Grow & Tell

NZ Lifestyle Block - - Contents - JANE BELLERBY

2 great crops you need to take care of

Cold, wet, icy, windy, dark, stormy days and nights. Crisp, sparkling, clear, still. Win­ter adds it­self up in any num­ber of ways and there’s noth­ing we can do about the weather ex­cept wear the right clothes, the ones that keep us amused, feel­ing good, warm and func­tional.

Hav­ing good wet weather gear seems like a no-brainer but it’s some­thing I’ve never quite mas­tered. In­stead, when the rain pours down I drag on an op shop wool coat, my Dads’ old swanni or the gabar­dine coat fall­ing into moth holes, and top them off with a va­ri­ety of broad­brimmed hats. When the first one is soaked I choose an­other out­fit but usu­ally I don’t have to be out for hours and hours in bad weather. I don’t gar­den in the rain but I do feed out, gather veges, move the chooks, shift elec­tric fences, res­cue wash­ing, tie up the dog, and take care of my out­side work.

Hats with a brim are nec­es­sary be­cause wet glasses are hope­less. Yes, I do have over-trousers and a real rain­coat but I tend to save them for horse trips, or to­tally foul weather when I re­ally want or need to stay dry. Op shop, clothes swap or handme-down cloth­ing is much cheaper and more fun. I can man­u­fac­ture whole new re­al­i­ties for my­self, let my mind wan­der through the cen­turies and think of other women who’ve lived and worked their lives on the land: me­dieval herb mis­tress, stone age gath­erer, Scot­tish peas­ant or who­ever I want to ‘be’! I’m al­ways thank­ful for the warm dry home I re­turn to when I get truly sod­den.

Ap­pre­ci­a­tion is key to our lives as we grow and tend our gar­dens and the wider prop­erty. No mat­ter how much phys­i­cal se­cu­rity, money, close fam­ily and friends and sup­port­ive com­mu­nity we have, life is

bound to deal out some tough stuff. Shit hap­pens. When it does we can be grate­ful - yet again - for all the good in our lives which helps us through the hard times. Life, death, it’s all part of the con­tin­uum we’re on and so far no-one has got out alive. We may as well be grate­ful and joy­ful when life is good be­cause it gives us strength when hard times come by.

It’s the same in the gar­den as the win­ter clean-up goes on. What we do or don’t do now will show up next spring and sum­mer. I find it a sim­ple and happy time of year as I pare the gar­den back to ba­sics and pre­pare the ground for its sum­mer full­ness. Cut­ting down old growth, di­vid­ing peren­ni­als, be­gin­ning new projects or dig­ging out tough old weeds will all con­trib­ute to next sum­mer’s abun­dance and beauty.


Win­ter work in the veg­etable area is some­times con­fined to spot­light­ing plants in the dark at the end of a cold day. It’s def­i­nitely a time to have paths work­ing well so they are safe to walk on in all weath­ers, es­pe­cially if you’re rush­ing at the end of the day. Non-slip sur­faces such as saw­dust, bark, card­board, shin­gle and grass all work well here in our wet con­di­tions.

Stored and pre­served foods shine over the win­ter months. We eat a lot of pump­kin soup, roast gar­lic, onion, tomato and herb pastes, sauces baked with pota­toes, car­rots, parsnip, and fresh gar­den greens. Our usual win­ter green sta­ples of broc­coli, mizuna, cos let­tuce, pars­ley, kale, and sil­ver beet are a daily de­light.

I think hav­ing things to look for­ward to is part of the joy of life. Daily good eat­ing and the rich­ness of good friends and com­mu­nity, then less fre­quent joys to plan for such as a horse trip out on the Kahu­rangi Coast with friends, or sit­ting down to the first as­para­gus meal of spring.

Bok choi and mizuna for win­ter sal­ads. Plant­ing gar­lic.

Pickles for win­ter meals

of bread and cheese.

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