Tomorrow may be first official day of spring, but out in the garden, spring is definitely already here. I thought I'd share with you what's happening here in the garden right now.
Daffodils: In my opinion the more tiny or frilly a daffodil is, the cuter they are. And they look even better when they're in a bucket.
Crocus: A number of crocuses are flowering in the garden, but I don't know what varieties they are, they were planted by a previous owner,
'Roses: My hybrid tea and floribunda roses have burst their buds, but as yet my new damask roses and climbing roses are still slumbering.
Blackcurrant: My huge blackcurrant bush has bust its buds as well, and it won't be long before it starts flowering. Its fruit is usually ready to harvest the week between Christmas and New Year.
Apricot: My two year old dwarf apricot tree has burst it's buds, and has started flowering. We will have more frosts between now and October, so I don't know if we'll get any fruit. I'll try and remember to put frost cloth on it in the meantime.
Rhubarb: My rhubarb plants have started to grow, I really do need to finish their garden bed. Hubby started "fixing" it last autumn, and it still isn't finished...
Quince: My quince tree has also bust its buds. It's still too small to carry any wonderful fruit, but I'll still be happy to see it flowering this spring.
Elderberry: Our self-seeded elderberry plant that grew all on its own in our garden has burst its buds as well. Elderberry shrubs grow wild all around Dunedin and Mosgiel, it's technically a weed, but I love popping out in the garden to collect elderflowers in late spring, and then elderberries in autumn. I love getting free food.
Plum: The plum street growing out on the street outside our home is now flowering, and its petals are like pink snow blowing all around. I love spring blossom.
Do you have signs of spring in your garden yet? I'm loving the longer, sunnier days...and I can't wait for summer to get here.
Have a wonderful day
We're up to week 4 of spring seed sowing, and I feel like I'm running behind. The past week has been busy painting and prepping areas of the garden for the coming growing season, but the pressure is also on to continue seed sowing as well.
Vegetable plants sowed this week:
- Beetroot Cylindra
- Cucumber Crunchy F1
- Cucumber Lebanese Medici F1
- Carrot Amsterdam Sprint
- Radish Easter Egg
- Sugar Beet
I also invested in some chicken wire cloches to prevent the sparrows from taking all my precious seed, they watched me hungrily the other day as I direct sowed the first of the root crops.
Herb plants sowed this week:
- Lemon Balm
- Orange Balm
- Olive Herb
- Basil Gustosa
- Basil Sweet Genovese
I'm particularly excited about growing the Olive Herb plants, as we definitely don't have the space to grow our own olive trees. A summary from the Kings Seeds website about the plant:
"Woody low growing border plant with green leaves that have an intense olive aroma. Said to add the flavouring of olives to marinades, pasta, a variety of meat and tomato dishes or wherever olives might be used. Combines well with thyme, rosemary, basil and tarragon flavours. The attractive yellow pompom flowers are also edible. Low maintenance plants are fairly hardy, preferring humus rich, well drained soil but will tolerate other conditions and soil types too."
Flower plants sowed this week:
- Dahlia Beeline II Keith Hammett
- Dahlia Keith Hammett NZ Gardener 2023 Seed Swap
- Dahlia Sunflower Keith Hammett
- Lavender Hidcote
I sent in a self addressed envelope to NZ Gardener in order to get some Keith Hammett dahlia seeds for this year's dahlia grow along, it's always great to see what sort of dahlias pop up, they're dahlia seeds collected from his breeding program. Each seed will be unique, and not ever seen before.
I hope your seed sowing is going well, this week is spring!
Have a wonderful day
I'm in the middle of working on my Winter Citrus Garden Project, so that I can put my lemon, lime and mandarin plants into the ground this coming spring. They are too big for their pots, and need their own space to expand into in the garden. Of course this means that from next autumn and winter I will need to protect them from frosts and snow while living outside, but I've figured that this a problem for future me to sort out...
