July IN THE VEGE GARDEN WITH JANE
• Cutting back and clearing out spent growth gives us the chance to see the bare bones of the garden and it’s easier to make changes.
• Plant out comfrey roots around the drip line of orchard trees and be very sure you never want to move them! We have 30-year-old comfrey that is regularly grazed and still it grows, which in the right place is a good thing but it can be frustrating otherwise.
• Miserable days are an open invitation to read books, sit by the fire and do a spot of garden dreaming.
• Have a bonfire, invite the neighbours and bring out the marshmallows, the foilwrapped potatoes etc, and celebrate the season. It cleans up garden waste as well if it is dry enough.
• Hungry birds around? Consider planting mid-winter berryproducing shrubs for your own pleasure and food for the feathered ones. Check the plants are not on any noxious weed list.
• Chop back excessive vine growth from last summer to keep the likes of wisteria and jasmine under control. Nail back any boards on the house they may have started ripping off! • Continue the winter clean-up and perennial division.
• Watch out for and mark emerging bulb shoots.
• Prune fruit trees or get someone in to teach and help if you are new to the land.
Winter in the garden is a great time to make changes and work on projects. Last winter I took to the garden and spent many hours on a precision weed clean-up, clear-out, cut-back and change-around, starting with my head space. I stopped part-time work as a hospital aid at our local Golden Bay Community Hospital. Ten years of night shifts had taken their toll: I was well and truly burnt-out and it was time for changes, some of which my patient partner had been hoping would happen for a long time.
So I gardened as I struggled with a few mental health issues: the ones about letting down my work mates, not bringing in as much household income, and not liking my job any more. Letting go of the exhaustion took a while. I had some excellent counselling, support from fantastic friends, and realised yet again that when I let go of old stuff, clarity is able to come into my life.
I dug and weeded and changed the garden around, and practised gratitude. I love being at home full-time. This time around, living a more frugal lifestyle is so much easier: no house or business building, no land development, no growing children, and few wwoofers. Maintenance yes, but we have plenty of resources after nearly 30 years of developing our gardens, orchards and the surrounding land.
Part of the sort-out was demolishing the old asparagus bed in the flower garden. Most of the 20-year-old plants had died out and a new crop is now established in the vegetable garden. Thanks to the tractor and its front-end loader, the corrugated iron sidings of the bed slid out easily and it didn’t take long to move the one big shrub, a crimson