Over the past month, I have been busy in the garden with the following activities:
Digging and chopping up giant sunflowers – following their beautiful display in summer comes the hard work in autumn of clearing dead sunflowers. It was quite an effort to chop them all up and they filled four waste bins (two collection cycles as we have such a large garden that we require two bins). Sometimes this puts me off growing them as the clear up is such a big task but they are beautiful and remain one of my favourite features of the summer garden
Clearing the strawberry patch – I weeded the area where we planted strawberries last year in preparation for planting the fresh lot of plants when they arrive. Last year, I purchased plants from a commercial grower in Katikati and we had the best crop of strawberries since I started gardening! Every day saw a huge silver bowl full of strawberries over a period of three and a half months. I’m purchasing plants from the same grower this year and they are supposed to arrive in May/June, so they shouldn’t be very far away at all. Although the plants will go in the same area, I did plant zucchini and cucumbers in between cycles so this should hopefully provide adequate crop rotation
Planting winter veggies – I have started planting a winter garden, consisting of cabbages, broccoli, cauliflower, kale and broad beans. I’ll be putting in more of these plants once I’ve finished planting the last of our spring bulbs (see below)
Sowing pea and broad bean seeds – As I have had a late start to the winter garden this year, I decided to sow peas (Alderman from Egmont, Climbing from Yates, Petit Provencal from Kings Seeds and Snow peas from my friend Rob Hammington) and broad beans (Imperial Green and Exhibition from McGregors) indoors, to be transplanted outdoors when they are big enough. Initially I had them on the heat pad but as we have been having such warm weather lately, I took them off and they have been germinating just fine. I’ll plant them outdoors when they’re a bit bigger and I’ve had a chance to clear the trellises at the back of our house which have Malabar spinach from summer growing over them.
Potatoes – I’ve started giving thought to the potatoes that I’d like to grow over winter. I managed to source two bags of Summer Delight from Tui, which I have been meaning to grow in our garden as mentioned in a previous blog post, but somehow keep missing out. I have read good things about Summer Delight from Lynda Hallinan, who grows a whopping 25 kg of this variety in her country garden every year. It’s a main crop variety and is an incredibly high yielder. A 1.5 kg bag is supposed to produce 20kg of potatoes! I plan to put these in on the shortest day, which is when the days gradually become longer and you can start planting potatoes outdoors. I also hope to source some Agria, Jersey Benne and Liseta potatoes for our garden, too. Tui have also released a new variety called Summer Beauty, which is a cross between Summer Delight and Coliban. Like Summer Delight, it’s also a main crop variety. I haven’t seen this one at Mitre 10 (who stock Tui), but I’ll keep an eye out for it in future.
Planting spring bulbs – I have been busy planting my stock of spring bulbs in the garden bed by our neighbour’s willow tree. I am very excited about this space as the new owner who moved in late last year cut down the willow tree, so the area now gets full sun! In summer, I can’t wait to try growing a sun-loving crop such as pumpkins or squash in the area so we can make better use of this space.
Ordering garlic – Following a bad season last year, I was understandably reluctant to grow garlic again. I say that every year, but I always give it another try as my philosophy when things go wrong in the garden is that “there’s always next year!”. This year, I ordered five different varieties from Bulbs Direct – Printanor, Elephant, Turban, Kakanui and Ajo Rojo. I also sourced two huge Printanor bulbs from Farro in Orakei, which I will also plant in the garden. The garlic I ordered from Bulbs Direct will arrive in mid-June, which gives me a fortnight to clear some space and prepare the bed prior to planting.