In the lead up to Christmas, big gardening projects get put on hold but it’s always rewarding to wander the garden and check the results of the previous months’ work.
When my feijoa “Unique” finished fruiting in May, I gave it a good prune. It is said that a bird should be able to fly, or at least hop, through the branches, and considering that birds are the main pollinators of the flowers, it sounds pretty essential to me. I thinned out some branches and pruned off others dragging near the ground. The tree looked a lot sparser but I’m now being rewarded with an abundance of beautiful festive flowers and plenty of blackbirds.
I hope the blackbirds enjoy feijoa flowers more than strawberries because mine have just started fruiting, after a slow start. I grow “Seascape” which is an ‘everbearing’ strawberry producing fruit intermittently during the spring, summer and autumn. Mine tend to do best late summer when cheap strawberries have disappeared from the shops, so they are all the more enjoyable. The fruit are not large but are packed with flavour. I save up all the little ones and those not so good to eat fresh, in the freezer and make a strawberry sauce for ice cream.
Here’s the recipe:
450g strawberries, whole and chopped
½ cup sugar
¼ cup water or orange juice
Juice & finely grated zest of ½ lemon
1 tbsp butter
Combine sugar, water/orange juice and lemon juice. Bring to a light boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add lemon zest and strawberries. Heat through then stir in butter. Use warm over ice cream.
My vege patch is small so I grow only those things I really like – one of which is peas. My favourite variety is Egmont Seeds “Easy Peasy”, a prolific producer and the pods consistently have 8 or 9 and occasionally up to 11 peas each. I hardly get a look in with them on the dinner plate as they are preferred raw by my teenager and I can’t grow enough to keep up with demand.
Hydrangeas are great fillers in the garden and the colour of blue and pink varieties may change depending on the soil. I planted “Blue Prince” a few years ago, hoping for blue flowers each year. The first year they changed dramatically to a definite pink so that said a lot for my soil. Hydrangeas react to the acidity or alkalinity of the soil (called pH). In an acid soil, they flower blue and in an alkaline soil they flower pink. White hydrangeas are always white but may age with tinges of colour. I’m not a fan of pink so two or three times a year after flowering I’ve drenched the soil with a tablespoon of aluminium sulphate dissolved in 9 litres of water. The results are showing reasonably well this year but the pink flowers on one side beg the question, do the roots support certain sides of a plant?
If you want to know more about changing hydrangea colour, check out this site http://www.hydrangeashydrangeas.com/colorchange.html