At the busiest time of year

NZ Lifestyle Block - - IN JANE’S GARDEN -

um­mer is fad­ing and the softer light of au­tumn is shin­ing. It’s the best time of year I reckon, although I think that about each sea­son as I live through its days. Au­tumn of­fers long warm days but with­out the hot edge of Fe­bru­ary, and cooler nights for deep and rest­ful sleep.

Out in the gar­den and fur­ther afield, there is a burst of blowsy growth high­lighted by late flow­er­ing dahlias, Ja­panese anemone, lilies, roses, ner­ines, salvias and Michael­mas daisies.

And weeds of course. I find the late sum­mer/early au­tumn weeds have a tough­ness about them which makes them harder to con­trol than soft spring growth. While I stop any seed­ing at the very least, I also know I can deal to them more thor­oughly in the win­ter clean-up. The swamp­ing ef­fect of full growth from de­sir­able plants helps to keep them in check as well.

Of­ten in au­tumn we’re away from home on horse trips into the moun­tains or out on some long stretch of wild coast blow­ing away any cob­webs, re­fresh­ing our spir­its and hav­ing fun. There tends to be a gath­er­ing el­e­ment to these trips and I come home with plants from a friend’s gar­den or the side of the road, and of­ten a cou­ple of sacks of sea­weed or an in­trigu­ing bit of drift­wood for dis­play.

Be­ing out in a wider en­vi­ron­ment is a source of men­tal stim­u­la­tion, spark­ing new ideas and de­vel­op­ing cur­rent themes of thought. It is rest­ful be­cause noth­ing we look at is part of our work load. Driv­ing along gives us the chance to look at other peo­ple’s gar­dens and farms, we get to see and talk with peo­ple out of our val­ley, and

we ap­pre­ci­ate the laugh­ter, chat and mu­tual chal­lenges of be­ing gar­den­ers and land own­ers.

Then it’s home again which is of­ten the best part of a hol­i­day. We try to al­low at least one or two days af­ter get­ting home be­fore swing­ing back into work mode so as not to feel swamped by all the work that has its hand up.

“Mow me, weed me, plant me, har­vest me!”

Then there are the phone mes­sages and the lo­cal com­mu­nity news to catch up on as we hap­pily set­tle back into the rhythms of home.

This time of year is also about the har­vest and it’s fan­tas­tic to be gath­er­ing in pro­duce such as main crop po­ta­toes, corn and but­ter­nuts, late fruit­ing nashi, hazel­nuts and wal­nuts, along with con­tin­u­ing the pre­serv­ing and dry­ing of fruit and veg­eta­bles.

I’ve dried beans, zuc­chini, toma­toes and onions in the past and not been happy with how they re­con­sti­tute. I can’t seem to get past the ex­pec­ta­tion that they will taste like fresh of­fer­ings. I’ve been ex­per­i­ment­ing, dry­ing ex­cess veg­eta­bles to the point of crispi­ness, then grind­ing ev­ery­thing to a pow­der. Tadaah! In­stant soup or bouil­lon for trav­el­ling and to use over win­ter, or I can add spoon­fuls to soups and stews to in­ten­sify taste and in­crease our min­eral in­take as well.

It’s time to de­cide what other green­ery you want to be eat­ing over the next months. If I was to em­bark on a cru­sade for good eat­ing my mantra could well be EAT HEAPS OF GREENS! And yel­lows and reds. I get so frus­trated with the cook­ing shows on tele­vi­sion when food gets tor­tured and fid­dled with, then topped with a curl of chives and a few shreds of green­ery. That is not enough to cre­ate bal­anced eat­ing, and why do we gar­den if it is not to pro­duce health-giv­ing food, heaps of it and ev­ery day!

Greens for the com­ing months in our house­hold in­clude pars­ley, rocket, co­rian­der, chervil, miner’s let­tuce, kale, bok choi, cos let­tuce, mizuna, sil­ver beet, broc­coli, cab­bages and other bras­si­cas. I want to be able to have a big hand­ful of chopped raw greens and a big pot of cooked greens as a main part of my meals. Grow­ing greens takes up way less room than many other crops and it is easy to keep plant­ing a few ev­ery week or so to en­sure con­ti­nu­ity of daily sup­ply.

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