We had a gorgeous day for our fresh food garden course. Most people who come on the course don’t have much vegetable gardening experience. Those who do, still leave inspired and motivated. The last course before Christmas is next Sunday (7th December) – still time to get things growing this season. There’s another course on Saturday 17th January 2009. You can book on line here. Let me know if it’s a gift and you’d like a card to give to the recipient. Coming on a course is your only opportunity to visit the kitchen garden.
In Wellington we’ve had warm weather and plenty of rain. The weeds are growing as fast as everything else. Some things need watering even after just a day without rain. Seedlings need to be shaded from the heat of the day. Raised beds tend to dry out fast, particularly when it’s sunny and breezy so that’s the first place crops wilt. I’ve seen some cabbage white butterfly so I’ve sprayed my brassicas with Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) spray – an organic spray containing a microorganism that kills the caterpillars. It’s sold as ‘Dipel’ in New Zealand and you need to spray every couple of weeks, plus every time it rains.
My Dad has helped me prune espaliered apples, pears and triple-cordon goosegogs. The apple tree in the picture was planted three years ago. If you hanker after an espalier, talk to Sarah Frater at The Edible Garden in Palmerston North as she’ll have the right root stocks for you. You’ll need to wait until winter to buy and plant them.
Spring crops are growing well with plenty of spinach and lettuce. I pulled some beautiful radishes ‘cherrybelle’ that we sowed on the fresh food garden course six weeks ago. I wouldn’t buy a radish but these make a colouful and spicy addition to a salad. I’ve picked a delicious spring cabbage plus some snow peas, spring onions and my first strawberry this week. It’s still an ideal time to plant most crops but you’ll need to keep them moist.
Mibuna is a Chinese green that’s done well in the winter and hasn’t gone to seed. It’s milder than its cousin Mizuna and smooth leaved. You can get some seed for it from Kings Seeds. They will send you a voucher for two free packets of seeds if you buy their 2008 catalogue for $7.50 and quote “Kings Seeds since 1978”. A packet of seed costs less than $3 and will give you more than a year’s worth of plants.
I’ve been reading Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High. Not exactly a gardening book, but universally useful advice for improving relationships at work, home and in your community. Makes for slightly painful reading when they point out all the things you’re doing wrong, but it’s written in an approachable style and I’ve applied the advice with some success already. When I finish that I graduate to Crucial Confrontations: Tools for Resolving Broken Promises, Violated Expectations, and Bad Behavior. Maybe by that stage Santa will have brought me Chris Fortune’s book Pick, Preserve, Serve: Enjoy Local and Home-Grown Produce Year-Round for some light relief.