I’ve been too busy to chat.

I’ve missed you all and I don’t know how I managed to leave it so long before getting in touch.  I haven’t stopped or anything.  In fact, quite the opposite.  I’ve had my most productive June ever.     I think the expression – ‘if you want anything done, ask a busy person to do it’ sums up my days recently.   I had a large computer gardening project on, and I knew it was coming so I organised myself so I could absorb it into my schedule without missing a beat and I ended up being super-efficient.  I managed to get it done in a timely manner, along with many other things on my ‘to do’ list.

rainbow on the beach
We have also made plenty of time for family and walks on the beach in winter are amazing!

Historically I would put the project first and let everything else fall by the wayside and then emerge at the end in a bit of a flap at all the things I hadn’t done that were becoming increasingly urgent, and as a result I’d end up in a perpetual panic.  But this time I applied the gardening philosophy of ‘do a little and often’ to everything and so as I worked on the project I also set aside time for all of the other things as well and managed to achieve so much more, that now that it is finished I’m looking about for things to do on a rainy day when I can’t be outside that are things I’d scheduled to do in August.  It feels good, but I need to keep the momentum up as my trip away in November where I play host to a bus load of garden tourists visiting the best gardens New Zealand has to offer, will roll around before we know it.

Colourful winter harvest
You have to love a pink and green harvest – mostly brassica but also the last of the eggplant!

So, some of the things that I have achieved along the way have been to plan the new season garden and organise for the seeds I need.   I was quite ruthless with my planning as we are one set of hollow legs down, with only one teen lad left at home so don’t need so many pumpkins and other things.

problematic onion seedlings
Hmm something is not right with these onion roots. When I try to grow a years worth of onions then it isn’t worth taking the risk.

Then following the plan, I set about planting my onions out, but ran into problems.  The ones I grew from seed had a weird thickening on their roots.  I blame myself – I was too lazy to wash the pots I used, and I think they may have contaminated my seedlings with some kind of disease.  I didn’t trust them, so I discarded them and bought new healthy ones from the garden centre.   I see a big pot washing session coming up soon to get ready for the new season – it is only 8 weeks until spring and I start some of my early stuff in August so not far away at all.

Planting onion seedlings
There is no shame in buying seedlings – espcially if that is the only way you will get a harvest. These have been planted 7 seedlings across the 1m row in rows 20 cm apart. I still need to count up to see how many rows there are to anticipate the harvest.

My helper and I have made amazing progress on restoring order to the garden.  I still don’t know how I managed to let it slip so badly…  but with an extra pair of hands, we are about 1 or 2 sessions away from having the whole garden back into ship shape condition and then we can focus on projects and fun things, with a quick little and often approach to the weeding so it never gets out of control again!

Room Two of The Palace
I love the way this turned out and I can’t wait to watch it mature and fill the space.

I’ve also been working up in The Palace in Room Two.  It needs a better name.  But I made my design based on native plants that will do well here and then was delighted when I managed to source them all easily and many were found at bargain prices.  And then I planted them out – all 182 of them on a day we had a scheduled power outage, so was the best use of my time that day.  I still have more to do.  I need to hold the sand back with a good thick layer of mulch.  It is a large area, so I need to investigate the best price to get bang for my buck.  But I love the way this garden room is coming together.

The new chickens have settled in nicely without any argy bargy with Turducken, aside from their constant escaping. But they always escape back in to the coop when they’re hungry!

Since we last spoke we lost the last of our elderly chickens, leaving behind Turducken our 4 year old young lady that our ‘still at home teen lad’ raised from a day old chick for a school project.  We couldn’t leave her on her own, so a friendly neighbour came to a rescue with 5 spare ones from his flock.  Gosh I have to say young chickens are rather active compared to sedate old ladies.  The huge fence we have keeping them in is no match for them, so we need to go and clip a few wings before they find all the goodies in the garden!

Soil pH testing
I am finding the pH testing strips that came with my fermenting kit useful in all sorts of other activities.

Especially as I have just planted my brassica that should have gone in ages ago.  I even pH tested the soil, found it was a little too acidic and decided to lime the soil.  But ideally liming the soil should have been done weeks before planting to have time to work and I didn’t have any lime.  But I did have some Compost Maker which has lime and gypsum in it as well as a load of other goodies in it.  It is described as a bio accelerator so hopefully it should be fine…  I’ll let you know how they go!

puddling in brassica seedlings
I tried to do everything right with the planting of the brassica seedlings – aside from being free and easy with the Compost Maker. I did the gardeners shuffle across the bed to gently firm the soil. The only time I let anyone walk on the beds, and even then I’m the only one I let do the gardener shuffle so I know the soil has been firmed just right. Then I dug planting holes and filled them with water – twice, to puddle them in and them firmed the soil in around the seedlings. If I get bad brassica this time round, it won’t because because of the care and attention at the time of planting. But their seedling life was shaky and they still have a way to go before maturity – anything could happen.

And the last big project I’ve been tackling was designing an irrigation plan for my Mum’s garden.  The good people at Gardena are helping me to sort this out for her.  She had an amazing garden but if we can save her some time in the summer by automating her watering then it can free her up to just potter in the garden and do her first love – her art.  She is an amazing artist – you can check her out >here<.  I’ll take you with me on this project so you can see what we are going to do in her garden.

Pruning Chamomile
Pruning Chamomile has to be the most relaxing job. It should be done more frequently than I had been doing, but now it is on a regular routine list.

And today it is raining.  It wasn’t supposed to rain until tomorrow, so I will need to reach deep into my ‘to do’ list and look for a computer gardening project so I can keep up the momentum and tomorrow I will tackle some pruning, there are quite a few things that need chopping down!

Come again soon – did I mention spring is 8 weeks away!

Sarah the Gardener  : o)

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