December in the Garden
As the end of the year draws near, my garden seems to be shutting down much like workplaces around the country.
A few weeks ago it was over flowing with lush green, oversized plants, that were in desperate need of a trim and cull.
But a mere two weeks on, and post weed and feed, things are shrivelling up and have stopped growing. Which is not ideal. I thought this was an abundant time of year?
It would seem all the rain we’ve had in the North in amongst the strikingly hot summer days is playing havoc with my patch.
Just a few weeks ago we were plucking a dozen plump strawberries a day, passing neighbours commenting how early and lucky we were. The greens were going gangbusters and the BBQ and zoodle maker couldn’t keep up with the prolific yellow zucchini.
My growing bump hasn’t helped things of course. While I normally spend an hour or so each week maintaining the garden, that’s been a bit of a struggle with low energy and end of year activities.
So when I finally grabbed that solitude a few days ago to pluck and pull and cull and cultivate, I found some pretty dry beds underneath. Despite the pea straw, the black raised beds are a bit crusty on top and it’s no wonder everything is rebelling and failing to thrive.
My visiting Dad from Taupo is keen on a Hungry Bin worm farm so I put him to task feeding the worm tea across the pottage. A months worth of tea equalled about 10 watered down can loads and I felt smug that we were on top of things again. But alas, I feel that water itself is my main problem.
It’s such a wet climate in Auckland I think that’s what the beds are used to and all of a sudden they’re parched.
This revelation promoted a 6am walk to surreptitiously inspect other neighbour hood gardens and on return, to a still quiet household, 30 good minutes of vigorous watering, particularly the citrus area.
(Regular readers of this column might like to know my prized one year old Mandarin tree which up and nearly died a few months ago, has staged a welcome comeback and is almost back to it’s former glory after a lot of citrus fertiliser and TLC – phew!)
What I did notice out and about was all the smart watering systems going on in the hood. There were sprinklers on timers and gardens looking glorious everywhere. I’m yet to figure out if a good weekly drink or a daily soak is the best way? But I’m loathe to let the leaves of the zucchini and cucumber get too wet for fear of powdery mildew, so I’ll be looking at installing some low-lying, in bed watering solutions.
Watering is something I always enjoy doing myself, but with this baby on the way and two others to run around after, my watering has been a bit remiss.
I did visit the gorgeous Poderi Crisci winery & gardens on Waiheke Island recently, which had the most amazing, vege, herb and flower garden. Two gardeners work there full time, and deliver the chefs their daily produce. It’s divine and aspirational.
I noticed their beds were plump with a fine, luscious mulch which was doing the business. It was something I’d never heard of before - sea grass. So I’ll hunt down a bit of that on my next Palmers visit, and get the watering sorted and hopefully we won’t have a vege drought over Christmas and January!
On the plus side, the corn is growing (my summer 2015 highlight!), and seems at this stage to be aphid free, as do the mandarins (I hate those little passionfly suckers!)
The passionfruit is still my hero of the garden at the moment and I’m about to up end the Christmas new Potatoes.
I’m nervous about when to do this, and it might be a bit later yet as the tops haven’t quite died off. If I pull this one off they’ll be the most prized potatoes we’ve ever eaten!
I love the garden, and love to learn. We’re just over a year of growing our own and the thing I love about it is there’s always something new to learn, and always someone more knowledgeable to ask.
Speaking of which – I’ll have the fabulous Ron Vanzuilen on my Saturday Fresh Radio Show (Nationwide on Radio Live) taking our questions on Saturday 7th and 14th of January between 11am-12pm. So tune in and ask away! I know I’ll have a wee list of my own!
Merry Christmas to all and happy Watering and Gardening. It’s a sprinkler system and sea grass on my Santa List!