Friday, March 26, 2010

Running to Win

It's alright, you can stop worrying. We got out of Milford the day before heavy rain washed out the road and trampers had to be helicoptered off the Routeburn track. And we had two glorious wet days where the side tramps were cancelled and we had to stay in the hut and play cards. Who could ask for anything more?
When we got home and up to my elbows in the sink on catch up, there was this terrible smell. I boiled the dishcloth and teatowels to no avail and was looking into the depths of the pot cupboard, perhaps there was a rotting dead mouse but no, mystery solved. Three jars of rotten tomatoes on the sill were getting a bit high. There's a layer of mould on the top you can just make out and the decomposition breaks down a coating around the seeds that inhibits germination. Next step rinse and count out onto squares of toilet paper, 5 by 5, 25 to a sheet. Come spring I will just cover the whole sheet with potting mix and so it begins again. Most of these are off to the Southern Seed Savers Network, (Otepoti Urban Organics). I need to build up a bit of seed credit.

Autumn has that strange synchronicity: you're both harvesting and preparing to plant again at the same time.

It's very dry, did I mention that our rainfall was 9 inches last year? I think that puts us on a par with desert, officially. Well I've been watering the strawberry runners to encourage them to root, and of course pinching out all but the first plant on each runner. Have double dug a bed with cow manure, for once they are established enough to move, and being forest dwellers at one time, they like pine needles. For both the offspring and the mother plant, the biggest factor in good production next year is thorough watering this autumn. I have noticed that this is also true for a lot of plants and here, it makes the difference between surviving the winter... or not.

Corn is finally ready and was worth the wait. It took about 25 days longer than the packet promised (115 days, not 90 which was probably optimistic). I put that down to growing into the dark side (fading light and heat) instead of into the height of summer. This is speculation not knowledge. I'm digressing because the photo below is not corn at all: florence fennel and I've cut it throught the middle to display the interior going up to seed. Seedlings sat in trays too long before being planted. This is a plant, like celery that likes a lot of water to be sweet and juicy; makes sense. Best way I've ever had it was sliced thinly, raw as a salad with smoked salmon. Short of such grand company, it's a good addition to coleslaw.

Final note. Here's Jude finishing the 2.5 km cross country run around the hills at Paerau. They have to stagger over 2 hay bales as they come up the final straight. There's no one else in the picture because he was so far in the lead, coming in first by a country mile. Running the race, it's a great metaphor for life. Run Jude, run.

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  1. hey congratulations Jude - well done! Miri it looks like you are as industrious as ever. I bet the helicopter ride off Milford would have been fun if you didn't have to do an awful lot of suffering first.

  2. Wow, Jude, you look great racing over the finish line, hooray!
    I'm simultaneously appalled and delighted by the rotting tomatoes. Who would have known you have to remove and inhibitory layer? Not me.
    Also, your post has answered why my strawberry plants are rather unproductive. The years of neglect, no replanting, no pine needles, and no watering have taken their toll.

  3. I agree with the others - Great running JUde!! What do you want for your birthday?

    Miri your tramp sounds like such fun. I really love reading about your gardening exploits. Hopefully we can come up soon and see for ourselves.