It’s so easy for some isn’t it! Those natural green thumbs who post perfect pictures all over the internet of their luscious spring gardens. Then it morphs into radiant summer produce, topped up with pictures of overflowing vegetable baskets as we get into autumn harvests. These green thumbs seem to have effortless waves of bounty to show us all every few days.
Actually the devil is truthfully more in the detail, planning and efforts put in across wintertime. It all happens in winter.
From the minute the cold autumn chills remind us that winter is on its way, gardeners are plotting and planning for the following year. The reality is a tad more complex. In winter we think of high summer, in spring our heads are in autumn, in summer I wonder what I will plant for colour and food in wintertime, and finally in autumn we are planting bulbs for spring. It’s a constant evolution for our gardens.
What worked? We muse. What didn’t work? What’s new? What do I like to grow? What will I never grow again? What will I pull out? Trees, shrubs, plants or bulbs? Gardens are a cacophony of hapless thoughts propelled around in our minds and then reorganised into some tangible list of jobs executed by our hands dipped into wheelbarrows on those cold, sharp windy days, when most others are rugged up by the fire.
There’s sacrifice involved, for we know that the more we can get done in winter, the better the garden will be come summer.
We prune it, we mulch it, we empty compost, we build new beds, we remove old plants, we dig, we plant and we mulch some more.
For us, we have reached a little milestone. We’ve been gardening here for over eleven years. Our garden is reaching a sort of maturity. But with that comes more work also. So this year we plan to remove and move beds, we prune more, we shift plants, we plant new roses and we pile up all that good mulch!
We’ve lost some chickens to old age (incredibly not to foxes), and we plan to incubate some new chicks. We’ve concluded after ten years of looking after chickens that standard and bantam orpington are our spirit animals and we will breed only those. Australorps are good and might get a look in too.
Our new puppy has grown into a bounding adolescent and we have kept her warm and happy all winter. She knows the rules of the garden now and follows competently at our heels. Theres a bit more training to be done around birds and walking on a leash, but the work you put in early to training makes all the difference to the years ahead that we will spend together.
This coming spring the focus will be to establish some breeding pairs of our lovely sustainable Orpington varieties and also to grow food. Watch out for a new article soon where we will talk about why we think the heritage breed of the Orpington is one of the most sustainable chickens you could have at a small holding or small farm.
With the recent grocery price rises we will be looking to grow more food for ourselves and for the chickens. So there will be lots of sunflowers and corn on the menu for them!
We wont be growing anything too exotic, mostly the things we love to eat ourselves and what grows best in our climate. It’s hard not to be tempted by flashy new varieties and new seeds to try, but this year we are trying to keep it simple.
Tomatoes, potatoes, corn, zucchini’s, cucumber, capsicum, carrots, lettuce, brassicas, rocket, strawberries and rhubarb should keep us plenty happy. There is then also the apple trees we have planted, plums, pears and one very small nectarine.
Currently with recent rain we are enjoying lemons, limes and Valencia oranges as well as much sought after lettuce. Lucky we always have lots of lettuce seeds on hand! Since we have gotten some lovely new Orpingtons last spring and autumn we are now looking at a great egg laying season for ourselves, there are lots of cakes and quiches being made.
We are nearly, incredibly, at the end of winter, and soon all that hard work will pay off and spring will bring a burst of life and another long list of jobs comes with that. Let’s not kid ourselves, no matter how you choose to live, there is hard work behind every kind of lifestyle out there, whether its small holding, small suburban patch, small or large farm.
We feel the benefits though and thats plenty good vibes for us!