When Life Throws You Lemons But Also Treasure

It’s been a little while… Life has been busy with harvesting, a baby to feed, with an ever-increasing appetite and changes in what she can eat, and navigating the ups and downs of increased socialisation at the peak of covid here. So far, we’ve managed to avoid covid but pick up several other sicknesses, meaning The Little Fulla has been home from school sometimes. The weather has cooled down. The days with highs of 19-21degC (66-70F) and cool nights are the best! I am loving it!

Now that Miss Scarlet can sit and is awake for longer and the sun isn’t brutal she comes outside with me in the afternoon and has a little sit and play while I do a spot of gardening nearby. Except that now she is also crawling, so I can’t get stuck into anything too intense because things tend to go into the little mouth. Many things. But it is helpful in getting small bits of pruning done or taking out old crops here and there, especially when The Little Fulla is around to help with his sister.

My littlest garden buddy.
Pruning the apricot tree was not a task to do with Miss Scarlet around, but The Little Fulla joined me. I didn’t prune it enough last year when I was pregnant so it needed some work.

We continue to harvest feijoas, sweet peppers, the very last of the tomatoes (cherries Golden Grape and Broad Ripple Yellow Currant), some dry beans and apples from our mature apple tree. When I saw we had an overnight low of 4degC (39F) forecast I picked all the remaining sweet peppers that were big enough. They were looking good after some rain but I didn’t want them to go to mush if it got too close to freezing. We had one night that got down to about 2degC but the remaining peppers made it through. Ah well, the small ones I left on have carried on growing.

The feijoas have greatly improved in size since we pruned half the tree back hard. For the first time we can harvest our feijoas with the fruit collector. It is a basket attached to a long handle that you roll on the ground over the fruit and the fruit comes through the flexible basket wires into the basket. It was last year when I was trying to harvest feijoas and walnuts whilst pregnant (or convince other family members to do so) that I decided I did not want to do another season without a fruit collector. It is genius! It saves bending up and down and getting a sore back. It is also supposed to work for walnuts and apples, which is handy for tidying up fallen apples or any other fruit. The choices were between a Gardena fruit collector or a Wolfgarten one. I chose the Gardena one because it has a hole and scoop on one side that you can use for emptying loads or scooping up tricky fruit and it can be used for walnuts, whereas Wolfgarten has a separate basket that is rated for nuts or small fruit. The walnuts have started falling so I will try this out on them soon.

Even with only half the tree producing I’ve still had trouble keeping up with harvesting the feijoas. The chickens were enjoying pecking at them before they moved pens. I have started calling the rooster Basil because he is the son of Sage and the herb theme reminds me of that. I might give the young blue girls herb names and the black girls something else to remind me that they are from different fathers.

I sowed more brassicas some weeks ago and pricked out some of the first lot into six-packs. I haven’t planned where everything is going to go like I usually do, so we’ll see what happens. I’ve done broccoli, purple sprouting broccoli, cauliflower, red and green cabbages, kale, tatsoi and pak choy. I also sowed lettuces and onions. I had to cover the brassicas from early on as a white cabbage moth found my wee seedlings and started laying eggs on them before I intervened. More on that next time.

We need to finish cleaning up all the old crops (and weeds) and get the beds prepped with compost for the cold season or next season.

We’ve done a bit of chainsawing and pruning. We had an old manuka tree that was splitting and leaning towards the fence after one of the storms. That got felled. There are a lot of branches around the place that need to be cut up and stacked on the firewood racks. The Husband has started our fire on several mornings and it is just lovely.

Meanwhile, there seem to be a lot more mice around than usual and the fur child, despite her old age, is catching quite a few. And, of course, trying to bring them inside. It’s just as well she has such a loud, distinctive ‘prey meow’. Usually I can get to the door first and close it. Mice traps in the garage have been doing well.

Much of my daily life has been taken up by thinking about what Miss Scarlet can eat, making her food, preparing her food and feeding her. I live my life one cube tray at a time. She’s had some issues since being on solids and I had become consumed by the situation. I was doing everything I could to help her but I didn’t need to let the circumstances suck the joy out of me or isolate me. Miss Scarlet is doing better now but I still have to be careful about what she eats. I am trying to look after myself better. I continue to make her good food, which is getting easier as it’s more chunky and more soft finger food now, but I’m making time for gardening for myself, as that brings me joy and exercise. And helps me to slowly achieve things that I want to around here.

Mashed peas. That are not for me.

Peas are the one vegetable I loathe. I have always loathed them and I’m sure I always will. Other vegetables I didn’t like I have come to like, such as broccoli. But peas are different. I don’t know if my parents know how many peas I disappeared in my childhood. If there was a way to get out of eating them I would find it. Handfuls, pocketfuls or sockfuls of peas were transported to the toilet and from thence out the window, behind the bushes. They can’t go in the toilet because they float. If the Guiness Book of World Records ever puts in a category for ‘Most peas disappeared during childhood’ you will find my name beside it. But even though I detest the smell of peas, I cook, whizz and freeze them for my baby because they are good for her and this is how I love her. I think that is the only joy I can get out of peas.

A beautiful foggy sunrise.

When a neighbour had a tree trimmed by an arborist recently I made the effort to ask him for an idea of what it would cost to take down our massive cedar tree, even though we were in the busy process of getting ready for morning school drop off. The Husband and I had been discussing it, what with the big storm we had. The arborist’s answer was somewhere in the vicinity of ‘oh dear’. Like, at the dark end of ‘oh dear’. That landed that on the shelf of ‘If God wants us to do it he’ll have to make a way because we can’t’. However, the good part was that he offered me free mulch on account of noticing that some gardening effort was going on here. And so it was that I found myself marveling at a pile of about two cubic meters of mulch in my front garden. Oh, precious, prized mulch! I wanted to throw it in the air and exclaim, “I’m rich! I’m rich!” But I did not, mostly because it was in the front garden. I am so thankful for the mulch. God knows I need it but haven’t had the means to go and get it myself. The whole garden needs mulch. When The Little Fulla came home he helped me to spread some out over the Walnut Garden. Some has been put elsewhere and there is more to be moved. The Little Fulla climbed on the pile and excitedly made himself a seat in it and threw some around, then wondered why he had sharp bits in his pants. See, that’s why I didn’t throw it around…

The treasury of mulch that needs to be used. They may have tipped it on some of my plants but I rescued some of them.

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