an event in my garden.  I could also show off my newly glazed dome and besides, I’m all about getting kids to garden – I wrote a BOOK about it!

Brassica

New plants were popped in, in gaps beside the older plants

I checked out the details on the website and decided the best date would be the latest possible on the calendar – so I’d have time to prepare.  I gave myself a month, that should be plenty of time to get things sorted.  But what I hadn’t factored in was an extended period of holiday smack bang in the middle of my plans.  Not only did I have the distraction of Easter and ANZAC days, which are both occasions that require due respect and acknowledgement, there was also the school holidays in which also needed family time so teen screen time was suitably restricted.  It is just as well I’d chosen the late date.

Compost bin

A full compost bin makes for a happy but exhausted gardener

The good thing was the weather was on my side and I threw myself into getting the garden party ready.  There had been some neglect due to the whole wisdom tooth / holiday business, but probably no one would have noticed but me.  But pride was at stake.  I love showing off my garden and am proud of all I have achieved.  I wanted it looking its very best.  I evicted every weed I could find, I removed long finished crops that should have been taken out weeks ago, I transplanted new seedlings into bare beds.  I even sowed cover crop seeds that I could only tell people about as they had yet to show their faces…  but I knew they were there.  I sharpened the edges of the paths and cleared the fence line of the dreaded kikuyu attempting to enter the garden.  I swept out the dome and rearranged everything that had been dumped in there knowing it would be sorted at a later date.

Tidy garden

There is nothing better after a week of hard slog to stand back and know there is nothing more than needs to be done!

I worked hard and returned to the house each night weary but happy knowing I was on track.  To be fair, my system of doing one group of beds on a Monday and then the next group on a Tuesday and so on had paid off as there was only the shadow of work to be done than if I was using the ‘weed the weediest first’ system.  Experience has taught me you never get on top of that one in a large garden – you just chase your tail from one nightmare to another.  I also had the good fortune of gorgeous autumnal days where the sky was blue with just enough warmth in the sun to feel comfortable without overheating with the effort of hard work.   Besides all that effort was for a good cause.

Paarking

The cars were carefully arranged on the back lawn. We really need a better plan for parking in the future.

I put out the call “who wants to come and see my garden and help kids grow food?”  It was an exclusive party with limited numbers, because of the parking situation.  I would have welcomed more but there just wasn’t the room.  I have dreams on day for space for bus parking.  That isn’t too ambitious is it?

Baking

I’m not much of a baker but I am quite pleased with this spread. (Except the feijoa muffins – I may have mixed up the baking soda and the baking powder – no one complained though)

When not in the garden I set about baking all manner of cakes and treats.  We had feijoa muffins, beetroot muffins, chocolate zucchini bread, dehydrated marrow chips that had been marinated in onions, garlic and lemon.  I made a dip from peppers and chilli with cream cheese and there was zucchini relish to go with the cheese and crackers.  There was also a platter of fresh watermelon and Honeydew melon, freshly harvested.  All of the vegetables had come from the garden.  Good friends were to help me lay the table and hang up the bunting.  After a week of wonderful weather I took a deep breath and looked around.  I was ready. The garden was ready.  The party was ready.

Garden Party

New friends and old friends came together to enjoy the party.

The day of the party dawned, and it was raining – a lot.  Normally I’d celebrate rain, to fill the tank and water the garden.  But not today.  It couldn’t rain on my party.  But with the faith that it would be alright I did my final preparation without a plan B.  There was no cancelling this party come rain or shine.  And as people arrived the weather swung in my favour, the rain clouds receded, the sun came out and we sipped tea, nibbled on cake and I was able to share my garden to the loveliest group of people and raised some money so some kids could grow food.  It couldn’t have been more perfect.

Thank you to everyone who came along.

Come again soon – there is still more to put in and take out of the garden, but there’s no hurry.

Sarah the Gardener  : o)

Change of plans… again

But that is the beauty of the garden – it is completely forgiving.  Plans can be made, but nothing is set in concrete – except the things actually set in concrete like fence posts!  Over the last year I have spent ages pouring over my plans, making adjustments, then working on the crop rotation and then hoping to never have to plan again.  It can be a logistical nightmare and I get myself in a muddle and come to a great sense of relief once I can put the pen down and know my plans are sound.

