Gardening with Ruth
We have dug our main crop of potatoes and we got over 80kg from 6kg of seed. We should have enough to take us through the winter, but I want to plant another crop now to be sure.
However it is hard to find good seed potatoes at this time of year. We planted the variety Rudolph and the ones our grand daughters, Kiya and Daria, are holding are 800 and 650gms. They are solid all the way through as well.
I have a glut of rhubarb at present so if anyone would like some please contact me through the Post. I can drop off at our office in pukekohe or at Action Office Products Depot in Waiuku. It will be on a 'first in first served' basis.
We gave the glasshouse a good summer clean up a couple of weeks ago and now I am getting my seed trays out again and try to get ahead with seedlings for next spring’s planting. It seems ridiculous to be thinking of next spring when we are still having such beautiful weather and harvests, but that is the key to having a good crop—forward planning.
We are lucky enough to have free draining soil, which can be a challenge in the drier months as it needs plenty of watering. We also have raised gardens, so we can continue growing brasicas, carrots, beetroot, silverbeet, turnips, leeks and swedes all winter. But they need to be planted within the next month to ensure a good yield. Winter veges take a lot longer to mature so planting while the soil is still warm gives them a good start. As you finish salad veges and tomato crops replace with leeks, carrots, turnip and beetroot.
If you have hydrangeas why not try drying them for winter colour in your home. Pick the fading blooms and fill a vase with water. Place the blooms into it and leave them to drink all the water. This is an easy way to preserve them and the colours are beautiful.
I also take rose petals and dry them in the microwave so they can be used in potpourri. Remove petals and spread them on a paper towel. Microwave on high for around 20 to 30 seconds. When they feel ‘crisp’ they can be stored in air tight containers to be used at weddings or in a potpourri mixture.
I am also making spaghetti, bottling peaches and making strawberry compote with harvest from the garden. It is very rewarding to see the produce on the shelves ready for winter.
Some of you may have noticed a yellow hue in some of the market gardens around Pukekohe recently. It is what is known as a ‘cover crop’. Usually mustard or cress, and it is used to suppress weed growth. It is then mulched back into the soil to enrich it before planting winter crops. You can do the same on a smaller scale in your home garden, but be sure to mulch it before the seed sets as that will defeat the purpose of growing it in the first place!
Positive thinking:
The sun does not shine for a few flowers and trees but for the joy of the whole world. Henry Ward Beecher.

March by the moon:

1-9  Plant all crops that produce their edible parts above the ground. Plant out winter flowers.

10-11  Feed plants

12-15 Cultivate and weed

16-17 Spray to control winter diseases

18-22 Take a break but continue to harvest and weed

23-24 Sow root crops

25-31 Prepare soil for planting out early in April.

Caramel rhubarb pudding

3/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup sugar
100g butter melted
4 cups diced rhubarb stalks
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp cornflour
1/4 cup boiling water
Sift flour and baking powder into a bowl. Add rolled oats and white sugar, then mix in melted butter to make crust mixture. Put diced rhubarb into a greased ovenproof dish, such as a small lasagne dish or deep pie plate. Sprinkle crust mixture evenly over rhubarb. In the discarded bowl, combine brown sugar and cornflour. Spoon over the crust mixture. Carefully pour the boiling water over the top. Do not stir.
Bake for 30 minutes at 180°C.

Serve with custard or cream and if desired dust with icing sugar

Preserves ready for winter consumption

Daria and Kiya each with a 800gm and 650gm potato from our main crop