My Garden ~ a Kiwi's take on life

Life is a lot like a garden

My Garden ~ early autumn


During my usual late afternoon walkabout I found a large flat field mushroom in the paddock – the intense aroma took me back to my childhood  when we picked wild mushrooms that grew prolifically on the farm in our autumn months of March to April.  Mum simply stewed the mushrooms with a knob of butter in the saucepan and used cornflour to lightly thicken the juices. Never knew whether to call it a soup or a stew – it sure tasted good. Sometimes the mushrooms were were sauteed and served with grilled bacon. I have the impression field mushrooms  are not as prolific as they used to be. I have wondered if it’s because of the applications of artificial fertilisers and/or chemicals the soil has been subjected to – or could it be climate change? I’ve been reading about growing mushrooms in Patrick Whitefield’s How to Make a Forest Garden (2002). Guess where this thought is headed?  

I snapped some photos to capture some colours of the early autumn harvest.

Autumn Harvest  Top left to right: the weight of the Captain Kidd crop of apples is bending the branches. It’s sweet and juicy to eat raw and cooks exceptionally well to a smooth puree – we find there’s no need to add sugar.  Buttercup pumpkins are a favourite with us. It has a dry, orange-coloured flesh and has a sweet flavour. I use it in different ways including roasted as wedges (rubbed with with olive oil, seasoned with sprigs of rosemary and black pepper), pureed for a fine soup, cubed into pasta dishes or salads. The cos lettuces give salad variety.

Middle left to right: work in progress on new growing beds being established in the paddock. I experimented by planting this Cherimoya in 2002. It is sited in a warm, sheltered spot. The fruit is is large, white, creamy, juicy and is eaten raw. We loved this fruit when we first tried it. I crossed my fingers and hoped that the occasional light frost would not upset the tree – so I’m delighted to see these young fruits have made it into our gardenworld. Another of my experiments has been to grow a Cranberry bush. About two weeks ago, I picked almost one kilo of fruit. I’ve dried some of the berries, juiced some and frozen the rest. I’m not quite sure how  to use these to advantage – last season we enjoyed a roasted turkey stuffed and seasoned with my first crop of cranberries.  

Bottom left to right: apple cucumber is a personal favourite. Love to combine this with feta cheese in a salad. The grape vine was already established when we came here and there are two other table varieties – pink and white grapes.  The vines grow well here. More than a century ago in this region, wine grapes were planted by settlers to this country – by Dalmatians who migrated to New Zealand to dig for kauri gum and also by French Marist missionaries.  

Finally, the strawberries have been exceptional this season and just keep fruiting. I haven’t done anything special – except to apply some animal manure. The site is well-sheltered from wind, gets full sun  morning and late afternoon. My friend is hanging out for the Strawberry Jam – I add a good splash of cointreau instead of  water to  the saucepan in which 1.5kg fruit is simmered until soft. In accordance with the instructions, I add 70 grams commercial pectin-based jam setting mix before disssolving 2kg sugar and boiling for six minutes. I pour this jam into small jars. A fancy label and it’s a nice gift to give from my garden.

 Son’ s Raised Garden Beds  Number Two son’s plantings have flourished since he became a gardening convert late last year. His peas are almost finished and the sweetcorn is ripening. There are no hard or fast rules in his gardening style – flowers and edible plants mingle as they do in my garden. I’m amused to note he too has taken to going walkabout in the garden with mop-haired two-year old pea-picking son in tow.

Author: Jenny

My garden is where I lose myself, or as Himself likes to tell others, I lose either my coffee mug or wine glass. Well at least I put them on a gatepost so they are easily found. As I see it, we are here on this place to respect and to preserve nature, not to develop the land. I love how the totara trees stand in silent witness to our human activity. They keep me honest. I love to wander along the stream bank. I like being able to grow fruit and vegetables. I enjoy green open space. My son challenged me to write a blog using my garden diaries to start. Writing a blog is quite different to my diary scribblings. It is for a different audience. In every post, I have to make a conscious effort to get free of an academic style of writing. I write about things I know and do in my everyday life. I am not a photographer but the images I use are taken by me. I believe this adds veracity to my voice in each post. Learning to setup and to manage a blog has been a major effort and remains a work in progress. Who knows where this will lead. Himself and I thought we had retired, about to define this older phase of our life together. But family commitments continue. As it happens, I share this place with Himself, son and grandsons and living creatures who live charmed existences. I watch on as they serve as actors weaving their ways across the stage of daily life. Shakespeare wrote in As You Like It: All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances; Always, there's something to write about life lived as I know it.