Carrot seedlings

The new carrots are settling in, in the old potato bed

Except that isn’t always the case.  My garlic should be in this month and I’m running out of month.  But I have wrestled with their new location.  They are supposed to follow the carrots, parsnips, beetroot and fennel for reasons I have long forgotten.  The carrots follow the potatoes as it makes sense to have the nicely dug over soil, required to ensure every last spud is removed, to grow the carrots who like it nice and fluffy without lumps and bumps.  That is a logical reasoning.  And as there are no spuds currently being grown – well not in the beds – I picked up a bag of seed potatoes at the garden centre just because they were there and will grow them in pots over the winter…  The old spud bed is now nurturing juvenile carrot seedlings that reflect the more mature ones still lingering in the bed beside it, out staying their welcome as the garlic are ready to set up home in a spot not ready for them.

Parsnips

I can’t sacrifice my parsnips for the garlic when I haven’t even made a dent in the row? Parsnips you can stay. Garlic find somewhere else!

So I cast my eye over the row – what else could be done?  The bean bed beside the spuds on the other side still has beans lingering in it.  This was also completely unexpected as the snake beans are still going great guns and then at the other end of the bed, the Lima beans I picked up at a bulk food shop with the thought…  ‘hmmm….  I wonder…’ are still at the lush green foliage stage with a multitude of flowers and a few beans in the early bean stage.  If they are to dry on the plant, then they’d better get a wiggle on.  So I can’t give up on my beans.  Not yet.

Lima beans

The Lima beans are taking ages and are a long way from being a dried bean!

Beside that are the leafy greens, a mix of rainbow beet that will be there until the spring when they will begin to bolt and while this will remain the leafy green bed for some time, it also has some fledgling leafy greens to provide some winter goodness.  So that is not an option for the garlic.

Cucumber

The cucumber has made a great last effort but it is pretty much all over ….

The far side of the row is the asparagus and no one is leaving this bed, not for another 20 years or so.   That leaves me with a couple of options – I could put them back in the bed they just came out of, but the painted mountain corn is still being dried on the plant and while only a couple of weeks will do it, the garlic is getting urgent.  Besides its not good to have them in the same place as there are root rot related diseases that can build up.  And then when you think about the next season what is the knock on affect.  The cucumbers were supposed to go in there next.  But the garlic won’t be out of the garden in time for the cucumbers to be planted out – so there’d be a bottle neck.

Cucumber

…. or is it…. can one late season cucumber stand in the way of an entire crop of garlic???

So that leaves one possibility.  The cucumbers bed between the leafy greens and the old garlic bed should have come out ages ago, but the brave leaves put on a second flush and produced another couple of cucumbers.  Who was I to stand in their way?  But I think it is time to call ‘time’ on their efforts and take down the frame.  This would create an empty bed in the right window of time.   The cucumbers next season would move on to the old garlic bed as usual and next season will not get into a complex relationship with the carrots.  I’d have all winter to eat the carrots before transitioning them across to the new / old potato bed.  So it would work going forward.

Peppers

The peppers are loving their location way too much, but who am I to argue. The onion overflow will need to find alternative accommodation

But will the leafy greens wait for the garlic to come out…  I think they’ll just have to.  The spinach may have to maybe move to the salad bed in another row as it can bolt quickly especially in a hot dry spring which is a possibility.  But the rest can wait.  Garlic planted in autumn is harvested early anyway so it should work.

Zucchini

I think it is fair to say the zucchini are done…

Ok decision made.   And without explaining the similar problem I have with my onion overflow bed, I’ll just say after much pontificating, the zucchini are on their last legs and can come out and make room for red onions, shallots and leeks.  This also moves them back in their crop rotation one slot but if the peppers weren’t enjoying life so much it wouldn’t be necessary.

zucchini

… having said that… this plant still has signs of life

Hopefully this will allow for a smooth transition between the seasons and hopefully will be the last time I have to rejig my plans.

Come again soon – things are really cooling down, I’m back to wearing socks and a jumper!

Sarah the Gardener  : o)

Glazed Above

My greenhouse journey has been long and arduous, fraught with horrifying drama – mostly occurring as a shock to the bank balance!  To be honest I’m not sure how much it cost and really don’t want to know.  So after what seems like forever, the dome is done and I’m back in greenhouse business!  Having somewhere safe to grow my seedlings and over winter tender plants is even more appreciated after having gone a such a long time without a sanctuary for my green buddies.

