This month is mostly about Picking, Preserving and Pickling. especially our crops of tomatoes and zucchinis.The tomatoes will go straight into the freezer to be used later for soups. Any green ones will be the basis of our delicious green tomato and pineapple relish. Zucchinis don’t freeze well so they are bound for the pickling pot. All the tomato plants will then be removed in order to prepare the beds for planting broad beans. We usually leave the ground fallow for a while but sometimes plant a crop of a light leafy green feeder such as lettuce or spinach. It’s probably too late for any new planting of carrots, but the ones we put in earlier are doing well
We have harvested a large quantity of apples and these will be stewed and then bottled or frozen. Some will be made into apple and mint chutney. Despite the trees looking very healthy, it has not been a good stone fruit season for us this year, especially the plums. We possibly pruned a little too hard last year. Our Grapes, however, have produced a bumper crop, as have the quince trees. Slow roasted with honey is a great way to use these as well as the traditional jams and jellies.
The NZ cranberry bushes (not a native despite its name) are ready to be picked and we are thinking up ways to use the berries. They taste a little like (their relative ) guavas but with a hint of strawberry.
We have discovered rust on our peach seedlings and trees so they will all be sprayed with lime sulphur. We have researched this chemical and are satisfied that it fulfills the requirements of organic gardening. Apricots do not like it however.
March is a good month for planting silver beet and also the last of the winter brassicas will be put in after the ground has had blood and bone and sheep manure applied.
Our Summer Market Day is being held on Saturday 9th December from 10am until 2pm. All the usual good stuff will be on offer: plants, produce, baking, preserves etc. In addition, local resident Neil will be bringing along his collection of renovated bicycles . A good range of bikes will be for sale; children’s and adult sizes.
Our Pea crop has finished but the second crop of Broad Beans is ready for harvesting. We are using Crimson Hughey which is a new variety with beautiful maroon flowers. It is cropping well so we will probably use it again.
It’s the time of year when watering is crucial and we need volunteers to help with our watering roster over the next month or two. If you would like to help come along to the market day and sign up to the roster. Sprinkler theft makes setting up the roster a little more difficult. Each year we lose two or three sprinklers, with an occasional hose going too. Given the hot weather we’ve been experiencing early in the summer the possibility of water restrictions is looming. At the gardens we have 3 big plastic barrels which are kept full of water. If restrictions are applied we can then use their contents with a watering can. If you do the same at home, make sure your barrel has a secure top to keep out mozzies and stop infants falling in.
Tomato training is in progress. Some of our volunteers are not at all certain about how to go about this so Christine will probably run a workshop in January. If you’d like to join in call in and talk to her.
Light summer pruning of our grapevine will be done this month. If you have a vine at home we suggest you prune to the last two or three leaves beyond the last developing bunch. This will give a much improved crop.
Have a great Christmas.
November is almost half gone already and the gardens are beginning to yield their bounty.
Sweet eating peas are ready for picking as are the fragrant sweet peas. The Cavolo Nero is looking spectacular and is also ready to eat. It makes a great dip. Mix natural yoghurt, tahini, just cooked peas, a sprig of mint and the cavolo nero with the centre part of the leaf removed and run through the blender.
We are planting tomatoes, potatoes (at our site in St Martins) carrots and pumpkins. We will be planting for succession crops right through until February. It is also time to start thinking about what to sow in the Autumn for Winter yield, with an eye to crop rotation. Usually the brassicas (cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli) go in then.
Show weekend is the traditional time when all danger of frost has passed and we will wait until then before putting in French Beans. It’s also now too warm for Bok Choy as it tends to bolt in the warmer temperatures.
The starlings nesting in the kitchen extractor fan have successfully hatched their eggs and are now extremely busy bringing food to the chicks. It wont be long before they are fledged and then we can use the fan again.
Elderflowers are out and Christine is busy making elderflower cordial. If you haven’t tried it grab a bottle at one of our market days or call in to Strickland St. It’s delicious with ice on a hot day.
We will be at the St Mary’s Fair in Church Square Addington on the 25th November. It’s a lovely old church and the fair is always fun, so come along and have a look around.