If you have been following Frog Pond Farm you may know that our property is undulating – ok hilly and that our raised veg beds were cleverly constructed on a north facing hillside built into the land, perfect for drainage, visually appealing and not too far from the house.
Truth is my back has been giving me a bit of grief lately and I’m not enjoying the hillside as much as I used to. It’s tough lugging buckets of produce or soil about, jumping on a broad fork or slipping on the slope after it has been raining (Auckland can rain!)
I’m not sure about you, but I’m one of those gardeners that wants to do everything at once and given my back this isn’t what one might call ‘sensible’. However, I have got a bit smarter as of late and can be seen from time to time actually kneeling on the ground while gardening and heaven forbid taking a particularly casual approach and sitting on my butt in the garden (flower bed mind you not the veg garden – that would never do).
It’s autumn in NZ my favourite season and I’m in the throes of hauling out spent plants and replenishing beds with organic materials. I’m digging holes and burying kitchen food scraps, adding a planting mix of topsoil and compost, worm castings and then topping off the lasagna mix with pea straw which is great tucker for those garden worms and protects the soil over winter.
Needless to say, I have my eye on seaweed at the beach, which I’m going to bag and bring home so that this can also be chopped up and buried in my veg gardens or thrown on top as mulch. I’m getting excited just thinking about it, I’m sure the slugs won’t be!
I swore last year that I wouldn’t grow seedlings anymore – as much as I enjoy the process, it is so time consuming. Anyway as it transpired I succumbed and found myself sitting on the concrete one day poking seeds into trays with gay abandon and scribbling on plastic name tags.
As can be imagined, those seeds germinated and spent a few days enjoying the sunshine before it was time to move them into the confines of a metal frame draped with netting. Why you may ask? Those white butterflies are tyrants at this time of year and love nothing more than to lay eggs on said seedlings. Well as it transpires, I did a rotten job at keeping those seedlings safe as I spotted a few holes in some leaves the other day.
So it’s time to plant these brassicas, beetroot and lettuce seedlings and poke in a winter flowers while I’m at it. I shall plant my brassicas within the confines of a cloche protected from those perilous white butterflies. Of course those bugs aren’t the only pests I shall be combating – winter for us means slugs and snails and for me, night patrols with my torch and a bucket of soapy water. Something which I actually don’t mind doing although I’m not thrilled about sharing the space with hissing possums.
Do you ever wonder why we go to all this trouble? Surely buying from a supermarket is less irksome. But nowhere near as much fun! And at least while my vegetables may be sporting the odd hole in the leaves, they have been grown organically and should be nutrient dense.
I haven’t mentioned my chooks in ages have I? They are still devoid of a man in their lives although they don’t really seem to mind (smart girls). Egg production has dropped severely with a maximum of 2 eggs per day. Oh the joys of moulting and a reduction in daylight hours.
Did I tell you that I have been making jellies and preserving? Bill has inspired me. As we had a massive haul of crab apples this year probably in the vicinity of 15 kg, I have made a crab apple jelly and put some aside for vodka. I have pickled more chillies over the weekend and made an outrageous chilli sauce that had me coughing and spluttering while cooking …
By the time of posting .. you will be happy to know that my brassicas are safe and sound in the ground 😀
Do you remember me saying that I had no quince? Really Julie! And yes, I made my first ever quince jelly and it is absolutely divine …
Not everything is about the garden