The shortest day of the year and the garden’s winter light seems crisper, a dryness to the cool air. As I get older, I realise more and more my gardening is taking on aspects of the Nonnos and Nonnas among us, as if by osmosis… checking each day, touching the plant leaves, saving seeds, happiness at seeing healthy worms in the freshly turned over soil. Perhaps one day I’ll even start planting by the moon like many Italian gardeners do, instead of plonking plants in and hoping for the best.
Mandarins and rosemary are reigning in the vegie patch at present. I’m soon to pick my first mandarin for the season and each day keenly check their growing blush of orange. Meanwhile, the rosemary is like a forest and as well as using it in cooking, I’m starting to put rosemary wands in flower vases and love their scent when I touch them while going past.
There’s an Italian saying… where rosemary bushes grow large and bloom, the woman rules the house. I’m not sure about that, although it might make Roger laugh, I’m sure! But I do love how it makes me think of Nanna Francesca’s rosemary shrub and how my Mum grew it too. They were both strong yet gentle as needed be, forte e gentile, and if those qualities rule a house, then so be it. Happy winter solstice! Zoe xx
It’s usually feast or famine in my garden and while I’ve always wanted to be one of those people who have lots of magnificent flowers growing, it seems they never bloom much and then move on to the next life. As winter draws near and the garden is changing with the seasons, I’ve realised that over the spring and summer, I do have many flowers in the garden, it’s just that they usually end up turning into food!
They mightn’t be as big or spectacular as other flowers but they are very giving, both to us and the different wildlife that visit, so I do feel pretty grateful to have had these lovelies in the vegie patch over the warmest months. And they’ve been the start of what would later be picked to became part of many dishes that have ended up on the kitchen table!
Here’s just a few… Flowers from top left to right: eggplant (looks like a bunch of bananas in the middle!), lettuce, nasturtiums, tomato, mandarin, chilli, pumpkin, coffee and turmeric. (Sounds more like a pantry!) And last but definitely not least, very thankful for the bees and other insects that come to do their magic. 💛🐝
My vegie patch has been going well this spring – I’ve counted 36 tomatoes on the plants so far – and also coming along well is the corn (my first try growing it) and there’s eggplant, pumpkin, figs, plenty of pawpaws, lots of different herbs, nasturtiums, daisies and sunflowers on their way for the bees.
Unfortunately, there are also severe storms predicted and after the tomatoes copped some hail on Sunday, this morning I decided it safest to cover up the vegie patch with netting as best I could, being a short person! (I was also perhaps channelling Nonno Anni and his enthusiastic netting that he used to do for his fig trees! That said, hopefully the tent pegs and clothes pegs I’ve got holding it all in place do work.)
Really hoping the severity of the storms forecast doesn’t eventuate so that not just the garden but people and animals stay safe too. I’ve used this fine, white netting that is best for protection from hail as well as hungry visitors. (The other netting pictured that is black with larger holes is not very effective and it’s cruel as birds and flying foxes can’t see it as well and also get caught up in it and break their wings.)
I also wanted to say congratulations to everyone in Melbourne and thank you for your forbearance! Well done!! You’ve stayed in my thoughts and am so pleased for you all. Enjoy coming out of lockdown! As the Nonnas would say, Sempre avanti. Zoë xx
Doing things like an Italian you’d never have thought you would when growing up…
“Putting on the tree net to protect the figs.”
Yes, I did this last weekend and those familiar with Mezza Italiana will know there was a time I would never have imagined myself doing so. (Not sure my modest tree and net is any match for Nonno Anni’s past efforts! Although I think Roger’s makeshift stake of a star picket and old piece of hose is in keeping with honouring making do and not letting anything go to waste – no matter how it looks!) 😁😊💛