For the past couple of months I've been planning, and then preparing three areas of the garden for the citrus plants will move into. My citrus plants currently spend spring, summer, and the first part of autumn sitting on the patio, which pretty much gets all day sun. I love the way the plants look in our brick patio, especially when they're in flower and fruiting, it makes the area feel very Mediterranean, so I decided that the plants had to go into the ground near this space.
The mandarin tree is quite wide, so it will be going into the position previously held by the rhododendron bush behind the fence as shown in this photo.
So far over the winter, hubby and I have chopped down the rhododendron behind the fence, and more recently I've water blasted the fence for painting. I don't particularly like rhododendron plants, the main reason being that rhododendron nectar is actually poisonous to Tui, and can kill them, which is why I didn't mind getting rid of it. My plan here is to paint the fence white, not only will the fence and mandarin provide a pop of colour in the garden, but it will also make the fence easier to see in the dark while driving down the driveway...
The next area to prepare, is for the lemon tree. As seen in this photo, the lemon tree is small and round, and it will be moving sideways as seen in this photo, into the herb garden bed under our kitchen window.
Last week I tidied up the herb garden for the winter, and left the thyme and rosemary plants to stay where they currently are (after giving them a big hair cut). The lemon tree will sit in the middle of the herb garden as seen in the photo below, and the mint and saffron plants will sit on the right.
The last area to prepare is for our lime bush. It is much more bushy and bigger than the lemon bush, and it will be going into the spot where the small Japanese maple tree used to be.
We really loved the Japanese maple tree, that you can see in the photo above, but the previous owners put the tree in a bad spot in the patio. The base of its trunk was right up against the brick wall for the driveway, and as it got bigger, its roots and trunk started damaging both the fence and the patio. Half the tree also stuck out into the driveway, making driving out of the garage tricky at times.
Over the last couple of weeks we chopped the Japanese maple tree down, and then spent a lot of time digging up as much of the roots as possible, in order to ensure there would be space to put the lime bush into. This part of the project actually took way more work than I first envisioned, so I feel like I'm somewhat behind in the project at this stage.
The next step in this winter citrus gardening project is to paint both the fence, and also the board holding back the soil where the lime tree will go. And given that it's winter in Dunedin, and it's rare that the temperature will be above 10˚C long enough for paint to dry and cure, this step will only happen on a sunny day with a warm north westerly wind, no doubt. This may take weeks to happen, so in the mean time I'll continue to work on other garden projects.
What winter gardening projects are you up to? I'd be interested to find out.
Have a wonderful day
It's been another busy week in the garden seed sowing for Spring. And also, seeds that I've already sown have started germinating, including my tomato, chilli, and lettuce seeds.
In the Vegetable Garden this week:
- Prepped the first vegetable garden bed for sowing peas and potatoes
- Checked on chitting potatoes (Rocket, Jersey Benne, Ilam Hardy, and Haylo)
- Sowed Greenfeast peas
In the Herb Garden this week:
- Sowed Oregano
- Sowed Common Sage
- Sowed Cumin
In the Flower Gardens this week:
- Sowed King Size Apricot Aster
- Sowed Crambe Cordifolia
- Sowed Dianthus Cruentus
- Sowed Echinacea simulata
- Sowed Gomphrena Raspberry Cream
- Sowed Knautia Macedonia Scabium
I didn't sow as many seeds as I hoped this week, as I was working on my winter citrus project to get the garden areas ready for when my citrus plants go into the ground in October.
Hopefully this week I'll get more seed sowing done.
Have a wonderful day,
In an earlier blog post I shared with you how I grew wheat from seed last summer. In this blog post I share with you how I processed the wheat seeds, and turned it into flour.
The first step in processing the dried wheat is threshing, whereby you loosen the wheat seeds from the attached straw and wheat head. After looking at a lot of videos on YouTube, we found two methods that would be relatively easy for a home grower to try.
The first method was pretty simple, basically it involved taking bunches of wheat and slapping it between the two sides of a bucket back and forth in a fast and furious manner. It sure made for a good arm workout.
