Wednesday, December 9, 2015

December in Drummonds - garden notes

I've been home for almost 2 months now, and have been settling in to the gentle flow of a life without a timetable. I'm enjoying the freedom to potter, to not need to overschedule myself, to do a hundred small things in my own sweet time.

Just after getting home I bought 4 new chooks. Unfortunately my 4 from last year got picked off one by one by a predator which got underneath the fence and spirited them away. So far, the new flock have only been allowed up in the top, fully fox proofed, pen and will stay in there until I have done further repairs on the run down the side of the house. There's plenty of shade, and room for sandbaths, so they shall be fine. They are in great shape and have begun to produce eggs more consistently.

Whilst I was away my wonderful house sitters, Jill and Perry, nurtured my garden with great care. They planted many new veges, kept it weed free and even kept the compost making up. Yay, lots of yummy new soil to add to the patch.

When I arrived home the garden looked great. Lots of greenery, tomato plants covered in fruit, marigolds and pansies interplanted with the veg, pumpkin vines spreading all over the place, and many new seedlings showing lots of vigour. And pawpaw ripening and ready to eat. Yum!

Since then, summer has arrived, with blistering hot temperatures which wreak havoc on the patch. All the squash and most of the pumpkins succumbed to powdery mildew, the cucumber seedlings haven't fared much better either. The new snow peas just shrivelled up and died, as did the coriander, both plants I wouldn't have put in at this time of year but when you don't know the climate you can't garden from experience.

The broccoli, however, has been a revelation. Rather than rip it out I've kept it in the patch. It has served two purposes, one as a decoy plant for those pesky white cabbage moths, whose green caterpillars are very hungry indeed! Secondly, it keeps producing small flower heads which I pick regularly and contribute to a meal every few days. This is one of the joys of home gardening, where you can just harvest what you need, as you go. I don't need a whole head of broccoli for a meal, but five or six broccolini stalks is perfect.

I'm about to start harvesting some baby corn which Jill and Perry planted. I'm just waiting for it to ripen. It's under shade cloth, so that may be delaying it a little.

Talking of which, the shade sails are up, including my new, bright red, sail for the house. I'm not sure if red is OK as I know green shade cloth blocks out the light spectrum that the plants need to photosynthesise. The plants all get some direct sunlight at some time during the day, so hopefully that will be enough for their needs. Unfortunately it can sometimes be too much.....

Another sign of summer is dragonfruit. The vines have all grown heaps over winter, and this week they began putting out flower spikes. It's about 7 weeks till I head off to Japan, so hopefully I'll be savouring some before I go.

I'm really happy with my mango tree. It looks like this tree just might be the one that survives. It has lots of new growth and the trunk is beginning to thicken. Looking good for fruit in maybe another 3 or 4 years……

I harvested onions this year. I'm not always that successful with onions, or leeks, though chives grow easily here. I've just planted a variety of Mediterranian onion which can grow during the warmer months, so we'll see how that goes. I also harvested the kumara vine. I ended up with about 5 tubers in total, some small and some huge. Roasted kumara chips are to die for! I've replanted 4 cuttings, and given the rest of the vine away via the local Facebook gardening page. Gotta love social networking..

Remember the eggplants I planted? Well my plant grown from seed has survived and is fruiting, whilst Freddie's seems to have died, and Jill and Perry planted even more seedlings around the garden.

The asparagus continues to push up spears. Some are a fairly solid thickness too, others still matchstick thin. Gardening is a waiting game…

I've been doing a lot more than gardening since my return. I've been decluttering, painting, renovating, windsurfing, and planning more adventures.

More on that next. But I thought I'd finish with a few flowers.

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