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Kays garden – January

Kay’s Garden January 2014

I love this time of the year, not only do we get to begin the full on summer harvest, we also get to be putting aside our  seed for next year. I really love that feeling of completing the cycle of saving the seed and knowing that it is that cycle, that ongoing cycle that creates the process of co evolution, the process that means we are connected to our ‘place’, and our ‘place’ is connected to us, and we communicate in many ways and create an ecology ……..that is what creates strength and resilience and health and that super alive feeling that one feels in these special places of huge connection and energy. These are actually places where the sun’s energy is being harvested and absorped, and recycled and gifted to the soil microbes by the plant roots , and recycled and used so many times by the diverse range of elements in the system that the energy exchanges and the life happening are palpable.

We’re eating our early White Rocombole garlic, outstanding cultivar from the henry Harrington Collection, that was harvested and dried and ready to eat in mid November. Our early Fred’s dwarf beans are finished now, and the White Scotch runner bean in full swing. I love runner beans, if picked early they are the most juicy tender and flavoursome of all beans. White Scotch are my current favourites, they came to this land with our Scottish forebears. I grow them for green beans, shellout beans and dry soup beans. I have begun pickling beans too, to store the surplus and provide ferments with our meals. We’ve been eating Henry’s Dwarf Bush tomatoes for 4 weeks or so now too. They are definitely worth putting under a cloche and getting them ripe in November through to the main crop tomatoes.

We haven’t had the seed available for two years now but it will be available in the new catalogue out in February, we’re processing it already, and the seed looks beautiful.


Xmas lunch at the beach in Wairoa was all from the garden. I always make potato salad, just like mum’s (minus the condensed milk salad dressing), and I grow Yellow Fir potatoes to make that with because they are ready right on Xmas every year.  (Other waxy great potatoes for potato salad are Karoro, Pink Fir, Whataroa, and Chatham Islands.) They are good croppers of super waxy delicious potatoes . I always make stuffed eggs as well, another dish my mother always made for Xmas and this is a great egg time of the year, or it should be. If your chickens have stopped laying already they needed more minerals to keep their bodies mineralied and able to lay for far a longer. We find adding chicken minerals to the their food every day helps keep them laying, in fact ensures they continue laying for far longer than without. Taiamai made hams for us for Xmas from our own pigs and they were a great success , and the tomato salad from our own hennery dwarf bush cherries and basil was perfect .

The first sweet corn isn’t far away, I planted Blue Aztec this year,and the  Bloody Butcher flour corn is already over 2m tall …. The hulless barley and the Essene flaxseed will be ready to harvest in a couple of weeks, and I’m already planning for my winter garden.

Following the Koanga Garden Planner , means that the quarter of the garden where the flaxseed and barley is coming out of, will be the section that becomes my winter heavy feeders. If I want to ensure I don’t have a huge vege gap in Autumn early winter then I must plant seed now of Brussels sprouts Fillbasket and my first kale and collards. In Northland and other subtropical areas it is not yet time to plant these crops but here and in colder areas it is.

I’m also planting successions of heat loving summer greens like Tampala and Magenta Spreen, both of which we’re eating now but they will not last until march without replanting, along with lettuces which will need planting in the shade. I’ll also plant a tripod of late beans for fun now and also a late courgette plant or two. Crookneck squash is my overall favourite

My favourite thing now though is the seed I’m putting away for next season.

I have the best of the Early White rocombole, the best of the flowering shallots, which came in this week, as well as the potato onions, and the Yellow Fir potatoes. The Southland Sno peas are finished and they will come out with the pea pods I saved for seed. I’ll leave a few Fred’s Dwarf beans in with their pods so I have seed of those and a few lettuces can be easily left in for seed as well. All of these things are self fertile and easy to save the seed of. The peas and bean seed along with the onions ad garlic will be stored in a brown paper bag in a dry place and the potatoes seed in an onion sack in a dry light place.


In the forest garden I have two muscovies on nests, and lots of very long seeding grass which we’re about to cut to make a lot of excellent mulch for all the trees and the perennial vegetable bed around the vegetable garden. We  harvested our first elderflowers this spring,, with lots of berries to come, and the support species for the fruit trees are growing well. The tagasaste has been a huge hit here, the fastest growing of the forest garden support species, but everything is doing well including eleagnus multiflora, also quite fast growing, choke berry aronia spp., Siberian pea tree, far slower growing but 1m in two years…acacia retinoides are flowering now and 2m tall, the Maakia amurensis that went in this past winter area doing well, the cardoons are flowering.

The blueberry patch with it’s alfalfa ground cover looks great, as is the very important comfrey patch, planted to soak up any nutrients leaving our site to feed back to the chickens and ducks. Actually the Chinese Weeder geese love it the best, but the chickens go mad on it and also the Indian Runner ducks. Muscovies don’t call it edible!!





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