I’m happy to welcome a new tool to the family, one I have been wanting for a while. I bought it as an ‘edging shovel’ but it seems more like a edging spade to me. It’s much easier to use than a normal digging spade – heavier and more stable to stand on, and easy to get a standard depth. Hopefully this will help to keep the grass out of the garden.
I’m sure that grass all over the world prefers to grow into the garden where it can avoid being mowed, but here in NZ we have an African grass known as ‘Kikuyu Grass’. It seems to be able to survive anywhere, creating a springy green mat even in a dry hot summer on sand. It’s useful in paddocks to provide summer grass for stock, although it’s tough and not that good to eat. And it can spread across a meter or more in days. Left on its own it will bring down most garden plants and even shrubs. The only natural thing that knocks it back is heavy shade or frosty weather.
C keeps it under control by mowing it into a lawn, but what happens is that the lawn gets bigger and the garden shrinks. My rock and wood borders leave overgrown areas which are hazards for the lawnmower. Now as we wait for a new lawnmower part to come from Italy, I am trying this 45 degree edging procedure described by Meg Ruffman.
It has been a beautiful Autumn weekend. We slept well in the cool night, enjoyed the first Sugar Baby watermelon with grapes and zucchini fritters for lunch, and felt very lucky to be here. Monarch butterflies are floating around and the bees are enjoying the late summer flowers. The vegetable garden is doing as well as can be expected, so I concentrated on planting the first of my bulb orders in this perfect sunny weather.
Continue reading “Bulbs and bionics”
Akita is definitely badly behaved, even more so than last year. In the torrential rain this weekend I did find that the flopping upside down flowers provide an exotic rain shelter for bumble bees. By contrast, even after 4 inches of rain last week the Chat Noir Dahlias looked pretty good – just a few spots on some of the petals.
I was surprised the other morning as I walked around the garden listening and looking to see what the bees were enjoying most this week. Hundreds of bees were leaving and returning to the hive, ignoring the blazing mass of goldenrod, dahlias, coreopsis, and heleniums I have planted, not to mention the masses of wild carrot and thistles which have edged in to take advantage of the new compost.
The blue mist and the sedums down the driveway were happily filled with bumble bees, but not many honeys. When I arrived at the Louisa plum trees the reason was clear, fruit was the breakfast choice. On the tree and on the ground, the overripe and bird-pecked plums were full of bees. Not a wasp in sight, only bees.
I haven’t seen this before, but several things are different this year. We have had unusual cold weather – it’s now been now confirmed that it has been 1 degree colder than the norm this summer. We also have seen none of the Vespula wasps which often infest the area at this time of year. And it’s the first year that the Louisas have had a good crop of fruit.
Later in the day, as C was cooking second breakfast, the bees were having lunch in the asters.
I have a quite a few dahlias now, I keep digging them up and spreading them around. These two are new though, and I thought they were particularly pretty and not quite so loud as many of the others. Dahlia ‘Profundo’ is the closer one, and ‘Dark Horse’ is in the background. They are paired up with Salvia leucantha and Indigo Spires.
Thanks to Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for hosting IAVOM every week.
I’ve got myself in a state where I don’t like my photos any more, so I’m using C’s photos until that changes.
The long hot days of summer have not really materialised this year, and a flock of baby crickets in the bed last night signal the end wIll be starting soon. The weather has been patchy and cool for what should have been the warmest months. We have had mists and rains, while the East coast has been verging on drought. Never-the-less it was a treat to have enough water to water plants that needed it, and there is always something that likes the weather.
Many of our fruit trees are just starting to really produce, including the grape vine, and the cool weather doesn’t seem to have worried them. The plums have been fantastic this year, and I made a beautiful jelly yesterday from the Louisa plums which had fallen off the tree or cracked in the rain. The Satsuma plums have produced heavily and don’t seem to crack. They are delicious dried so we have had the driers running flat out. I’ve made verjuice with the grapes, and it’s lovely.
The misty weather caught us out in a couple of shortcuts we thought we could get away with in our frantic haste this spring. One was to to plant an early Agria potato crop using potatoes left from last year, the other was to re-use last year’s tomato frames without moving them. All spring and early summer we had lots of yummy chips, but a couple weeks ago the potatoes all got blight and had to be dug up, including the Red Fantasy (strange name but a beautiful potato) which could have produced more.
Everything is late, with our first pick of enough tomatoes for sauce only 2 weeks ago, and chillies and peppers just starting to flower. The tomatoes are showing signs of blight, but if we can only have a stretch of warm dryish weather we can still get a crop I think. The parsnips are only small still, however they can last well into winter.
Kumara and Zucchini are doing well, and the watermelons in the greenhouse are getting good sized melons, but our most successful crop this year has been micro/mini greens. We started growing these in the greenhouse in raised beds last Autumn , and it worked so well that we built some more outside. In the photo you can see a newly planted bed and an older one.
We have had fabulous salads all summer with baby amaranth, radish, beetroot, chicory, lettuce, basil, corn salad, coriander, mustard, sorrel, purple cabbage, and pea ‘feathers’. It would be nice to cut them every day, but a big container full lasts all week if kept in the fridge. It does use a lot of seed, so I have been rescuing some of the mini greens when they are finished harvesting and growing them on for seed. This looks a bit messy in the garden, and I have to fight the birds for the brassica seeds, but I have been successful so far with mustard, cabbage, radish, coriander, ruby chard, and beetroot.
Just Joey is just such a lovely and unusual rose, and although it’s not turning into a big bush, it’s in a tough place beside the driveway, continually battling off the attentions of a purple penstemon on one side and a rosemary on the other. Not to mention the weeds and grasses.
On the other side of the driveway is Bridal Bouquet, one of our first hydrangeas, and one that was bought from a nursery rather than from a cutting, so I know what it’s called.
Cupani Sweet Peas and Hidcote Lavender, both deep purple but the Lavender like velvet and the sweet peas like silk.
We are visiting C’s dad and it’s colder here than at home. Because New Zealand is long and narrow North to South, travelling even a few hours by car changes the climate. It’s rainy and windy, a good day to stay inside and take photos.