Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Waiting for spring.

This has been an unusual winter.  It began with a real "Indian summer" with vegetables that hould have died off still producing, setting fruits, until well into May and June.  Then,  after several dry years, where priorities have been water storage, short showers and using second hand water for all sorts of things,  June and July turned out to be wet enough to have some luxurious long showers, rinse dishes under running water and take the easy way out with pot-plants (using a hose.)  By the end of July, we had had as much rain for the seven months as we had over twelve months in the past two years.  Despite threats of el Nino (and that means drought here) live seemed easy.

August has been different too.  It is supposed to be the end of winter.  There has been very little rain, several frosts and cold, cold days.  Maximum temperatures have been around 10C - 18C for the past couple of weeks…. and that is cold for here.

The soil is now cold.  Gardening has become more of a weeding and soil preparation job now.  I have dug a few patches that had weeds in them,  turning the weeds in (in the same way as "green manure") and I've added some rock dust to a few places that I am expecting good things from in the summer.
I have been harvesting enough food to be able to avoid the shops.  Current favourites are beetroot, kale, silver beet, potatoes (that I harvested a couple of months ago when the plants died off) carrots, and plenty of herbs.  Despite the birds eating a lot of the leaves from the pea plants (ordinary ones and snow peas) I am still able to pick a few.  I have a few frozen broad beans left (these make really good risotto) and the pumpkins are only half gone.

This morning…..  the boad beans are flowering and all that is needed now is a bit of warm weather to set some pods….
 ….  the cabbage that sowed itself in the pathway is looking good.  This year I planted more cauliflowers than cabbages, and those were good,  the cabbages are all coming along nicely.  I have found another self-sown one as well….  in a pathway (making mowing hard to do in that spot!)
 Herbs are plentiful…. coriander….
 ….. and plenty more,  annuals and perennials.  This is the time of the year when thyme seems the tastiest too…  not sure why.

This Russian kale is self-sown.  It grew among the potatoes and when I harvested thos a few weeks ago,  I left the kale.  I've planted seeds in that patch now (they are mostly up) but the kale remains.  This is the variety that seems to be less bothered by cabbage moths and their green caterpillars (I have some thoughts about that,  but that is for another day.)  This plant has changed colour with the frost….
… it had a little bit of purple in its leaves all along,  but after a coupld of frosty nights,  the purple patches were significantly greater….  I suppose the plant is withdrawing the chlorophyll from the leaves… it must be one of the more costly appendages to lose in a frost…  it's like deciduous trees turning red or yellow before dropping their leaves in autumn… or gum leaves turning red or purple before they are discarded.  These plants are smart.

It's time to order some seeds from the catalogue and start some of them off inside…  ready for when the sun returns, the soil re-warms and garden work gets busy.

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