Glazed Geodesic Biodome

The dome is an amazing centrepiece in the centre of my garden, I’m so glad I naively embarked on this journey, in spite of the cost!

This last stage was held up by two things, finding glass at a good price and then waiting for it to arrive on a slow boat from half a world away, but some things are worth waiting for.  And the other thing was the search for some brave glaziers who were willing to take up the challenge and do something a little bit out of the ordinary.  I am extremely grateful for the team at 15 Star Glass and Glazing Services.  They were so lovely and did and amazing job.

Geodesic Biodome being glazed

It wasn’t an easy job to glaze the dome, but the team were wonderful.

You can check out a time lapse video of the glass being added to the dome.  Stay watching until the end for a tiny bit of cuteness from Jasper the Dog and Fennel the Cat.  Also in the description below the video is a link to the dome being built,  if you are interested.

 

Come again soon – as we creep closer to winter the garden tasks are calling more urgently.

Sarah the Gardener  : o)

NB this isn’t a paid sponsored post for 15 Star Glass, I am just extremely grateful for the work they have done for me.  : o)

Raining there not here

Our water tank has a little red ball poking out of the top.  It should be on a long stick as the internal part is floating on the surface of the water letting us know just how much we have left.  But it seems to be constantly positioned on a short stick as we ride the rest of this season of little rain.  I crunched the numbers at the beginning of the month from my weather station.  In March we had a whopping 52mm of rain, of that 27mm fell in one day and 12mm fell in an hour, so you can see from that it has been a little dry here, with no real expectation of it changing in this mild autumn and so I’m holding out for winter rains to well and truly fill the tank.

Water tank

Ideally the little red ball should be standing tall, so I don’t need to think about every drop of water we use.

It might not seem like it is connected, but we went to visit the fabulous Ayrlie Gardens on the weekend.  I’ve been there before, you can check out that visit >HERE<.   But this time I went for a plant sale with a group of friends.   While it is great visiting gardens with Hubby the Un-Gardener who would much rather be at a boat show, to visit gardens with friends who actually like gardens is so much better.  We discussed the possibility of buying this plant for a corner of someone’s garden over the possibility of that.  We ummed and erred over the merits of one variety over another and even had a lively chat over which shade of bromeliad would go better – the pinky green or the greeny pink.  To a non-gardener the finer points of conversations like that would be lost.  But it wasn’t lost on me.  They went with the greeny pink.

Rain at Ayrlie Garden

Seeing this garden in the rain is just as amazing as seeing it on a sunny day.

But the interesting thing is the garden is situated on the opposite coast from us.  About an hour away on the East Coast.  As we drove across the country from our slightly cloudy but definitely dry place, the conditions deteriorated, and our garden visit was very soggy indeed.  It didn’t bother us in the slightest.  Rain is something to dance in, and what better place to do that but in a garden!

Water trough gardens

Now here is an idea… we have water troughs with no livestock… hmmm… water lilies would be lovely. I just need the lilies and the water!

I was quite restrained in my purchases, not saying there wasn’t the temptation, but I have learnt from experience, if there is no hole ready and waiting – plants die.  I did buy a French Tarragon as it was on my ‘keep a look out for’ list and I was delighted to finally find one.  More often that not I come across Russian Tarragon which grows easily from seed, but the superior French variety comes from cuttings.  So, I was happy.  Hubby the Un-Gardener did join our group of gardeners on this visit and developed a sudden interest in air plants – Tillandsia.  So, I suggested he start small with just a few and then if he doesn’t kill them….   I’m hoping this isn’t the beginning of an Un-Gardener encroachment.  But I only have myself to blame, I’ve been dragging him to gardens for ages so it only seems logical that something should stick at some stage.

French tarragon

Bienvenue. Welcome little French Tarragon, I have just the spot for you. We’ve been saving it for a while.

So, after a fun day out, we headed home, slightly soggy but grateful for a time spent in an inspiring garden with inspiring friends that help to enflame my garden passions leaving me in anticipation for the next time we get together in this way.   But on the drive home, the weather seemed to reverse itself and went from the almost torrential to showers, then to drizzle and dried to nothing at all.  We didn’t get a single drop at home and our little red ball was sitting exactly where we left it, minus the amount used for a load of laundry in the washing machine.

Come again soon – maybe we will get a spot of rain…

Sarah the Gardener  : o)

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