The Garden in April

This is a rather long post, for a month in which I didn’t think much happened. Apparently, though, I can ramble for miles, so my decision to make a monthly garden post may have backfired. I’m not going to cut this up now, though, but I may look at doing a weekly or fortnightly post from now on O.O

Early April

The weather lately has been kind of crappy. First there was the tempest in March that generally just messed the garden up almost completely, and the end of March/beginning of April saw the tail end of Cyclone Debbie bring enough rain that it really wasn’t worth going outside most days. Then Cook dropped another deluge (though we didn’t get the wind this time, phew). The first half of April was very very wet. 

There really wasn’t a whole lot to do in the garden coming into April. It’s a goddamn mess, but it’s not really chop and drop time yet, and there’s a lot of stuff that won’t be ready to harvest for another month. The leaves haven’t fallen off the grape vine yet, and my raspberry pruning is more of a harvest-second-year-canes-for-the-bunnies-as-we-need-them kind of deal. I’m not up for tearing out summer crops while most of them are still producing, albeit slowly at this point.

I have been harvesting pumpkins. In the case of the big blue ones, the vines were all dead and nothing further was going to happen there. I made the mistake of forgetting that I’d left them out in the sun, and the rain started overnight, of course. The wee honeynut (miniature butternut) were done, though the vines were still viable (protected, perhaps, by the kumara they were planted with), and, wisely, I brought them inside. It was an easier option, as they’re wee, and they fit on a shelf in the laundry.

Speaking of kumara, they’re still in the ground and will stay there another month. The bed is full of weeds and being encroached upon by the nearby jungle of kikuyu and buttercup, but weeding is counter-productive until the bed is clear.

My red onions are still going, dear god. I didn’t sow enough carrots. I’m pulling wee ones to eat (though some are splitting even though they are wee, which is awkward). There’s a good section of that bed that just needs weeding before I can throw some brassicas in, though. Which I’m going to have to buy, because I suffered from summertime fail and didn’t get the seeds in early enough.

I’ve got new beds to build, stat, so I can either plant winter crops or fill them with sheet mulch over winter. Okay, so there is actually stuff I could get on with while I’m waiting for everything else. A cold frame to build, too. That’s pretty urgent. And there are a lot of plants that have been sitting on my nursery table over summer that should go in the ground simply so I don’t have to coddle them over winter.

The weather, though. It’s either too wet to do anything, or too hot and muggy to move outside. Is it too much to ask for a couple of cool dry days to motivate me?

Later in April:

I ended up digging the kumara earlier than I intended. We’d had a few dry days after Cyclone Debbie, and Cook was about to dump another deluge on us, so I whipped them out. I got a good 9L bucketful from a 1.2×1.8m bed that they shared with kidney beans and honeynut squash, so that’s not too bad, I don’t think. There were a few in the bed that looked like they’d been in there a bit long, to be honest (and they’d been drilled by some hungry critter), so I’m quite pleased I got them out when I did.

I also got the red onions out and hung up in the shed. There’s some huge ones, and some wee ditty ones, and some that look like fat spring onions that’ll have to be eaten post haste. I’m not sure I’ll do red onions again. I love them, I do, with summer salads! Unless I can get them to grow over winter to mature in the spring/early summer, they might not be worth the space I could give over to winter storage onions.

April, of course, is Easter time. The kids always get a few chocolate eggs from the extended family, but the whole ‘spring chicken + eggs = new life’ thing has never made a lot of sense to me at this time of year, because it’s autumn! Halloween and jack-o-lanterns have never been a big thing in the past here in New Zealand (probably cos it made no sense in October), but I’ve been growing a couple plants of a cute wee halloween-looking pumpkin for the kids the last couple of years. They’re ready just in time for Easter, and the kids gut them, I help with the faces, and we light them up and leave them on the front doorstep (sorry, no photos of them lit, my tablet had run out of battery and the flash refused to work!).

After Easter (and Cyclone Cook) we had some more dry weather. I got the grapevine pruned, tidied up the raspberries, and did some weeding. It hasn’t been unpleasant outside, and it finally feels like time to chop and drop and generally start the slow and steady winter clean up. I’ve also been putting into action my ‘autumn/winter crop rotation plan thingy’.

At least I’ve been trying. Perennials are mucking me up (because they’re so permanent!). I still have no idea where I’m going to put the asparagus I grew from seed over the summer, because I’ve decided to move my strawberries, and they’re going into the bed I had planned for the asparagus. The strawberries have been in a strip at the back of the house, but there’s an invasive grass close by that keeps crawling up and over them. The strawberries just aren’t enough to keep them down, so I’ll be moving them to a safe boxed in space and re-sheet-mulching their old bed, and I’ll plant that with something a little more able to out-compete the weeds. Meanwhile, my poor asparagus remain homeless, and I have no idea what I’m going to do with them over the winter.

It’s now the second to last day of April, and it’s raining again. A nice drizzle that’s enough to get my cover crops germinating. I won’t be doing any more watering around here until spring. 


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