The second method involved bashing the wheat head with a big stick, while not losing any of the wheat seeds in the process. We decided the easiest way for us to do this was to put the bunches of wheat into a fine pillow case, and bashing it with a flat piece of wood.
After experimenting to see how much the wheat seeds would loosen after using each threshing method, we decided that the best way forward would be to use both methods. I did the bucket method, and then passed what was left over to hubby for him to bash with a piece of wood.
What you end up with is a mix of wheat seeds and chaff. WIth threshing done, it was onto the winnowing process to remove the wheat seeds from the chaff. After watching even more videos on YouTube, I decided that the easiest way to winnow the wheat was to wait for a super windy day, and then get the wind to blow the chaff away from the wheat as I dropped the mixture into a wheel barrow. I used a wheel barrow for this process because it gave me a big area to winnow in, and the high sides of the wheel barrow meant that seeds were less likely to blow away.
The trick I soon learnt was that there is a specific height you hand has to be at to remove the chaff without losing the wheat seeds over the edge in the process, and this was mainly dependent on how hard the wind is blowing. If the wind is very strong, it's best to keep your hand close to the wheel barrow, and if the wind was light you could raise your hand higher. Also another thing to note, is that the wheat chaff is very dry and sharp and pointy, and it hurts your fingers, so wearing gloves is a must. The winnowing step was the most time intensive step, and I had to repeat the winnowing multiple times to get rid of most of the chaff from the wheat seeds.
WIth the main winnowing step complete, we then by hand had to pick out any stray bits of chaff from the wheat, along with any other random bits of stuff that had made it through the previous steps, and this also took a while, but it was made easier by watching TV while we did so.
Finally after all those steps, all we had left was wheat seeds, and in particular 857 grams of homegrown wheat seeds. Getting to this stage was quite a feat in itself, but we hadn't even gotten to the milling stage yet. So it was back to the internet and in particular YouTube to see how we could mill the wheat into a fine enough grade for making bread...
The following methods suggested to mill the grain into flour did not work for us:
1 - Using a mortar and pestle - Didn't do anything at all, a complete waste of time.
2 - Using our coffee and spice grinder - It did chop the grains into a couple of pieces each, but did not mill it at all
3 - Using our food processor - Didn't do much better than the coffee and spice grinder.
This was all pretty frustrating, but the good thing about wheat seeds is that they can store for over a year as is in a sealed container at room temperature (much longer than flour can), so we left it while we pondered what we could do. Hubby and I finally came to the conclusion that the only way forward would be to buy a mill of our own. There are a lot of options in New Zealand to buy stand alone home mills, but most were super expensive, and were much bigger and stronger than what we needed.
But then, while perusing the Flour Power Mills website, we found a small stone mill that would attach to our KitchenAId stand mixer. The Mockmill Stone Mill attachment was at least half the price of the smallest stand alone mills available, and as a bonus it would also mill a wide range of other grains and legumes (including amanath, chia seeds, oats, millet, chickpeas, maize, barley, dried rice, quinoa, rye, and dried soya beans), as well as milling a whole bunch of herb and spice seeds...
It wasn't too long before the Mockmill Stone Mill had arrived by courier, and hubby attached it to our KitchenAid stand mixer.
The set up was pretty easy, and all we had to do was set the mill to a fine setting, and then put the wheat seeds in the hopper. We turned the stand mixer on, and fine flour began pouring out of the flour chute.
The process was loud, but very easy, and within 5 minutes we had our own flour! We hadn't lost any wheat in the process, and the flour the mill had produced on the finest setting was just as good as flour we used normally for making our own bread.
The wheat in this state is a mixture of fine white flour and wheat bran flakes. For a rustic bread it's fine to use as is, or you can sieve the flour to remove the wheat bran if needed. The only step left in this journey is to make bread with the flour, in a future blog post I'll share with you hubby's family famous bread recipe that never fails, using our own homegrown flour!
We are very excited about this, but not only that, hubby has already started mumbling about growing our own maize, so that we can make our own corn chips...
Have a wonderful day