A short photo essay of my neighbour’s apple tree, as seen from my garden.
This poem by Christina Ferens comes from her haunting, soothing and beautiful book: “ The Country Diary of a New Zealand Lady”
“ Farewell to February, her fair charm,
Her golden tresses, cut and gathered!
Long days the men enticed have laboured,
An eye to the sky till day was done,
To win her favour, combed and bound,
Lying invitingly upon the ground,
Awaiting embrace, to be lifted up,
Laid high in chambers dry and airy,
Lofty, full to bursting – February,
To be remembered all the year
For her warmth and her bounty.”
My gardening eye had been on the garlic in the past couple of weeks. The tops were beginning to dry indicating that the best growth has happened below ground.
Ironically garlic is meant to help keep aphids off over plants but I had discovered numerous colonies of black aphids on my garlic stems. They were not welcome.
Time to harvest was hastened by weather news that we are to experience the dregs of Cyclone Evan here over the next few days. That will mean damp, humid, sweaty weather which is not helpful to garlic…..or lots of other plants……and humans.
After the heavy mists and rain of yesterday morning had been burnt off by the sun I headed out and harvested 41 head of garlic and 5 elephant garlic.
These heads are Year 2 heads and can be eaten (yum!) and I will plant the bulbils back in the ground to produce next year’s elephants. Ideally elephant garlic grows best in a roughish patch of ground where it can cycle through the years and regenerate as well as offering pickings for consumption.
I lack such a piece of ground and use a black tub instead so bit more intervention and organization is required.
The garlic is drying off in the garage, which will now smell very pungent for a while. No vampires in our garage.
Gardening is a mysterious occupation and the mystery often remains unsolved despite our best human efforts.
These baby beetroot are part of my third attempt at growing a small crop of beetroot.
The first crop was a dismal failure which I shrugged off as “one of those things that happen when gardening”. I had no prior experience with this particular plant so I figured I hadn’t got something right.
I optimistically planted a second crop and gave the plants a lot more attention. I made sure the plants were watered, had plenty of sunshine and fed but again I was very disappointed to find that the beets were very small at harvest.
Not to be beaten, although my spirits were low, I went on to the internet to see what I could find about growing beetroot. I was fully expecting to find that I had missed a critical factor or two. But information I found reassured me that I was doing everything right.
With this determined attitude I planted baby beets in mid March this year with intentions to harvest them in early May. Lo and behold I have a good sized crop of baby beetroot.
What made the difference? I would have to suspect it was the sudden and prolonged period of warm weather we experienced and then some wonderfully, soaking rain that saw the beets swell up in size within a day or two. But I can’t be sure.
I have been a gardener for long enough to know I can’t beat nature, but like many gardeners I return to planting in the hope that the crops will eventuate if I care for them appropriately. I also know that every so often I manage to catch perfect growing conditions and magic happens alongside the mystery of it all.