Summer is almost here! It’s the last day of calendar spring here in New Zealand and things are growing like crazy. Join us for a look at our garden in our springtime seasonal gardening update on what’s happening and growing (or not!) in our own home garden. Plus, other spring news from the Green in Real Life family.
Springtime in the Garden
Ah spring! I love the blossoming and buzzing of springtime after our dark and dreary winter. The warmer sunnier days are welcome, too. Soggy stormy days, not so much. It’s such a busy time, with a long chore list of clean-up, weeding as everything starts to go wild, propagating, and seasonal swaps in the edible garden. I’ve been kind of slack about staying on top of the chores this spring. Other projects have been occupying my time and the weather has been hit-and-miss on garden plans. But still, it grows on. Even if it’s a little weedy or messy at times. Here’s a peek at the good and the bad from our spring season this year.
Growing and Giving
Seed Stash Review and Top-Up Orders
For the first time in ages, I didn’t do a top-up order this spring. My existing seed stash got a major top-up last spring and I still have lots that need using before they get too old. Most properly stored seeds will reliably germinate for several years, but their viability declines with age and storage conditions. I did boost the stash with saved seeds, including some from a heritage pumpkin from the neighbours that’s currently growing like crazy in the garden. Since I wasn’t buying seeds, I also splurged on a few seedlings. So hard to resist!
Homegrown and Homemade Garden Goodies
Although sharing excess fresh fruits, veggies, and herbs is our usual way of growing and giving, we decided to make a big batch of limoncello with some of our abundant homegrown lemons for holiday gifting. You can see a peek at our homemade limoncello in progress on our Instagram. It’s been nicknames lockdown limoncello… Let’s hope that moniker is a 2020 limited edition. Haha! The citrus blossomed abundantly this spring and the bees have been loving it. The next batch of ingredients is already in progress with little fruitlets forming up nicely.
Seasonal Success Stories and Top Crops
In exciting news, the Belgian fence espalier is really coming into its own and taking shape. It’s entering the third year and has been putting out all sorts of blossoms and fruit, although I’ll likely heavily thin the latter. We haven’t let the young trees fruit while they’ve been developing, but they’ll be able to handle a few taste testers this season. The espalier details will be shared here in the future, but it’s blog post that’s taken several seasons of planning, planning, pruning, and patience in the making.
We also have our first few cherries ripening and lots of plums plumping up. The persimmon flowered and should set fruit for the first time this year too, fingers crossed. The berries are also going well. Maybe a little too well in some areas as the brambles keep trying to take over the entire garden. Non invasive indeed… Hmm. The first crop of strawberries is ripe and with only Humphrey sniffing around for goodies (our late senior dog Oli was an absolute berry fiend) we find ourselves in the unfamiliar position of having an excess of strawberries for the first time. The rest of the brambles, currents, and blueberries are still at different stages of blossoming, developing, and ripening.
Seasonal Failures and Flop Crops
Despite my best efforts at timed winter/spring spraying, we still have leaf curl on the peaches and nectarines. The varieties are all also supposedly semi-resistant, but one of the trees is definitely looking stragglier than its neighbours. Oh well. Such is the way of garden life. Can’t win them all. And on the subject of losing, there’s garlic. Once again, despite new bulbs, a different growing location, and early planting, I had to pull the garlic due to heavy rust. I might just give it a miss for a few years.
We also decided to relocate our young avocado trees. They were very unhappy after some extra cold winter weather and disliked the cold, wet, clay soil in that part of the garden despite their semi-raised plantings. The existing trees are now recuperating in grow bags (fingers crossed) and two new avocados have been planted in another (hopefully) more conducive area. The’re new position will also be aesthetically nicer through the cold months since they’re in a less obtrusive position for us and for the neighbours when covered in frost protection.
Preparing for Summer
In anticipation of a predicted hot and dry summer, we installed weeping irrigation hoses in the raised garden beds before the summer veggies went in. It should (hopefully) be a water and time saver, and better for plant health too.
The transplanted summer veggies are developing well. We have the first wee little capsicums forming up and the tomatoes are starting to blossom. The direct sown seeds have been more problematic. Our neighbours cats keep digging up the bare parts of the beds. Sigh. I’ve installed some emergency string lines around them to (hopefully) deter our visitors. I think I’ll break down and buy some seedlings to buffer their access to bare soil and/or pin plastic barrier fencing across the tops of the beds until things get a chance to sprout. The latter worked a treat on seeded grass patches when Humphrey was a puppy. Any other (kind, but deterring) tips for cats? I’ve found sprinkled coffee grounds useful for cats in the past, but not on areas where I’m seeding since it can impeded germination.
Humphrey doing well and has adapted to being a solo dog after Oli’s passing during the winter. He’s getting dog social time with playmates and pals which has been helpful, too, but we’re not ready to expand the family just yet. We’d like to let him settle into his own path before deciding what might be right, and our hearts are still healing, too. He’s been loving a few mini road trips (like the garden walk below) and soaking up the sweet smells of spring.
I find spring weather just about perfect (when it’s not raining…) for enjoying outdoor time with Humphrey. The temperatures are warm enough to be comfortable, but not so hot as to be racing the clock on our fun before the day heats up. Our days are already stretching out and heating up though. Summer and then Christmas (eek!) will be here in no time. In some ways, it feels like only yesterday that we were prepping the summer garden for my parents’ visit. And in other ways, the normalcy of life last summer seems like a lifetime away after everything that’s happened in 2020. Let’s hope that 2021 is a better year all around.