Today started out clear, sunny and calm, but it clouded over as the day progressed. It’s clearer now, but there is a storm traveling up from the South Island, and although it’s unlikely to travel this far north, we have been experiencing very strong South-Westerly winds, as can be seen by the cloud patterns to the west.
Our planned excursion to Helensville this morning was aborted half way there, as the road was closed due to a truck having rolled on one of the corners. Rather than wait around for an hour or more for the tow truck to arrive and sort things out, we decided to head back home.
I spent some time this afternoon cutting back the ratty leaves on my tomatoes. I spotted a couple of cabbage looper caterpillars, Trichoplusia ni, and picked them off. I’ve posted images of these on the Nature Watch NZ site. I love this site as it’s helped me to identify many of the unfamiliar bugs and plants I’ve come across since we’ve lived at South Head.
But I digress. Last summer these caterpillars wrought havoc on my tomatoes – not only did they eat the leaves, which isn’t too much of a problem in itself, but they also like to tunnel into the actual tomatoes and many were spoiled. From what I’ve read, I suspect that my tomato plants are becoming vulnerable due to there not having been any rainfall since Christmas. It’s supposed to rain tomorrow, but if not, we’ll have to give our garden a decent watering.
Our hens like to eat the caterpillars, so it is with some satisfaction that I feed them any that I find.
The photo above shows how little garlic we have left! But the garlic we harvested around this time in 2013 has lasted all year so we haven’t had to purchase any.
Our garlic plants aren’t looking that amazing … again, the soil has become very dry. We did dig in a decent amount of compost during the year, but with our light soil, it just seems to become absorbed really quickly. And of course, I’ve been lazy about weeding. The garlic bulbs will be ready to lift and dry when the foliage dries off and turns brown.
The tawny leaves that can be seen lying on the the soil amongst the plants are from the huge Lilly Pilly trees that line our back fence. There doesn’t seem to be one time of the year that they don’t shed their leaves. At first this used to drive me mad, but I’m accustomed to them now. Every so often I make the effort to sweep them all up and add them to our compost heap.
We’d also started a bag of leaves for leaf mulch – but I must admit that although I started out really keen to keep the leaves separate, I lost interest within a few days of starting the bag.
Another garden task we tackled today was the removal of an overgrown lemon grass plant. I must admit that when we purchased it as a precious, tiny plant three years ago, I thought that a spot in the vegetable garden would be just fine, but it’s grown out of proportion to what I’d expected. And I worry when it’s seeding (as it has been for the last several weeks).
I use lemon grass from time to time when marinating prawns or cooking up something Asian, but I don’t tend to use it often enough to allow it free reign in my garden.
So, Ben had the task of digging up this unfortunate plant and we’ll buy a new one at some point and decide on a more appropriate place somewhere else on the property.
Other than that, I’ve had a pretty lazy day. Ben had pulled out a row of bolting celery a couple of days ago, so we’ve sowed the following seeds in the space freed up by its removal: –
Carrot ‘Touchon’ (Daucus carota var sativa) , Mesclun Lettuce Mix (Lactuca sativa), Radish ‘Easter Egg’ (Raphanus sativus), Pea ‘Easy Peasy’ (Pisum sativum) and Organic Rocket (Eruca sativa).
For those not familiar with botanical names, you’ll notice the use of the word ‘sativa’ or versions of this in the names of all the seeds. Sativum, Sativus, and Sativa are Latin botanical adjectives meaning ‘cultivated’, applied to certain seed-grown domestic crops.