I’m not sure what is up with time lately. One moment it feels like it is dragging and taking forever to pass and the next I find myself dazed and exhausted days later and shocked to find it is Friday! I think it has something to do with the school holidays as the routine is gone and all sense of normal along with it.
Last weekend included a lovely bush walk with my mum. I don’t often hang out with my mum because she lives so far away, and I don’t often hang out in the bush because I’m apparently ‘too busy’. I need to do both more.
Then I came home to something that has been guilting me since the summer. Pickling the onions and shallots. I figured they could wait until I was ready as they store well. The thing is I was never ready enough for them and then the pearl drop onions started to show signs of green tips at the top. It could be put off no more. The thing is there were loads of shallots and they were small. Taking the skins off them is tricky and I still have strong memories of little shards of onion skin stabbing me under the nail. One stab is nothing, but hundreds of stabs is enough to create memories strong enough to look for alternatives – so I soaked them to soften the skins and they slip off so much easier. However, when you have hundreds of small onions it can take many, many hours and leave your fingers deeply wrinkled. But once you start the pickling process you can’t really stop.
After the exhausting pickled onion experience, I took things a little easy in the garden and sowed a few more onion seeds that arrived in the mail. I have to say I was a little light on the onion seeds that will be pickled next season. If I complain about not having many to pickle next season – point me towards this blog post. While looking for the extra onion seeds I wanted, I also ordered some asters and peony poppies that can be sown now. I seem to be drawn towards bright booffy blooms. I was also pleased to see the chamomile lawn seeds I need for a project had popped up as I was pushing it a little with the sowing dates, but I will need the plants soon. And the first Pukekohe Longkeepers onions have popped up!
At this time of year when the temperatures are mild, but the rains have returned, the sand in the paths is ripe for seed germination. But I like my paths clear and I need to hoe more frequently than any other time of year. I’d dropped the ball a little on this, out of the habit of not needing to. I picked up the hoe and hoed the entire garden, so I had a clean slate to reinclude path hoeing in my daily sector system maintenance. It was one of those cathartic chores and absorbed several hours and I only got one blister! As I went along, I noticed all the little chores and tasks that needed attending – the ones that you make a mental note of, but as they aren’t urgent you immediately forget they need doing. When I finished hoeing, I sat up on my swing seat to catch my breath and wrote a big list of all the chores – divided into short term and long term. Then I spent the rest of the week attempting to cross them all off.
The first was to pick the peppers. The harvest wasn’t as great as in other years, but because of the rough start it wasn’t unexpected. The rains had started to cause rot spots where the insects had been sucking on them and so I had to just get in there and save what I could. I chopped them up into quarters and vac-packed in colour groups and frozen them.
Then I planted my early garlic. I find I get better results by starting early so the plants can put on some good growth before the rust hits. But I have discovered I need to find the balance of being early enough, but as the cold begins to start. Last season I was a little too early and the moist warm autumn conditions were perfect for the rust and it struck pretty much as the plants emerged. I still got an ok harvest. The boffins are suggesting the temperatures will begin to drop dramatically from next week. Although I always get befuddled working out the spacing. How hard can it be – 6 plants in 16 rows in a 1m x 4m bed. I poked all the holes several times and hoed them away as something was wrong. I ended up with 17 rows and thought stuff it, that will do, and I had prepared 6 extra cloves, so I popped them in some pots.
The next task was to remove the solitary Painted Mountain Corn plant and the last Zucchini plant. They weren’t up to much and the rats were getting into them. After I removed the corn, I popped in some mustard cover crop as it isn’t needed until next season for the beans… although, hold on, I need to pop the broad beans in the end there now so I may have to weed some of the mustard out once they pop up.
In the Zucchini bed, the problem came from the lemongrass pots I sat on the soil in the spring and didn’t come back to… until now. It took quite a lot of effort to find and remove the plastic pot. I’ve put them in some of the new large pots I bought the other day and for now they look lovely flanking the tool shed doors.
While I was at the repotting, I separated an Ajuga plant I bought recently at a sale for $5. I ended up with 15 plants! And I repotted some Whau seedlings I grew from seed – but that was by accident because I accidently kicked over the seed tray. And I repotted the Port Wine Magnolia I bought for an Easter project but aren’t sure I know what I’ll do with it. I also took a few more Muehlenbeckia cuttings because you can’t have too many of these and I also need them for the upcoming project.
And I have continued to make great progress on my faux rock. I will outline more of this project as I get going, but for now I’m just gathering my materials.
Come again soon – I have been so busy with the doing but need to get better with the updating.
Sarah the Gardener : o)
NB: To find out what is going on in the small pictures, click on them to reveal the caption.