Notes from a winter garden


the blog:

August in the Adelaide Hills

The blossoms are starting to tentatively appear on the fruit trees dotted around the Adelaide Hills and our garden is looking green, healthy and a little bit muddy. This is a time of year when I spend less time in the garden, as things are slow to grow and it is the season for bunkering down and letting the natural cycle do its thing. I have been periodically heading into the veggie garden for some weeding sessions, just to keep on top of things before they explode in the spring – especially since we have stinging nettles in our garden now! This is something I am actually very excited about, because nettles are incredibly nutritious and easy to cook with, just as long as you blanch them in boiling water first to remove the sting (I’m thinking of doing a post all about stinging nettles soon, if you’re interested?).

I have started to think about our spring garden and the seedlings we really should get going in the greenhouse now (we tend to leave it too late every other year). At the moment our greenhouse is providing warmth for our lemongrass bushes, chilli bushes, lemon verbena and curry leaf plant, but they will move back out into the garden after the last frost has been.

We have prolific amounts of dill and mint ready at the moment, as well as sprouting broccoli and broccoli rabe. These plants have been amazing this winter and I would highly recommend planting them over the traditional broccoli, as they provide food for far longer. We also have some carrots, beetroot, kale, silverbeet, leeks, spring onion and lettuce growing. The leeks are still tiny but everything else is pretty much ready. Our peas, unfortunately, were an incredible fail. I have no idea why. But, that is one of the things I love about gardening, you will never stop learning so there is no pressure to get it right all of the time.

Our lemons are finished (we had to harvest them early to save them from the possums) and our mandarin tree is finally providing us with lots of juicy, delicious fruit. I have actually had to prune a few branches off and bring them inside as they are so heavy with fruit they were snapping from the tree (also, again to save the fruit from the possums).

I do quite enjoy the winter garden. It is wet and muddy but heading outside to do some weeding or harvesting on a chilly day is invigorating, especially when you can head back inside and warm up by the fire when you’re done! It is a wonderful time of the year to try growing your own greens, whether it be lettuce, silverbeet, spinach, kale or any other sprouting green vegetable – they are all quite simple to grow and undemanding, and there is nothing better than eating greens fresh from the garden.

Our calendula plants are flowering like crazy, and I have been harvesting them to dry and keep for cake decorations later in the year. I am also keen to try using them medicinally, in a salve perhaps. Something I have never tried before. The rosemary flowers are in bloom, to the bee’s delight as well as my own. I love using rosemary in lemon cakes and the flowers as decoration, or harvesting a good amount of flowers and adding them to marmalade.

There are more hints of spring around the corner. The chickens are laying again (or at least one of them is), the flower patch I have randomly sprinkled with seeds is green and growing taller by the day (I can’t wait to see what blooms come spring), and we have had some glorious days of rain.

How is your garden? Have you been spending much time outdoors this winter (or summer for my Northern Hemisphere friends)? If you are keen to start gardening but aren’t sure how to go about it, check out this post on some simple gardening tips. Or write to me with your questions and I will put together a post answering them!


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