The Holidays and Your Garden - How is it going?
You may be trying to get used to the idea of getting back to business, after the great New Zealand Christmas and New Year wind-down/shutdown. That’s what I’m trying to do. We headed away on holiday all excited (and to be honest, with only a very slight backwards glance at the garden). All the seedlings that were big enough had been planted out in their garden beds. Those that were still too small were sitting nicely in big tubs filled with a few inches of water, so that they wouldn’t dry out. All the container plants had been shifted into range of the automatic watering system and the timer was set, and then we left it all for about 10 days.
When we got back, it was great to see how much everything had grown while we were away! The fruit trees were putting on lots of new growth. The corn was noticeably taller. The brassicas were all ready. There were strawberries everywhere (because we planted them everywhere), and the first wave of lettuces were starting to show signs of reaching for the sky. The whole front garden was a riot of colour, as it is completely full of flowers - with violas, nasturtiums, a few last chives still in flower, aquilegias, Echinacea, cornflowers, calendulas, hollyhocks, foxgloves, and lots of giant dahlias. The lavender (which I grew from seed last year) is now in full bloom. It’s very pretty! All the herbs are flowering, and the bees love the flowers. I have a bee-sting to prove it! In the armpit!
Of course once you return from holiday there is work to do in the garden. Usually for two reasons:
- Because you want to work in the garden. Because it is fun and relaxing and you want to look after your garden.
- Because you need to tidy up! Especially at this time of the year when the things that were a joy in spring are starting to get messy and you need to make room for the next wave of action!
So the front garden has had a major tidy up – I have been progressing cutting the chives back and they are all looking trim now and can now grow back and flourish. The violas that are looking a bit tired have been removed, but I’ve left lots of viola plants still in place – they are self-seeding so nicely). I’ve pulled out all the plants that I forgot to harvest before they went to seed – mostly radishes and beetroot, but also one ginormous carrot! Last year’s celery plants also went to seed and were terribly pretty for a while, but they have now been removed as well. There is still gone-to-seed coriander lolling around everywhere – I’m keeping them so I can harvest the seed! Once all of these giant plants came out I found lots of little treasures underneath – carnations, nasturtiums, and some baby poppy plants from some seed I sprinkled around in spring. This weekend I will frolic through the garden with my radish and beetroot seeds again and do some more sowing.
The front garden is a riot of colour and seeming disorder, but the back garden is the opposite – lots of straight lines and organised garden beds. In the back garden, we have one bed which is mostly planted with potatoes. We are not sure how they are going – they didn’t flower at all this year and some fossicking around under the roots of one of the plants didn’t look promising, so I hope there are some potatoes down there somewhere. There are also onions and carrots in one corner of that bed.
The other bed is divided into quarters. One section is planted with a block of sweetcorn. Another is full of brassicas which we are harvesting at present. I don’t think we’ll sow any more until autumn, so we don’t have to fight off the white butterflies when they turn up. Another section has a few beans, a row of Florence fennel, a row of red onions and a row of parsnips. The final quarter was originally planted with brassicas and underplanted with lettuces, but they are all finished now and we have replanted that section with sweet pepper seedlings, and leeks. I’m going to sow some rows of carrots in between the peppers as well, since there is room for them.
We have managed to find space for about 14 varieties of tomatoes, and have just yesterday picked our first tomato of the season. And our first ever decent harvest of garlic is hanging to dry in the garage.
We also have an oversupply of zucchini. Again.
Jobs for the coming weekend are:
Sowing some carrots in between the rows of peppers.
Sowing some more lettuces so we don’t run out.
Sneaking radishes and beetroot seeds into the front garden.
Making more sauerkraut with all the cabbages.
Check the sunflowers every few hours as they are going to flower soon and I don't want to miss a moment of it!
How have you and your garden survived the summer break so far? What worked for you when you had to leave your garden? And for those of you who didn't go away, what have you been working on in the garden? And what are you planning to do next? We'd love to hear how you are getting on - leave us some comments and share your good ideas!
Linda Parker says ...
Summer break? What summer? I live in Levin and for January I think we experienced a whole two days of sunshine. Hence my two and a half acres of paradise is slowly rotting away with the wet, the vege garden is simply sitting. I'm still waiting for my first cucumber and zucchinis that usually you can't give away, well, each day I go out and I think that one may be ripe for picking in a day or two. And now we are into the second day of February and it is raining, again. I've been waiting for the weather to warm up since beginning of January so that I could try my second sowing of sunflower seeds. The first lot in December did not come up, probably because of the cold and rain. Anyway, on Saturday we are flying up to Whangarei. Hopefully it will be warmer, drier and we will see some gardens actually reminding us of the abundance of summer.