I can’t believe it’s already March. Apparently it's autumn, although the hot weather continues and watering the garden is still the most important thing we are doing to keep everything growing well. Apologies in advance if this blog post sounds a little overexcited. It’s hard not to be excited when you are in the midst of your first summer with a productive garden since 2013! If any of you are getting a little weary of all the tidying up work that starts to be required at this time of year, just imagine if it didn’t need to be done. Oh, but that would mean having no garden! For those of us who just love being able to pick flowers, fruit, herbs and vegetables from our own gardens, it’s worth remembering how much we love having somewhere to grow things! No matter whether you have just a few microgreens or other plants in pots, or acres of garden, having somewhere to garden is so good for us. Aren’t we lucky? I wandered around the garden this morning and took some photos to show you what is happening at the moment.
We did get started rather late in the season with parts of our garden. The garden beds in our back yard were only built during the week before Christmas. That has its drawbacks but also its benefits. We’ve had to wait a little longer for some of our harvests, but we are now just beginning to get zucchini and our corn harvest is just about ready as well. Late but still really welcome, and the weather is continuing to be warm.
Our front garden is still producing lots of food and is still attracting a lot of attention from passers-by. I’ve had a lot of gardening conversations over the front fence with people when working in the garden. One person who came in for a chat was a local character, Mark, who has done something admirable in our local Turangi community. He is developing a home garden in order to have fresh, organic food to feed his family, but in the process he is also reaching out to other people and giving something to others. He grows from seed in large batches, and has created a Plant it Forward project, offering his spare seedlings (hundreds of them) to other local people via a special Facebook page. This means others in the community with little money, resources and/or knowledge can try their hand at gardening, receiving free seedlings (and support and advice) at regular intervals. Mark uses Kings Seeds seeds for his project and reports that his children are doing better at school since his project to feed them good healthy home-grown food began. How cool is that! Keep up the good work, Mark!
Most of the work in the garden lately has been dead-heading, removing spent plants, and trying to keep the white butterflies off the brassicas. The butterflies are everywhere, in quantity! You can probably see eggs and caterpillars on any of the brassica photos I've included in this post. The exception seems to be the Pak Choi - the butterflies are leaving them completely alone!
I’ve covered my row of Winter Sprouting Broccoli with netting, because I am really keen for those plants to do well, but the butterflies still sometimes get under the netting. I read that we are having a record year for white butterflies and it certainly seems that way. I have a friend who is trying out the theory that putting home-made white butterflies in your garden will prevent the real ones coming in. I don’t know if it has proven successful so far but if it works, that will be my next project. Luckily, most of my brassicas are big enough now to withstand the onslaught. I’m onto my third container of derris dust and am getting sick of paying for it.
We planted a silk tree on the back lawn in the hope that it will eventually provide shade and somewhere to hang a hammock. That involved moving the clothesline over, leaving a rather pointless path to nowhere. So this month has seen the path removed, which is an improvement.
Most of our harvesting is going straight from the garden to the table, but I've done some low-key preserving.....I've been picking the nasturtium pods lately and after three days on the kitchen bench to ferment, have preserved them in jars for the cupboard. If you haven't tried doing this, here is a link to my recipe, which I've posted before. Once the nasturtium pods are pickled, they make great additions to pasta sauces, stews, or salads and they make cute gifts too. Just add a pretty label.
Our first delphinium has just flowered and is looking so pretty. It is planted, along with all the hollyhocks, where the pond is eventually going, so these pretty perennials will need to be carefully moved to a new site as I want to see them in the garden again next year!
We have had a steady supply of leafy greens throughout the summer - the cavolo nero still attracts the most attention in the garden.
We made kale chips, or Krispy Kale last night (here is a link to the recipe from a previous blog post). We found that the curly kale made nicer kale chips than the cavolo nero. The bunnies are enjoying munching on the kale as well....
Another pretty flower which I have been looking forward to is the Apple Blossom Rosebud pelargonium - it is just starting to flower.
I am such a sucker for a story and I love the story that goes with this pretty plant. This variety was introduced in 1870, and with its pretty rosebud-like flowers it has been a favourite ever since (even being Queen Victoria's favourite, so the story goes). The Apple Blossom Rosebud even made it through the World Wars when a lot of other varieties were lost as greenhouses were turned over to food production. The flowers resemble tiny rosebuds in delicate shades of white, green and pink. My poor plant arrived in a very sorry state as a cutting but has recovered well and is now flowering. I'm so excited!
There is plenty to look forward to in our garden. The next project will be building some proper compost bins. In case you think the garden is all pretty and under control, I have included a photo of our current compost arrangements - functional but far from pretty and so when the corn has been harvested, we'll be building proper compost bins in that spot. Perhaps with chickens.....?
So here's to a good autumn and winter for gardeners.....