Grow & Tell
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.
IN THE VEGETABLE GARDEN
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.
Pickles for winter meals
of bread and cheese.