Getting Our Hands Dirty

It is gratifying to see lots of seedlings poking their heads out of the soil in plant pots and garden beds. I started planting our autumn/ winter garden very late this year, and hope we’ll still get some vegetables to harvest despite my tardiness. Noticing how late it was, I compromised and bought some seedlings for broccoli, spinach and swiss chard at the local hardware store. All seem to be doing well in the garden. I direct seeded two kinds of radishes (cherrybelle and black spanish), bull’s blood beets, turnips, miner’s lettuce and corn salad. In pots, I’ve started cilantro, garden cress, red cabbage, and two kinds of lettuce (“Asian red” and “Winter”). We’ve not tried growing miner’s lettuce and winter lettuce before, so it will be interesting to see how these cool-season greens fare in our garden.


Kevin has been digging potatoes, and I’ve been grubbing around for kumara to add sweetness to our dinners. We are still harvesting carrots, salsify, and late zucchini, as well as our trusty welsh bunching onions, collard greens and a bit of kale. It’s an interesting game, juggling baby and garden, but I’m enjoying getting my hands back in the dirt as much as possible. It’s fun to watch Owen’s growing fascination with animals, leaves, rain drops and the wonderful natural world all around him. While one part of me is dreading the destructive force of a crawly/toddling little human in our garden, another part of me thrills at the thought of him enjoying his early contact with earth, mud, slugs, and even his mother’s precious vegetable seedlings! My brother, sister and I grew up around gardens, and I think we were very lucky. I know it took a lot of patience from our parents and grandparents as they taught us the right way to pick ripe produce and to help out in the garden without leaving a trail of destruction behind us.

What else is going on around here?

I’ve taken over the ordering for our local whole foods co-op. This means gathering up order details from all the members and submitting them to the wholesaler. It’s actually been a frustrating business so far due to our phone line being dead for over a week while I was trying to take orders. (It got fried up in an electrical storm!) Still, it’s given me the chance to network with some really interesting people, and it feels right to be sharing the responsibility for this valuable service rather than leaving all the work to someone else.

On the “to do” list:
Plant onion seeds so that the seedlings will be ready to set out in the garden in a couple of months.
Plant broad beans. Better hurry, or they won’t get a decent start before the cold weather sets in.
I have made a huge pile of grass clippings, and Kevin is wondering if we might use them to attempt to grow a winter potato crop in a large barrel in a warm sheltered spot. I’ll be sure to report on anything that develops on this front!

2 Responses to “Getting Our Hands Dirty”

  1. Robbyn says:

    It’s great to hear about your garden update! Owen has a real advantage getting that baby-eye view of his growing world…what a gift 🙂

  2. Maryann says:

    I always look forward to your posts. I’m forever nostalgic for NZed, wishing I could have emigrated. Amazing to read that you plant out onion seedlings in mid-winter. Of course I realize that winter in the far north is not like winter here in Pennsylvania. It sounds like your winter is more like that in Oregon, where one can plant Brassica in fall, to harvest in spring. By ‘broad beans’ do you mean Fava beans? We can’t grow them, or chick peas or lentils, in our climate.

    I wonder if the potatoes might need more sun than they will receive during winter. What is day length like in winter for you? [I remember being in Christchurch in January 1985 and being amazed at how long the days were: 5AM – 10PM.]

    The Wisteria and Lilac are in bloom here. I set out Zinnias and Petunias today, since the forecast looks OK, despite the official FFD being 9 days hence. Our tomatoes are hardened and ready to plant, but I’m waiting until the weekend, to save them a few chilly nights.

    We’ve been gorging on Asparagus for almost 4 weeks, the only fresh produce (besides eggs) right now. We’re a couple weeks away from our first salad. The broccoli seedlings (but not the cabbage) all disappeared one night: rabbit. We found the hole in the fence and patched it, then set out a couple of test seedlings before planting out our chard, kohlrabi and collards. I’ve already seeded the broccoli bed to alfalfa, and will try again with a fall planting, which usually does well (less brown bead than the spring crop).

    We’re considering taking the plunge to growing our own wheat, starting with laying in a store of whole wheat berries and doing a test bed to get our feet wet.