Winter in the Garden and Other Family Updates

Frost on strawberry plants in the winter garden
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It’s the last day of calendar winter here in New Zealand, and I’m looking forward to warmer weather ahead! Take a virtual visit to our home garden with our 2020 winter news, behind the scenes happenings, and family updates from Green in Real Life.

Saying Farewell to Sweet Senior Oli

We usually give a furfamily update at the end of our posts, but sadly the biggest news of our winter has been that sweet senior dog Oli has passed away. As shared on our social media, we had to say farewell to our beloved boy in July after fourteen beautiful years of love and companionship. We’re all broken hearted. Humphrey had a difficult time early on, but has adjusted to being a solo dog and only pet. It’s been my pleasure sharing a little of him with you over the years. Thanks for loving him with us.

Winter in the Garden

It’s been a quiet winter in the garden, mostly working to keep things tidy as time and weather allows. We’re still using the same hoop method for covering the raised vegetable gardens as last winter, and it’s working wonderfully. Elsewhere, my experiments with liquid frost cloth were not so great. We’ve had some especially cold nights this winter. The young garden has coped decently with the freezing temperatures and hard frosts, but my avocados are currently looking rather sad, despite reverting to emergency frost cloth coverings. They didn’t appreciate our dip to -5C. We’ve lost most of the leaves and will wait until spring to see how damaged the stems are when we remove their fixed frost covers.

Frost on avocado leaves in the winter garden

Growing and Giving

After clearing out and sharing pumpkins, kumara, and other lingering summer crops with our neighbours, the winter garden has taken over production.

Bouncing between cold and warm has some of my winter veggies, like broccoli, producing flowers almost as quickly as they start to form the florets. Our neighbours bunnies are loving it, and if I’m honest, I don’t mind. Broccoli isn’t a favourite, but we are limited on what we can grow in the heart of winter and I like filling the beds.

I’m still working my way through the last of the stored squash and pumpkins. I normally bake, cube, and freeze pumpkin for savoury cooking, but I’ve been particularly enjoying experimenting with different pumpkin baking recipes recently. Suggestions welcome! There’s plenty more pumpkin to go.

Baking loves and scones with home grown pumpkin

Although winter has been much more normal than our autumn lockdown bubble, recent changes in New Zealand’s COVID-19 policies and recommendations have led to a completely different form of sharing around the neighbourhood. I’ve been busy sewing masks for friends and family. A great way to reduce my fabric stash (and excuse for more fabric shopping…) and gift it forward a little.

Seasonal Success Stories and Top Crops

Winter isn’t my favourite time in the garden when it comes to veggies, but shout out to the citrus for being a standout crop during the otherwise dull drudgery of winter. Our young lemons had a stellar crop this year, and we’re currently ageing our first experimental batch of limoncello with a blend of peels from three different lemon varieties. Fingers crossed! I’m using an adaptation of This NZ Life’s limoncello recipe and instructions

Winter lemons ripe on tree

The other star of our winter garden is the coriander. It’s one of my favourite herbs and, with careful planning and some protection, it grows beautifully in our covered beds straight through winter. I succession plant, but it’s much slower in winter and the shoulder seasons, which give a long window of harvesting before it starts to thicken or flower. In summer, it a battle against bolting even with slower varieties.

Seasonal Failures and Flop Crops

In addition to my flowering broccoli for the neighbourhood bees and bunnies, we’ve been having a harder time than usual with slugs and bugs this winter. Since I don’t like to spray, they’re particularly annoying. It’s not a flop exactly, but the amount of time I spend carefully washing lettuce makes me want to remove all ruffling varieties from my planting list forever! Ugggh. 

Preparing for Spring

Elsewhere in the main garden, everything has been dormant winter sprayed, pruned, and tidied in preparation for the spring growing season. The first plum and apricot blossoms are already blooming. I’m a bit slow getting things planted in glasshouse this year as I wanted to do a full empty and clean-out first and have been stuck waiting for dry weather, but have decided to just press on and shuffle the trays around when the weather decides to play nicely. Spring is on the way!

Bee on plum blossom

Whether you are heading into the flowers of spring or the beautiful colours of autumn, I hope the weather smiles on you and your garden.  Drop by our Instagram to check in on how things are growing in our garden, and I hope to see you again here on the blog sometime soon.

Green in Real Life winter 2020 garden update and family news

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