Our early winter gardens.

ImageHi, this is Joe filling in for Rosanne, who is still not well and unable to post much.
The gardens are well into late autumn and the first cold weather has arrived. The ground is covered in leaves and the grapes, pears and persimmons are bare, with stone fruit leaves yellowing quickly and soon to look naked as well. What was impenetrable jungle is now forest laced with bright green citrus loaded with their winter fruit and the occasional guava, leaves blushing purple in the cold, with the last of their crop. The figs and quince are still very much in leaf and starting to turn, and the late figs will not ripen now. The cold weather is very late this year so we keep our fingers crossed for enough chill for cherries.
Winter pruning is still a month away. We have lifted the nets to allow blackbirds in to turn the soil and eat the grubs. They are like feral chickens although somewhat inedible.
We are harvesting the silver beet/spinach/red chard crosses daily at Irene’s. They blanket the hidden ground and we wade through them, knee deep, while slicing crunchy bunches. Snails and slugs are breeding fast in the feast of deep green leaves. Jerusalem artichokes are ready – pure white as we lift them out of the soft soil at my place. Their relatives the Yacon are still in full leaf at Rosanne’s, but starting to flower their tiny sunflowers, so they will be ready next month. I am harvesting heads of broccoli and adding it freshly cut to my winter evening stews. At Mary’s today I picked the last of the Pink Lady apples (first crop – we had seven apples this year) and noticed that there were still Tahiti limes ripening – a five month season so far.
Most of the subtropicals are doing well although the stevia has died off for the winter, my one and only rosella that I grew from seed has carked it and a ginger looks unhappy. The new passionfruit trellis is now covered over and a single lonely fruit hangs down – the first. We are wondering which of the three tangled varieties it will be. Panama berries are still cropping under the verandah – the 18 month old tree is 3m tall and touching the sky… as is a 3m huagatay marigold still in flower. The New Guinea beans grew 6m up my native frangipanis – they are also still in flower, but did not pollinate again this year and I am not expecting any now.
Lovely things have happened recently. Franco, Gaetan and Ted came and helped move junk into my shed. Doxie came and browsed through my extensive seed collection. She has a knack of germinating difficult things. As a present she picked a big bag of my calamondin (too sour to eat!) and converted it to glace calamondin – a whole 2L jar! It is absolutely delicious. Charles dropped by and helped me with weeding and plantings when he came to pick up some trees and also brought cuttings of babaco, which hopefully will strike. I have been grateful for all the help that has come my way – besides Rosanne being out of action, I have been down with migraines for the last 6 Saturdays out of 7 and Saturdays is my day in the garden.
PS if you want any news on plants and sections of our gardens, please let me know. Same if you like me talking about it in this chatty way.