The Garden Diaries, January 2016

Whenever I visit friends who enjoy gardening, the first thing on the agenda is a tour around their vegetable patch and orchard, before we settle down to a cup of tea and a chat. So grab a cuppa or something stronger and take a stroll around my garden for a quick tour. The season has been harsh but things are on the mend.

Purple flowers of endive lettuce
Bee Attractors- the flowers of Endive lettuce

First up we have the tall blue and purple flowering lettuces, my bee and insect attractors and invaluable aid to the continued fertility of all the tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers and fruit trees. The bright cornflower blue flowers of the radicchio, now three metres high, are beacons to bees. The purple flowers of endive lettuce last for months, while the blue flowering borage plants magically appear on the lower levels. These lettuces self sow in early Spring, bolt towards the sky in late Spring and flower through summer. They are a gardener’s best friends.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


It’s seed harvesting time. All the main lettuces have gone to seed and have been hulled through my Turkish Celik, labelled and packed. The leek seed is close to collecting and makes an interesting garden specimen. Many species self sow, such as lettuce, radicchio, silver beet, coriander,parsley, tomato, pumpkin, zucchini and cucumber, though not all are retained. The garden beds become depleted quickly when taken over by the same species.

The tomato glut has caught up with the zucchini and it’s time to think about preserving. These golden tomatoes, giving literal meaning to the Italian pomodoro, are lovely sliced on toast or a pizza. The Roma tomatoes are prolific and good keepers, while my favourite, the Rouge de Marmande are still green.

cucumber flowers
Cucumber flowers through the mulch

As the heat will be with us for another two months, it’s time to apply another layer of mulch and to feed the older zucchini. I use organic sugar cane- it is expensive but goes a long way, and top this with crumbled old cow manure which I soak overnight in a bucket of water. As the zucchini have been productive for over two months now, they need a good feed.

early morning in the orchard
Early morning in the orchard

Last year was a pear year: this year is the turn of the Japanese plum. Hooray. I have waited for Satsuma and Mariposa plums for around four years and at last they have begun. Another week and they are all mine.

Satsuma plums
Satsuma plums
Quince in hiding
Quince in hiding
Table grapes ripening.
Table grapes ripening.

The Garden Diaries this time last year:

What’s happening in your garden? Do you keep a garden diary or journal?

26 thoughts on “The Garden Diaries, January 2016”

  1. Hi Francesca, How are you and the Mexican? Hope you both are doing well along with your lovely family. I am enjoying your postings.


    1. Hi Alessandra, Nice to hear from you again. Yes, that Mexican still likes an afternoon snooze. It’s super hot here- just like when you were here two years ago. I was thinking about you the other day when I was trying to plait the garlic. Hope all is well with you. xx


  2. Lovely! Mom is very fond of gardening and on our recent trip to the mountains she bought several new bulbs to put in small pots.. We have a lot right now. Flowers give so much happiness 🙂 I think a journal is a great idea!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes Julie, I have Satsumas but I’m not sharing them with anyone- I have waited so long for them to bear. We net early- the parrots here will eat them when they are still green, not like your polite NZ birds.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. You’ve such a lovely garden, Francesca. I know you’re going to enjoy those plums, having waited 4 years for them. Although I’ve a vegetable garden, it is far too small and our growing season too short to allow any plants to self sow. The only gardening that I do now, in the dead of winter, is to check my rose bushes for snow/ice damage. Unless spring comes early, we’re at least 6 weeks away from any of the plants showing any signs of rebirth. It’s a happy day, though, when the first sprouts/buds appear. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The hies of blue must be best for bees, so pretty. We are very beehind with pollinating so sadly no success with zucchini or pumpkin again this season. Even planting so many attracting flowers, zip! Very frustrating and sad. That is a lovely shot of the orchard in the morning, very autumnal almost. Thanks for the tour!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Catching up with comments and catching my breath too. I have been blogging like a maniac this month, partly because of the need to use all the produce and to also get away from the heat. I am wondering why the bees aren’t visiting your wonderful garden as there are so many flowering plants nearby. This is mighty odd. Do other locals have this problem with natural pollination?


  6. We’ve noticed less European bees here too although lots of native. The vege garden is a WiP just begun but we have the existing flowery summer trees & shrubs, and have been leaving the lawn long so there are dandelion flowers. I will remember to incorporate blue & purple flowers into the vege plants. I love a wander through a garden virtual, or otherwise.

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