Down-under sow seeds for fruits and flowers this week

Down-under sow seeds for fruits and flowers this week

It’s time to sow seeds for fruits and flowers next week – best days are Sunday 10th October 2016, + Thursday 13th – Friday 14th  [here in New Zealand] All plants with above-ground fruits, flowers, seeds that we eat and enjoy.

Before the full moon on 16th October.

In Auckland the weather has been milder – warm and wet, wet, wet!

I am already noticing molds starting – even on calendulas where, in past years, it had not been an issue. An early start to a warm, moist, humid season?

The grey molds reduce vitality of plants they grow on, so I’ll keep a closer eye on this issue now.

I will sow seeds of

  • Pumpkins/squashes/zucchini [courgettes] – love Tromboncino squash – a long crook-neck type. These green-skinned ones came from ‘Runningbrook Seeds’. We have also grown an orange version from ‘Diggers Seeds’. In Auckland we find  the green variety tastiest. There is another version ‘Rampicante crook-neck squash’ which is similar.

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  • Peas and beans [I sow direct and protect from snails and slugs] We will plant more climbing ‘Emu’ beans – a later producing bean which keeps on producing young beans even when there are many older ones drying on the vine! A great asset. Also some more dwarf varieties – I wonder which will do well now? As the young beans appear with their first leaves is a great indicator to me to plant the next generation seeds for a continuous supply.

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  • Chilies, peppers [capsicum] and eggplants [aubergine]  They really do best in summer heat and warm ground. Is it time to plant the special little pots from last month out yet? Maybe, as it’s a warm early Spring, I can plant some of them out in the garden now? And leave some to plant in November when it will be warmer again and less likely that storms will flatten them.
  • Tomatoes [also heat-lovers so they’ll go in somewhere warm – maybe some more in seed trays and some direct into warm ground by a warm patio?].  I’ll sow a number of varieties again – the ones that are powering along from last month’s sowing and maybe some others. The orange Moonlight, Oregon Spring [which was prolific last year; a red staking variety], Sweet 100 cherry [one of our favorites] and the ‘Self-sown cherry from the ginger pot’ [from many years ago which grows lovely mid-sized fruit] are our staples. I wonder what else will grow well this season?
  • Corn! Our first sowing can go into really rich ground now. Early Gem and Bantam have grown well here in the past so we’ll see this year.
  • Flowers of all sorts. Especially sunflowers, including ‘Russian Giant’. Just because…

 

I take indicators from successes and failures from the past month sowing.  If one variety is really doing well this year, we’ll plant more of it – and also plant a variety of other types because experiments to find new options are good fun for us.

Hopefully some we plant now will do well so we will have a harvest no matter what the weather does this year – hot/dry/cold/wet.

 

Spring is here – come take a walk around the garden with us!

Spring is here – come take a walk around the garden with us!

We took a walk around our garden and it shows Spring is springing! Woo hoo!

South Auckland, New Zealand can be a delight in Spring. Come on a wander around and see what we found.

From tiny little flowers.

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Forget-me-nots blue flowers arrive now its Spring
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Calendulas sunny blooms and Forget-me-nots blue flowers spreading over the perennial onions [long strappy leaves on the right]

And one of the garlic patches.

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Garlic growing well with mizuna, parsley, an orange tree and silver-beet

Oranges nearly all harvested – this dwarf tree had been loaded and has fed us for ages. Nearly time to grow leaves and then blossoms again instead of putting its energy into fruit.

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The garlic patch by a dwarf orange tree co-exist well as long as we harvest the garlic gently and minimize disturbance of the surface-roots of the tree.

 

And leafy greens are powering now – so good to have fresh, vibrant, sweet greens. These have been hiding beside the trampoline, protected from the worst of the freezing winds.

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Varieties: Bright Light Beets and Fordhook Giant

 

Endive self-seeded under another orange tree and is beautiful just now – almost sweet, and such soft leaves. Later, in warm weather it goes bitter and leaves get tough.

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And even a chili from last year!

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Hard to believe a chili plant survived the freezing cold southerly winds that blow in off the harbor! Yet here it is to amaze us. Maybe the orange tree protected it?

