Friday, 13 March 2015

In The Autumn Garden

Harvest Time! 

It's well into Autumn now. The past summer was a bit of a fizzer (for non-Antipodean readers, sorry about the slang: this means that summer was something of a disappointment); consequently our garden didn't do much through December and January. We did get a few blueberries; the strawberry crop was terrific; we got enough gooseberries to spice up a couple of rhubarb pies and our two-year-old cherry tree started to yield reasonably well. Everything else was very slow to come on.

However, thanks to a wonderful February things finally started to take off. For the first time ever we grew aubergines. We didn't really count the first one harvested as it was on the plant when we brought it home from the nursery, but here is a photo of Di cherishing the second one picked ...

We actually grew this!
We have at least two more aubergines on the way, perhaps more. Quite exciting really, having never grown them before. We wondered why for the longest time we were getting lots of flowers but no fruit so I did a bit of research on the internet. This is, apparently, a common problem. The solution is to get a small paint brush and pollinate the flowers. Since then things have started moving. Here is one of them just starting to show itself as the real McCoy, yet still in a rather jewel-like state ...

A jewel yet, a morsel to be ...
It was a good thing we got stuck into the garden early. After foolishly rupturing my Achilles tendon on the 15th of December, I haven't been able to do much in the garden since. Thankfully I installed an extensive watering system last year, so what we did plant hasn't need us to move hoses around or do a lot of hand watering. We added a patch to the front yard in spring. Here's a photo of Di just about to set off for a bike ride, with some our veggies pushing into the frame for a bit of recognition. The beans over her shoulder are pretty much finished, but the Russian kale, carrots, lettuce and parsnips are still coming on ...

Di and front garden veggies
Back in the back yard, our tomatoes are finally starting to give some satisfaction. Here's a glimpse of what's on one plant ...

Tomatoes on the way
... and a bunch ready to eat ...

Destined for salads, sandwiches ... and ratatouille perhaps?
For the first time ever we seem to be having reasonable success with capsicums, although again rather belatedly. We have harvested one and here is a nice big one on the way ...

A nice big capsicum!

... and there more on the way. I'm hoping that we'll get an extended bit of good weather to ripen everything up, but I'm not overly confident. March hasn't been great, but you never know.

We have never had any luck with bok choy but this year we decided to try some Chinese Cabbages and they have done very well ...

Chinese Cabbages have been a worthwhile addition
Up against the fence you can see a couple of the olive trees I've planted with the idea of creating a screen. Maybe one day they'll bear fruit worthwhile of harvesting.

We have similar hopes for the fig tree we planted last winter, which has established itself rather well in its first year ...

A fig for your thoughts???
Di has picked one cabbage and has been threatening to pick another, but I want her to wait until the heart fills out ...

"Let it Grow"
Out in the back corner where the fig tree is growing we've got a bit of a jungle happening. I planted tomatoes in front of the Tea Tree hedge I've been working at for years, and they've gone berserk: tangling themselves all amongst the shrubbery. On top of that, Di decided that to encourage a couple of beans that had self-sown ...

Not quite impenetrable, but nearly
It looks like there are more beans on the way. What we're going to do with them is anyone's guess. The freezer compartment in the fridge is choc-a-block. Maybe we can palm more off on the neighbours.

As you can see, I've been unable to get at the Tea Tree to trim it back (having my foot in plaster for the first half of the summer and in a boot for the second half didn't help). I guess taking to it with the clippers will have to wait until the tomatoes and beans are finished.

Speaking of the beans, they have been so prolific we've had lots to give away to neighbours. Patrick and Lyn on one side of us have returned the favour with a brace of bags of raspberries, and Sam and Leonie on the other side have provided us with plums and pears. (The pears, poached in red wine were been a big hit, and the plums have been fantastic stewed and served with yoghurt for breakfast.

Now then, I find myself confronted with a bit of a dilemma. Should I keep the tea tree hedge growing, or should I undo all the years of tending by ripping it out and plant some fruit trees in what is probably the best spot in our garden? What do you think I should do? (You could leave a comment ...)

Other Stuff ...

For the past 3 ½ weeks I've been able to ride the stationary bike at the gym without the CAM boot, which has been excellent - at least as far as sitting on a stationary bike looking at a bank of screens can be "excellent". The whole joint is still pretty weak and gets sore towards the end of a session but I see incremental improvement every day. My physiotherapist - who is excellent - has me doing stuff some land-based and water-based therapy, and it has all made a significant difference to the way the joint feels. The swelling is slowly subsiding and movement within the joint is improving. Going to the gym and/or the pool everyday as my main form of exercise has been pretty boring (not as boring as when I was mostly a couch potato for six weeks of course!) but it's fantastic to see progress.

Now I'm starting to get excited about getting rid of the boot altogether. The middle of next week can't come around quickly enough. Being able to get around in a pair of shoes - albeit it more slowly than I can stump along with the boot - will be such a pleasure. And I'm told that I can get on my real bike out in the real world again, as long as I avoid long and/or steep hills and don't try to stand up in the pedals. It will be necessary to use flat pedals for four weeks, but I can live with that. Just exercising outside and seeing terrain pass by will be terrific, with longer journeys and more interesting terrain in the offing before too much more time passes. 

Di is way ahead of me with her training. She has just headed off for a ride as I sit typing this: a ride which bring her total up to over 250 kilometres for the week, including one ride of just over 90 kilometres. She is very pleased with the way things are going, as the gradual build-up in distance means that her hip hasn't been complaining. I'm also very pleased: she will be able to tow me along as I am finding my way back to being on the bike for sustained periods.

And that's about it for now. It's time I took myself off to the gym so I can get a reasonable workout in before they close for the day.

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