Saturday, September 3, 2011

Looking ahead

Spring has Sprung
The grass has ris
I wonder where the mower is

Definitely that time of year when gardeners' fingers begin to tingle with anticipation. The classic mistake in this climate is to whip out in some small weather hiatus and put stuff in that won't make the next cold snap, like seeds.  Having the very large glasshouse at my disposal is a rare luxury and gives me a toasty conservatory environment to play in and jumpstart the planting. The down side is the lack of the very weather you are keeping out. No rain to water and freshen, no variety of plant life and animals: slugs, birds and whitefly overwintering on the parsely  and I will miss it when we move.

Last week I planted the new potatoes for Christmas: Red King as always. I quickly found that it was quickest of all to spend a bit of time measuring and placing the potatoes carefully. Then it becomes a no-think factory-line-burial-programme without that 2cnd guessing over spacing. Because of the very wet season this year, and the subsequent late and frost damaged harvest, muddy to boot, the remaining potatoes haven't stored so well. It is an important job at this time of year to sort the seed potatoes from the pigs' dinners and perhaps a little later to dust the table potatoes with anti sprout powder for use through to December.
No one was more pleased than I was to see Jocylyn and David pull up in the house bus and report for potato duty in their overalls.
Job now done done with all the rotten potatoes out, so come time to cook tea you can put your hand in the sack with impunity.  Thank you, thankyou, thankyou.  They put aside 50 sacks of 20kg each of the small neatly formed seed potatoes. These won't jam in the planting tube as they rocket down into the ground and are for next years main crop.
Because there were less potatoes, that left a motley crew for me including what I call potato clowns:  the ducks, the snowmen, the love hearts, the lumpy bumpy misshapen, knobbed and larger ones. It will be really interesting to see what this years new potato crop is like.
I've covered the beds with black plastic to warm up, usually this is just for overnight frost protection but this year it will warm the beds up sooner. Farmer David has a wonderful intuitive knowledge for growing things and there will be reasons for this decision that I have yet to uncover.

Now I cleaned up this particular pile of sticks  and it is now a nicely tucked in compost heap as it should have been to begin with.   Embarrassing really. What did I think was going to happen over the winter?... because it sure didn't. The sunflower stalks are now snapped in to foot lengths and sandwhiched with a weed selection and  some cow muck; still waiting on a soak with the hose but it is too cold to have the water supply on at this spot just yet.

Here's the brag parsnip photo. Variey is Caversham from the Otepoti Seed Savers Network. Caversham now is typically a lower income area in Dunedin, but one with a rich history, rather nice siting for the sun in some places, close to everything and my impression is it still has a strong community.
There is a way to say it, 'Caversham' with the emphasis on the last syllable to make it sound a bit posher, if you are being silly.  Very appropriate for this lovely workhorse vegetable  to come from such a humble unpretentious background and to be a culinary star nonetheless. No hard core at all. They melt. The only reason I had to crop the photo was that the oven was so dirty in thebackground. I have overplanted on the lettuce front again. The seed went in before the big snow and I thought I had lost it. I had the punnets covered with frost cloth  which I've now moved to cover the emerging mesclun. I'm sure it helped.
Planted the tomatoes, a conservative trio of money maker, beefsteak and grosse lisse. Hope to have something to show for it soon.
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  1. So you're not doing the hair-loom tomaties this year then? Or do they go in later?
    We've just had a beautiful weekend of spring weather and plenty of opportunities to get our potatoes into our new raised beds...but we didn't, instead we went to the beach and ate pikelets. You only live once, after all.

  2. Good question Jen,I'm not doing heirlooms because I'll be handing the glasshouse over mid-season when we move.I thought I'd go for the easiest and most productive set up and heirlooms can be tricky. In my experience all homegrown tomatoes have so much more flavour anyway.