A time to plant: pt. 2
The Vegetable Roll Call of Honour
- red onions
- Pukekohe onions
- Stuttgart onions
- runner beans*
- Brussels sprouts*
*Grown from saved seed.
June grows our vegetables. That’s a huge ask. She loves to garden, but would love it even more if I helped out. I would, honest, now that I’ve retired from paid work, if it weren’t for the fact that my mornings are now spent in my writing room. And the rest of my day is filled working on other demands of our homesteading life.
That said, we’re both okay with the arrangement, and the division of labour. For June, it’s compensation enough that I’m writing about our way of life. After thirty years of thinking that I’d like to, I’ve finally got round to doing it!
Getting all your vegetables from the home garden is no mean feat. Although there’s just the two of us most of the time, we eat way more than standard servings. Our vegetable needs are never far from her mind. They’re at fever pitch now because we’re slam-bang in the middle of the late winter – early spring planting season.
The need for prepared seed beds and punnets begins to escalate by mid-August. For several of our vegetable crops, the seeds are germinated either in raised seed beds inside the greenhouse (unheated), or in punnets inside June’s studio on a heat pad placed on a bench under a north-facing window.
Tomatoes, capsicums, aubergines, basil and coriander (all started in punnets), will be planted in the tunnel house in soil specifically prepared for them once minimum temperatures in there are no less than 10 degrees Celsius: much below that can set growth back by weeks. Celery (in punnets), pumpkins, marrows/courgettes, and sweetcorn (in greenhouse seedbeds), will be transplanted outdoors once there’s little risk of late frosts. Cucumbers stay put in the greenhouse, but the onion seedlings, their greenhouse neighbours, will be transplanted outdoors in the main vegetable garden.
June has a very full calendar of appointments during August and September, and most of them take place in the vegetable garden. I’ve got the kitchen calendar in front of me now:
- 12-20 August: cabbage, brocolli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, silverbeet, lettuce, spinach.
- 26-27 August: red onions, Pukekohe onions, Stuttgart onions, radish.
- 10-18 September: peas, tomatoes, celery, basil, coriander.
- 24-25 September: early potatoes, parsnips, beetroot, leeks, turnips.
Everything else on The Vegetable Roll Call of Honour has its own window of days marked on the calendar: a particular week of a particular month of a particular season.
June, drawing on decades of experience, and factoring in the influence of the moon on optimum times for seed germination, knows what works for our climate. A flourishing garden with a diverse range of home-grown vegetables proof enough.
That’s all on modern-day homesteading at Little Owl Gully till next Monday. Thanks for your company. Bye for now.