12 thoughts on “My Garden ~ early autumn

  1. You garden is gorgeous! I’m rather jealous of your fruitfulness – I haven’t quite figured out desert gardening yet. So far, I’ve managed rosemary, lavender, cilantro (coriander), and lots of potted flowers. I have all this room in my yard and nothing in it yet. This year, though, hopefully I’ll be able to get started on my plans.

  2. Great stuff here. I will need to come back and look more closely at the pics while reading the post. I especially life the notion of a slice of pumpkin as you described it.

    I wish my kids got into gardening when they were two like your grandson. But I have one grown son that is as fanatical as I. Its fun to talk plants with him!

  3. Thank you billedoux. Dreaming and planning is what I’ve done for so long that I tend to somewhat surprised as it were that I ever got started and that there’s this fruitful end result. I’m reminded in21of the words of the song posted on your blog that when I’m in my garden …
    All shall
    be well,
    and all shall
    be well,
    and all manner
    of thing
    shall be well.

  4. Absolutely!

    There is another one we sing where one of the lines is:

    Though the road may be muddy and rough, we will get there
    Heaven knows how, but we’ll get there!

    I look at my garden today after drenching rains and wonder how it will become the thing of beauty I remember from last year.

    Heaven knows how, but it will get there!

  5. Hey Jenny

    Thanks for posting such lovely pictures. Your garden is amazing! I think I’ve mentioned before that I am very jealous – its still quite cold in the UK and gardeners are excited and scurrying around preparing for the new season.

    I, too, spend a lot of time planning and dreaming – all part of the fun…

    Best wishes

  6. Thank you in21 for the inspirational Hug song words which comforted close family members this weekend as we supported each other when a nephew had a serious accident. Thank you Keener. When you are harvesting the fruits of your labours my garden will be showing its bare-bones and we’ll be concerned with chopping firewood to keep our house warm. There’ so much excitement inherent in your preparations for your new growing season. Cheers Jenny.

  7. I am so sorry to hear about your families troubles. I am glad you could find some comfort in some way.

    We experienced 4 seasons in 2 days this weekend. We had blustery spring weather that turned into nearly summer temps which then turned to a cloudy fall day and finally we woke up to snow on the ground and falling on Sunday morning. By noon the snow was gone and it was back to a late winter, early spring day.

    Needless to say, many of us spent Saturday in the garden preparing beds and planting early bulbs/tubers. I have had great luck with Dahlias in the past and I am building a bit of a dahlia zone with multiple varieties.
    I love bringing them to the office so I have a bit of my garden with me at work (in my windowless office).

    My prayers to you and your family and your nephew.

  8. Dahlias are wonderful – the different colours and forms are dazzling. You must have a good growing situation. I imagine the colours of the flowers are quite intense when bulbs and tubers are planted in colder regions. This month I’ll be planting daffodils under the trees along our driveway in readiness for spring.

    Part of me would welcome some snow as a relief from the late summer humidity and the dry conditions we’re experiencing. We get vehicle generated dust from the unsealed rural road where we we live. Trees on the road boundary filter most of the dust, so that’s good.

    Thank you for your kind thoughts. Cheers Jenny.

  9. Jenny said – “You must have a good growing situation.”

    I am in heaven as far as gardening is concerned. I was in Florida for most of my adult life and growing things was fun but the diversity of what I could grow was limited.

    I bought a house here in North Carolina last year, so this will be only my 2nd full season with this garden. In Zone 6/7 here, I can grow just about anything you can find in a catalog. I had about 4 dahlias last year and they just had a happy time of it with no bugs or diseases to worry about. This year I will have 20 or so going in multiple colors.

    My garden is visible from the dining room table, so meal times are so much more enhanced by the visual splendor in the spring and summer.

    Crocuses just blooming now and a few daffodils are showing off their sunny yellow flowers!

  10. That’s a beautiful explanation of your garden. I too have P.Whitefield’s forest garden book it’s very inspirational.

  11. What I like about Whitefield is that he argues for choosing a low impact lifestyle and working efficiently in ways that foster healthy and growing ecosystems in our backyard gardens so that there is harmony between the land and people.

    I’ve just glanced the front cover of TIME (March 12) ‘Forget Organic. Eat Local’ and quote John Cloud, “The best food you can eat may be in your backyard … one man’s quest for the perfect apple”. I ‘ll just have to read this article more closely.

  12. I am looking for the address to subscribe to the monthly magazine SA Gardener. It is also available in Afrikaans but I would like the English version. Please can you help me? I am desperate.



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