Let’s hope the frosts stay away

 

And the nectarine has 3 blossoms with more buds forming

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The first nectarine blossoms!

 

Wow – can’t plum trees make so many blossoms! The branches seem to be covered in flowers.

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And the plum tree is covered in blossom! All these trees are kept low, yet even so it has masses of blossoms.

 

And the apricot tree is starting to blossom!

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First apricot blossoms

The apricot tree is also just getting its first new blossoms. Here in Auckland with its warm, humid summers, it’s very optimistic to get fruit from a tree which likes hot, dry summers. This one is planted where it gets and see breeze off the harbor waters to minimize the humidity. Sometimes it works and we get great fruit!

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‘Espaliered’ apricot tree

We’ll take another walk around soon – there is so much beginning to grow again. See you soon

 Love love love Spring!

Breakfast a la our garden – even in winter!

 

In winter we really enjoy a warm, sustaining porridge containing lots more than just oats!

Here is our Winter Porridge Extraordinaire recipe:

Heather’s way [and below I have given approximate measured amounts if you prefer that way of cooking]

In a medium-sized saucepan, soak overnight

  • about a handful rolled oats
  • some chia seeds
  • some linseed [whole]
  • some ground LSA [we grind linseed, sunflower seeds and almonds – about the ratio 4:2:1]
  • 3-4x amount of water [filtered preferably]
  • if you have extra yogurt, add a dollop too – the acidic environment it creates means more unlocking of nutrients from the oats.

[Or

Approximate measurements:

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 tblspn chia seeds
  • 1 tblespn linseed [whole]
  • 2 tblspns ground LSA [we grind linseed, sunflower seeds and almonds – about the ratio 4:2:1]
  • 1 1/2 cups water [filtered preferably]
  • if you have extra yogurt, add a tblspn too – the acidic environment it creates means more unlocking of nutrients from the oats.]

In the morning, place the saucepan on the stove and bring to boil gently. I stir with a flat-bottomed wooden paddle/spoon to keep it from sticking. When it starts to bubble, turn the heat right down to extra-low and simmer gently until cooked.

Add 1-2 tblspns tahini [ground sesame seeds] which will thicken the mix and give it a creamy consistency. Add more water if it is too thick. Stir.

Turn off the heat and leave sit for a few minutes if you have time – the flavors blend and mellow. Re-assess whether it needs more water to thin it or more tahini to thicken it. Adjust as required to be just how you like it.

Some people like adding a sweetener – stewed fruit works for us – apple, peaches, nectarines, apricots are so sweet. Or add some dried fruit to the dry oats and soak over night [sultanas, raisins, currants, dates, etc all give a different flavor and provide variety]

Other additions we sometimes include:

  • cinnamon
  • cardamon

 

So, to create a winter breakfast energy boost:
Take

  • 1 apple – chopped [or other fresh fruit you like]
  • Stewed fruit [home grown and preserved plums here]
  • Yogurt  [or whatever you like instead – kefir/milk/coconut milk/almond milk/etc]
  • Add the cooked mixed grains of a delicious porridge.

Optional: serve with a mandarin and/or orange before or after [just because they are so delicious at the moment] and savor!

[PS: Some people like to start the meal with a small glass of water with juice of 1/2 small lemon in it. We like Meyer or Lemonade lemons as they are sweeter than many other lemons.]

[PPS: Apples, oranges and mandarins are from our trees. Orange is just starting. Mandarins nearly finished and so sweet. And amazingly we’re still picking apples from the tree! Crisp and sweet – a real joy]

Our first persimmon!

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We planted a persimmon tree 18 months ago as an experiment – we had never grown them before. What would they be like? Could it grow here in a small suburban yard? On clay [all the top-soil went with the subdivision]? Would it like Auckland’s semi-tropical climate with warm, moist summers?

Persimmons are deciduous small trees and lose their leaves in winter so I thought it may just be a hopeful dream to grow our own organic ones.

Yet, here it is. Our small tree which we ‘sort-of’ espaliered on the fence in a narrow garden bed has lots of lovely green leaves and now has ripening fruit! Wonderful.

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What experiments do you wonder about? Do start, you never know what is possible anywhere until you try.