Thought I'd check out with the staff what's happening in their gardens and share with our blog readers. A wee challenge was made to all the staff at the beginning of spring - try growing something you haven't grown before. Looks like we all took the challenge on:
My new challenge has been Florida Sweetcorn, which I planted quite late. I am amazed how much the plants grow each day and the cobs are now nearly ready. Such a shame my hubby is not fussed on corn on the cob but I'll be able to eat every single cob and enjoy every sweet bite.
My favourite runner varieties are producing lots of Painted Lady and Sunset beans. The dogs are always underfoot when I'm picking them as they insist on having their share of fresh beans too. And there's still plenty to share with the neighbours. For the first time, I have actually managed to pick everyday so that the over-sized beans are few.
I have some Skyscraper sunflowers reaching to the sky and I aim to get the seeds long before the birds do this season.
I have several varieties of Basil tucked amongst the corn and tomatoes. Cute little Greek Mini, trusty Sweet Genovese and Giant Genovese for lots of pesto. Not to mention several varieties of tomato - Matt's Wild Cherry, Diplom, Midnight and Chef's Choice Orange. My freezer will be full and I intend to try making home-made spaghetti like mum used to make when we were kids.
My biggest achievement this year was finally getting around to making a pallet garden. I started germinating the seeds for quite a few herbs early in the season and then made a simple version as a present for my friends who live on a small property with no vegetable garden. They love cooking with herbs and it was a great idea which has been very well-received.
Recently I had the guided tour of Gerard's garden which is a treat and always very interesting. He has lots of trial crops in and some of them take a couple of years to get established. The most prolific this year are the passionfruit varieties and as this is one of my faves, I have volunteered to be chief taster. He is also trying quite a few thornless berry varieties and the boysenberries were extra sweet and delicious. Chester (the dog) has discovered the pleasures of berries too and is seen grazing in the vines on a regular basis. Lucky his reach only goes so far.
The flower gardens are many and varied and filled with some of Gerard's favourites such as Tweedia (see picture at top of blog), Echinacea Lustre Hybrids and Agastache. He is growing quite a few varieties for harvesting seed when we have found them difficult to source. The Echinacea was putting on a very grand show of colour.
In contrast, there was a large mound of weeds growing where he is letting the soil rest this year. He has loaded it with lots of his home compost and is just letting it build up its strength and goodness ready for next year. He showed me how the colour of the soil is getting darker as it improves.
Jude has been trying a few new varieties. Firstly, Artichokes (inter-planted with red lettuce and it looks great) but still a long way to go. The next new one is Luffa (loofah) which she has run up a trellis and at this stage they look like large cucumbers.
Zucchini Rampicante - aptly named and running rampant. She has 4 plants but will have to trim this back to one if they keep growing the way they are.
Watermelon Golden Midget as she really enjoyed the Crimson Sweet last year but found them too big for two. She is hoping they won't take as long to grow due to their smaller size.
A tasty Black Oxheart tomato along with other tomatoes, including the new one Matt's Wild Cherry which is becoming a favourite. Unfortunately, the local feathered friends have dealt to the plums, raspberries, strawberries and blueberries so it's definitely time to build a berry house for next year's crop.
Jude is known as a big fan of Bean Xera Select which she is happy to say has not let her down, producing plenty of lovely straight dark green beans that just keep on keeping on.
Being a big smoothie drinker, Camilla always has lots of leafy greens in her garden. She has just taken out all her kale which has seen better days, to make room for the cucumbers which have been plentiful. She planted several varieties of tomatoes and they are showing lots of fruit.
For the first time, she has grown fennel and is enjoying roasting it in the oven or giving it a quick fry up in the pan.
She has planted some Echinacea Purple Coneflower in the herb garden, and has seedlings growing in her new seedling prop house of Pak Choi, Spinach and Echinacea.
Having two vege gardens keeps Deb busy at home and at the holiday house. She has just harvested her garlic and is putting the nice large bulbs down to extra sheep pellets and compost.
Her new challenge was to grow fennel too and she has been enjoying these in salads and sauteed with garlic and red onion on fish (usually trout, freshly caught in the Rotorua lakes). The tomato crop of beefsteak and cherry is going really well.
Deb is now another fan of Xera Select beans and has had a huge crop along with Zucchini Zephyr, her neighbours the lucky recipients of excess pickings.
Planting early, Liz has had a plentiful harvest of beans, capsicums, tomatoes, squash, leafy greens, etc. She is still harvesting yellow zucchini and waiting for her crop of Cabbage Spacesaver while on-going planting of more leafy greens keeps her rabbits fed and happy. She tells me their favourite is Kale Cavolo Nero - lucky bunnies.