It’s almost spring! How did that happen so quickly? I for one am glad that the coldest weather is hopefully firmly behind us as we move forwards to warmer and longer days. So much has been happening around the garden that I decided it was time for an update as to my activities.
We have been eating very well from our garden over the winter. As you can see from the pictures, we have been harvesting a lot of broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, kale, bok choy and lettuce. All of these plants were started as established seedlings from the garden centre (except the carrots which were sown direct). Generally speaking, the winter garden needs little care compared to the summer garden, so it was nice to have such a productive garden without having to put in as much effort.
Over the past three months, we have been inundated with beautiful flowers from the garden. We started having earlicheer, then dutch iris, followed by daffodils and finally freesias. Here are some pictures from our wonderful display of spring bulbs this year.
You may recall in my previous post that I mentioned my chillies and capsicums were doing well. What I didn’t mention was that we have been keeping them in our old spa pool room, which we converted into a green house with the help of my Uncle Tony. All of the plants (except some purchased tomatoes which are incredibly tall) are kept inside Sistema crates with the lid on, which functions as a mini green house within the bigger green house. It’s necessary to do this as the green house isn’t heated and the temperature does drop, especially at night. Here are some photos of my plants in the green house.
We hosted a French couple for two and a half weeks in August, JC and Melissa, who helped me tidy the garden and prepare the beds for spring. Together, we accomplished so much. JC and Melissa helped me by weeding the garden, planting the seed potatoes, liquid feeding the plants, staking the broad beans and securing them with string, planting seedlings and much more. On rainy days, they helped us indoors by tidying our garage and pantry. Here are a few photos of the gardening and spring cleaning that we did together.
Bee and butterfly friendly garden
I try and make the garden as bee and butterfly friendly as possible. I think it’s important to attract these creatures, provide food for them and encourage their life cycle to continue in order to help nature. Both help pollinate fruit and vegetables around the garden, so it’s in all gardeners’ interests to help protect these creatures. At the moment, we have a lot of borage and calendula in flower. Both self-seeded. Once you plant them in the garden, you shouldn’t have to sow or plant them in the future. We also have some wildflowers which are in bloom. I sowed a patch of wildflowers a few springs ago and they often pop up on their own, just like the borage and calendula. We also have a lot of lavender in bloom, which is very helpful to attract bees to the garden and aid the pollination of our fruit trees. To attract butterflies to the garden, I have a lot of swan plants, many of which self-seeded around the garden. We have even been sighting butterflies in winter! Here are a few photos from our bee and butterfly friendly garden which I hope you enjoy.
Cat friendly garden
In addition to attracting bees and butterflies to the garden, we also try and make the garden a cat friendly territory for our beloved feline Ginger, who came into our lives when she found a home for herself in our garden a couple of years ago. Cat friendly plants include cat grass (which cats adore lying on and eating), cat mint and cat nip. I usually sow fresh cat grass every spring, but our cat nip overwintered beautifully, meaning that I won’t have to sow fresh seeds this year. Ginger adores lying in it and inhaling it, which makes her incredibly happy (but apparently it can make some cats quite aggressive!).
Potatoes, garlic and strawberries
All are doing very well, as can be seen in the pictures below. The potatoes should be ready in November, all going well. The garlic is usually harvested on the longest day of the year, which is 21st December. Normally, the strawberries start fruiting in late October or early November and the strawberry season lasts until the end of December.
Peas and asparagus
A sign that spring is well and truly here was the sight of our first asparagus, which you can see from the picture below. We have also harvested the first of our peas. In autumn, a wwoofer called Berengere helped me sow some Easy Peasy peas from Egmont Seeds along our trellis at the back of our house. As you can see from the picture, they have grown marvellously and were so delicious lightly steamed along with the asparagus.
We have had the most amazing display of vireya in August. Here are photos of Tropical Glow, Golden Charm and Kisses in flower.
More plants for the garden!
Kings Plant Barn had a massive sale on seedlings recently, so I stocked up on flower, veggie and herbs for the spring garden. Here are just some of the seedlings which I purchased. I will plant these out with the wwoofers, a young Danish couple, who arrive tomorrow and are staying a week with us. This is great as it means that I won’t have to do as much seed sowing as I would normally do in spring. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE raising seedlings, but I often find that germination can be a bit hit or miss at this time of the year as temperatures are constantly fluctuating. There is also a big difference between day and night time temperatures (don’t forget that plants have to survive the nights as well as the days!).