So, how’s winter treating me?

Well to be honest, not too shabby.  The winds of last week are well behind us, although I have to say I am glad I wasn’t here.  It isn’t so much the wind itself that bothers me but the horrendous noise it makes.  The whistling and the howling.  That’s why I don’t get yachting – even the nicest summer day can be made to feel stormy as the wind whips itself around the ropes and sails… not an occupation for me!    But I’m getting off topic.

This was taken once I got where I was going, but at the height of the fogginess you wouldn’t have been able to see beyond the trees!

While the big bad wind is an occasional given, living here by the coast, there is another unexpected advantage.  Every morning this week I have awoken to blue sky days, with hardly a breath of wind and the sun emerging from behind the hill and blessing the day.  It is cold, but not freezing and I feel confident a productive day will unfold.  Then I have to get in my car and go further afield and at the end of the road – BOOM!  Fog!  Fog so thick it has a visibility of less than the distance between two power poles.  It was so bad that in the last couple of days up to 30 flights a day had been cancelled at Auckland airport.  With the fog a gloom descended and the positive attitude I started the day with dissolved into the mist and all I wanted to do was wrap a big fluffy blanket about me and eat soup!  Even returning home to our sunny spot by the sea, it was still difficult to shake the fugginess of the day off my shoes and I had to work hard at working hard to get things done.

Elephant Garlic cloves
I am always amazed at the size of the Elephant Garlic cloves. These are some I saved from last year.

But I did get things done.  I crossed everything off the list I wrote myself to do in the garden this week.  Everything except digging trenches for the irrigation.  I keep putting it off but once it is done, I will be so pleased so maybe next week I’ll just dig deep to find what I need to dig ditches.

It is down to the fact I didn’t get round to making my pickled onions yet that I had a good supply of shallots to choose from this year. But I should get on and pickle the ones I didn’t plant sooner rather than later… they won’t wait forever.

I did some work on my onion overflow bed.  The one for the elephant garlic, shallots, red onions and leeks.  I found in my records I didn’t do a spacing chart like I did for everything else as they were already in the ground and I didn’t make a note.  I always struggle with spacing because the greedy part of me wants to squeeze in as much as possible, but if I give them enough space they will grow better (bigger) and will be less likely to pick up fungal diseases that thrive in a crowded allium patch.

Working out spacings
There is nothing like a visual representation of the plant to help figure out where everything needs to go.

I’m a visual person, so after I enriched the bed with enough goodies for the plants to live in comfort for the next 6 months, I spaced the planting spaces using my 10 cm pots.  The elephant garlic and shallots were positioned a pot and a half apart in rows that had two pots between them.  Seeing the pots laid out across the garden gave me confidence the spacing was good and the plants would have enough room.  It is hard to imaging how big they will be at the end, but it is important to try.  The red onions were spaced with pot between them in both directions – you really don’t want giant red onions!

Muehlenbeckia cuttings
I don’t know why I put off taking the Muehlenbeckia cuttings, it wasn’t difficult and took less than an hour to do 60 cuttings. Let’s just hope some of them take!

I finally got around to doing some cuttings from the Muehlenbeckia.  I shouldn’t beat myself up too much with the delay of not doing it as now is a more appropriate time.  I found instructions on the great big internet and followed them to the letter and even making sure most of the cuttings had a ‘heel’ at the base.  It is quite hard to get decent specimens as it is such a wiry plant.  I hacked quite a lot of foliage from the wild growing plants, but most was too thin and unsuitable for cuttings, but I managed to get 60 twigs into pots, so now I hope for the best.

Thanks to the wind the yellowing fronds of the asparagus were stripped of their tiny leaves and so all that was left standing was what looked like a bunch of twigs.  So, I cut them down to ground level and then topped the bed with compost and other goodies to feed them for another season and then topped the lot with a fermented Lucerne mulch.  By my calculations I should be able to sample a few this season.  I sowed the seed in 2017, then put them in the garden last year so that makes them two year old crowns.  Next season we can go wild and eat the lot for the next 25 years.  I’ve missed the taste of fresh asparagus, there is nothing like it.

Repotting sweetpeas into paper cups
I have found repotting into paper cups is great when you don’t have enough pots of the right size. But it is important to pop some holes in the bottom as paper cups aren’t supposed to have good drainage!

And I repotted my sweet peas, they were out in the wind and got a little beaten up so needed some love and I repotted all my onions even though they go in, in a couple of weeks as their soil got a little too soggy while I was away recently and some were beginning to rot away.  Trying not to blame anyone in particular, but let’s just say he’s not a gardener…

Homemade soap
Not a bad batch of soap for a first attempt. I tried to keep it simple, but it is very easy to get lost in the mesmerizing world of soap making online!

Oh, and I made soap… proper stuff with the lye and oils!  It was loads of fun and reminded me of my days working in a laboratory with the googles, gloves and careful measurements.  I can’t wait to do it again.  We’ll be the cleanest family in the land.

Come again soon – there is some digging to be done.

Sarah the Gardener  : o)

9 thoughts on “So, how’s winter treating me?

  1. I give my elephant garlic about 9 inches square per clove. This gave me enormous heads this year vs 6 inches square last year. I’ve started growing shallots from seed. They only grow one to each station, but they are as big as medium onions. Yummy. I love shallots. Turns out they love composted stable manure.
    Nice soap. I’ve made soap for several years. So much better than bought stuff, but doesn’t last as long. You can perfect it for your skin by using different oils and butters. Soap Calc helps when you mix several different oils. Have fun. It’s an addictive hobby

    1. I have a few shallots from seed as well as the bulb ones. I grew them last year and they were rather large too.
      I have watched a bazzilion soap making videos on You Tube and even that is addictive! I’m looking forward to making many more bars of soap in the future! : o)

      1. At the time, it was the only fat I had access too, and even though it took a long time to accumulate enough for soap, it accumulated faster than I could use it for frying. That should have been an indication that my diet needed improvement. I buy soap now. There are no pork beasts scurrying about here.

  2. Hi Sarah, nice to read how you are doing, and you seem very productive and busy with all sorts of delightful growing and making. It all sounds lovely, I’m so glad you are having a good winter.

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