New Habitate website and fruit catalogue out now. Formerly known as Sutherland Nursery, http://www.habitate.co.nz is now the home of Habitate Heritage Fruits Nursery and Edible Landscape Design & Installation services of Jason Ross.
Here at George street orchard the season has been kind. Sap is subsiding and growth slows into remaining hardy greens. After finishing apples recently, only feijoas, Chilean guavas and poroporo remain for fruit. It’s a good time to take stock of the year’s yields and successes and to predict and plan for the next flush of opportunity.
Spring’s light spaces we now fill with garlic cloves and broad beans, divisions of chives, perennial leeks and Egyptian walking onions. Late summer and early autumn sown parsley, miners’ lettuce, kale and more has left no reason for bare ground. A few Jerusalem artichokes are left in the ground to harvest as we need (they don’t store well out of the ground), and we are finishing the last potatoes. The importance to temperate climates of these storable carbohydrates comes sharply into focus at this time of season.
Impending winter means less photosynthesis for all. Our challenge with chickens is to rotate them onto new runs lush with mixed greens and grubs, whilst timing their movements to accommodate our need to establish new plants from seed and human need for greens. Shortly before we move them we broadcast seed mixes, most of which is scratched in, some is eaten and survives. With mixed grazing and plentiful protein from vermicompost piles, the need for bought feed diminishes significantly. Let chickens have as much access to fresh plants and space as possible. If you can, grow plants for them to forage in and use kitchen waste to grow protein instead.
Through winter we will move any perennials we need to and expand our berry patches. As late winter comes we will replant potatoes and get moving on sowing tender vegetables in trays. For existing species we ask: do these plant(s) have what they need to thrive and reproduce? For anything new we want to introduce we ask: how can these plant(s) be incorporated into the patchwork so as to form a self-replicating population? In a small garden where you want it all, these ideas are more like a guiding star than a realistic outcome. For example, we can manipulate space and succession to crop plenty of tomatoes but without our intervention and indoor starts we are unlikely to harvest any. We know this from trial and error – from this process we learn what hardly needs to be gardened (e.g. parsley) and what needs a favourable hand.