I grow vegetables to feed us, make natural ingredient creams, lotion and shampoo, cook all meals from scratch and detest E numbers. I live in the beautiful South Island of New Zealand

Daylight saving time has finished and autumn is here. Autumn never slid in sideways gently, giving us time to  acclimatise to the changing temperatures,  it hit us full on with a cold change that put snow on them tha’ hills.

Because I am not very well at the moment, the vegetable garden is not being attended as it should ((hence no pictures sorry) but I am getting help to pick things as they are ready. My late crop of yellow dwarf beans is finally coming in slowly and I am hoping we will get more sun and no frosts for a few more weeks so I can get some in the deep freeze. I am not sure the dwarf purple beans will develop, but the purple flowers and purple stems and veins are very beautiful.

My heirloom tomatoes are also still coming on and being brought into the windowsill as soon as any colour appears.  I love the black tomatoes -‘ Black from Tula’ and ‘Cherokee purple’. These have superb taste and there have been some weird shapes. The ‘Black Cherry’ is also divine and it was a very prolific fruiter. I find the acid free ‘Roma’ in both red and orange a lot better than I thought they would be. I have a friend who has already put in an order for more plants for spring. But the Amish paste variety are certainly not the best for eating raw, but excellent in sauce.   The mid sized cherry ‘Riesentraube’ with its little point on the base, is another favourite. Alas the white tomatoes  and yellow cherries did not make it over our very hot dry summer. They were planted too close to the trees on the boundary and every drop of water put on was slurped up by the greedy trees.

I gave away many plants of the 14 different varieties of heirloom tomatoes I grew and have had wonderful success stories come back. I have also had tales of triffids taking over the patio or garden. I DID give instructions, telling people to give them room to spread or keep the laterals pruned out to prevent this, but no one seemed to listen or read (men of course he he).

The last of the pickling cucumbers were picked today and when I feel a bit better I will cut and salt them and make more of my Cucumber Pickles. I still have zucchini ripening as well as cauliflowers so will be making more Mustard Pickle  too.

Pumpkins have also been disappointing this year as were the raspberries.  Again, for the same reason as the tomatoes, the boundary trees.

I brought some hessian sacks from Country Trading Co. for my potato storage. I will leave my late crop in the ground as long as I can before lifting and storing them for winter use.  I got the smaller sized bags as the felt they would be easier to (wo)man handle into the basement for winter.

When I am feeling better I want to plant Broad Beans (Fava beans) to grow over winter for an early spring crop. I have winter vege plants needing to go in too, but they will wait now the white butterflies have been kept off them. Oh they have had a feast in the last 2 weeks without my vigilance, my cabbages are full of holes. The caterpillars are being picked off by hand and the chooks are loving them.

The strawberries would have done a lot better in a raised bed rather than the pallet base I planted them in. They produced phenomenal root systems but the roots got too hot under the panels and fried. Strawberries will definitely go in a proper raised bed, along with my asparagus as they are both crops that can be left to themselves for several years.

I have been enjoying blueberries from my two potted trees. I will need to repot them into bigger pots as they have done so well. I brought some variegated cranberry plants and they are still in pots but fruiting nicely and are so sweet to eat. They will go in the very damp garden along the path between the house and fence. The garden slopes and is far too wet for my roses which will be moved in winter to a dryer space. Only cyclamen (I planted last winter) and weeds seem to grow there. I suspect the spring bulbs I planted there may have rotted out. Even though we had a very dry summer, that garden remained very damp.

Carrots, kohl rabi, salsify and parsnips are growing happily, although the parsnips never recovered several visits and donations from the neighbours cats (caught in the act and seen off the property with the water pistol kept for the purpose). I have ordinary orange carrots and also heirloom red and Belgian white carrots. This is the first time I have grown salsify and kohl rabi, but they seem to be doing ok.

As this is the first full growing season I have spent in this house, I now know where to grow things next season – where the sun and shadows lie all year around. I will definitely be making more raised gardens along the south side fence.  A greenhouse for tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and chilies is essential. Losing my cheapo greenhouse in the strong nor’wester wind so early in the season, meant the plants got stunted waiting to be planted in the new greenhouse than never happened. I had to just plant them or lose them in the end. I have been promised a new greenhouse by the end of July!!. It has to be up by then so I know where I can plant the raspberries and pumpkins.


I have a bag of mustard and also ‘chicken greens to plant on the old ground level vegetable garden. ‘The chook run will be moved to the non productive area near the boundary trees and will wrap around the greenhouse on two sides.  The mustard and chicken greens will be winter feed for  my 3 girls and I will graze them slowly over the area. I will also plant more greens in large seed trays so I can give them growing greens in the tray then remove it and let it come away again and recycle. That’s the plan anyway.

Guess I just have to get better so I can start doing some of this before winter arrives. We will see if it happens!!


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