When does it get quiet? By that I mean, when can we put our feet up for a few weeks and just ‘be’? Not yet. It seems that we’ve not stopped since October. Summer has been and gone and still we’re playing catch up! There is however a certain rhythm to this farm life that we’re beginning to get a handle on.
By now you know how I lament the lateness or lack of tomatoes. Well, in the end, we had an ok season. I should stop worrying about them. They do eventually appear, even if they arrive mid February! Perhaps I should make a supreme effort next season and get some growing in my poly tunnel. But that’s just another job for the list. I’ve managed to freeze oodles of these babies. I’ve made chilli jam, relish, chutney, soup and passata. I finally took a deep breath last week and picked the last of the tomatoes on the vines. Most were still green. They’re spread on trays, lined up in front of the kitchen windows where it is sunny and warm. Hopefully most of them will turn rosy red. I’m not a huge fan of green tomato pickles, so I don’t make them.
The vegetable beds where these guys were grown are now empty. I’ll prepare them this week for the next planting by adding a good load of compost. According to my ‘Gardenate’ phone app, I’ll be popping broad bean and peas into these beds. There are other vegetable beds that have been cleared. I’m always amazed at how tall some vegetables will grow. For instance, fennel and silverbeet if left to their own devices, grow pretty tall.
When I walk down the pathway between the raised beds, the bright yellow fennel flowers wave about above my head. I leave them till they have formed seeds before I collect the seeds and then pull the spent plants out. Some fennel is allowed to flower deliberately as the bees love them. The seeds are used in cooking and to plant again next season. However, I have found that I rarely need to plant fennel as so many of the plants self seed. There are always tender plants popping up between other vegetables that are sweet and delicious. I love to dry the thin whispy leaves and make fennel salt. It’s a delicate flavour that works well on scrambled eggs or roast potatoes.
There is one huge task that is looming on our planting calendar. It’s the planting of our annual garlic crop. We do things the hard way here. We plant our garlic by hand. With a little help from our neighbours we get our rows ploughed each season. We don’t plant a lot of garlic by commercial standards. We’re limited by our own ability to plant, harvest, store and then create a number of products from this small crop. In a couple of weeks we’ll be getting on our knees and will be pushing cloves into the soil again. Last week we got a couple of trailer loads of wonderful composted cow poo and spread it on our new beds. Who would think that cow poop could be so valuable! Our soil is typical for this part of Gerangamete. It’s mostly dense clay, so we have to add plenty of organic matter to the soil to break it down and at the same time increase the biological activity in the beds.
Once we’ve cleaned up the last of the summer vegetable gardens, planted our winter and spring crops, planted and mulched our garlic beds, I think it may be time for a holiday!