Red tulips in pots

Tulips, Pumpkins, and Rats

Coming back after 3 weeks away,the daffodils are just starting to come out and the tulips were ready to be moved into a sunny spot to flower, so I think all I missed was 3 weeks of rain and cold. The tulips which were either red or dark purple last year seem to have made a few yellow or yellow and red ones this year. I pulled most of the flower stems off before they could set seed, so I’m confused. I suppose this must mean that some of the little bulbs were from seeds rather than clones? Or more likely some of the mixed batch I planted in the garden several years ago made their way back into the fridge with the potted ones.

The grass is a bit long and the weeds have grown and the citrus has continued to ripen.
And the rats had moved into the hut and had a party, leading to lots of laundry and cleaning of drawers. For some reason they chewed off a large chunk of the rubber seal at the bottom of the door of the little fridge. The fridge was open and empty so I’m not sure what the point of this was.

image Several of the pumpkins (winter squash) which looked perfect on top are going mouldy on the bottom, and the rats have eaten through the skin of another one, so it’s time to make another batch of pumpkin ‘soup’ for the freezer – what we make is more like pumpkin mash which can be made into soup with the addition of milk or stock.
These were self sown from the compost last year, they popped up with the tomato seedlings and I let them grow around the tomatoes. Not ideal for either of them really, I was continually battling back the pumpkin and pushing it off the tomatoes. In the end however the pumpkins did grudgingly take off over the lawn and down the bank and did much better than the year before, probably by stealing food and water from the tomatoes. In fact I’m surprised there were any seeds in the compost to grow from they did so badly the year before. They seem to have stayed true to the type which I think was Ironbark, as I see I have a half used seed pack of these.

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Cold Spring

The photo is from September, showing where the peas are.

We were away last weekend. Back in the city I made about 100 small paper pots and planted them with Florida F1 Sweetcorn. It’s been cold and hailing last week, but many of them have come up as I was able to give them turns on the heat pad. They are up to 2 inches high now, not even a week later. My plan is to plant them in the garden below the greenhouse.

I plan to do this for the flour and polenta corn as well, since over the past years I have sometimes had to replant entire crops. The earth is wet here at this time of year, and in some of the beds there are still clumps of clay. I will make more paper pots tonight.

This year we have peas next to the Louisa plum.  The soil was nice and friable and I spread lime around them. Carouby mange tout with their purple flowers were the strongest growers again, they have tiny peas and  lots of lovely purple flowers on them now.  The sweeter sugar snaps have been slow and needed 2 sowings, nd the normal peas even worse with about 8 plants coming up out of a whole packet.
Parsnips and carrots are up in the same area.

Tomatoes are in front of the greenhouse and in the top garden right side this year.
I will have to draw out some garden sections so I can refer to them by name. The garden below has been dug but needs hoeing.

I also transplanted another batch of tomatoes into 3″ square pots last weekend. These are the Orange high lycopene ones for eating raw. This year I have tried Golden Grape, Gold Medal, Moonglow, and Elbe from Bristol seeds in Whanganui. We will see what grows well and what tastes good. I have put one of each in the greenhouse an the rest will go in up top next week. I think they are better grown into at least 5″ pots in shelter.

The Beefsteak, Albenga Ox, and Brandywine tomatoes went in 50 x 2 weeks ago, the rest 3 weeks ago. The weather has been insanely windy and quite cold as it was last year at this time.

We used a different type of staking system, which we tried last year for one row. This is a long row of Macrocarpa stake triads connected by wire. This is what I used for the peas this year, covered with netting to protect from birds, which I removed yesterday as the peas were tangling into it.

We also used stakes to fence the tomatoes with wind cloth, thank goodness. More strong gales and rain today and it’s cold enough that we needed the heater last night and it would be nice now as well.

The tomatoes that went outside were a good size, all in 5 or 8 inch pots. We have lost one so far, one of the early batch before we had the complete wind cloth fence up. The bigger ones have been strung up with green jute twine. The others need to go up soon they are starting to grow lying down.

In with the toms I planted a few zephyr and Italian courgettes and some cucumbers. They are all a little miserable, and I’ve lost one of each, but they are alive and one is trying to make a tiny zephyr zucchini.

In the greenhouse I dug all the beds and planted 3 toms, Brandywine mix and Beefsteak in them. They have developed small tomatoes in the last 2 weeks. They were very dry yesterday after 2 weeks without water. I also put in a few of each pepper type – Ancho, Little Hat, Bell Colours, and Topepo and some sugar baby watermelons, tomatillos, and eggplant. They are all doing fine. I have planted some banana melons but they haven’t come up yet.

Miners lettuce Claytonia perfoliata

First Feed of Miner’s Lettuce this year

I love this winter salad green which seems to pop up in Winter the way it’s relative Common Purslane pops up in Summer, except that for us the summer version is much more ubiquitous (often called a weed, but also very nice in salads).

Miner’ lettuce pretty much stays where you put it, and can even die out if it gets too dry or overrun by weeds. If it’s growing well it’s thick – to harvest it you can just cut it off with scissors far enough above the ground to avoid any dirt. Claytonia perfoliata is its proper name.

Although it’s native to Canada where I grew up, I had never noticed it as a plant or a vegetable until I came to New Zealand. I imagined that the name ‘Miner’s Lettuce’ came from the shape of the leaves which are like a tiny shovel, but according to Wikipedia the leaves were a source of vitamin C for the California Gold Miners hence the name.

Also on the plate is another yummy veg, what we call ‘smashed parrot’, parsnips and carrots boiled together and mashed lightly with butter.