Winter, Seeds and Sunshine

Well, we’re over halfway now – past the winter solstice! As I said to the chickens this morning, that means the days are getting longer again and they should start laying a few more eggs soon. At the moment most of my girls are freeloading but one of the Isa Brown hens (affectionately known as B1) is still laying about five eggs a week, for which I’m very grateful ❤

Although we’ve had some cold weather, it’s been surprisingly mild the last week or so, with cold mornings and mostly sunny days. But this is Tasmania, and we usually get our worst weather through July and August.

Also, I’ve been sick again. There’s been some horror viruses doing the rounds and I seem to have caught most of them this year! Nevertheless, my immune system is better than it was. A few years ago I would’ve ended up with bronchitis or pneumonia instead of a cold, and I’m sure these last few years of eating mostly home grown, organic produce has contributed positively.

Today, I spent some time in the yard after feeding the animals and really enjoyed the sunshine. The mild weather has seen new (and relatively large) spears on the asparagus, heaps of growth on the cabbages, broccoli and salad greens and flower buds forming on the broad beans. Unbelievably, there’s still a few raspberries on my neglected canes but I’ll be cutting them back over the next week, weeding the bed and mulching it heavily in preparation for another summer of delicious berries.

In the greenhouse, I collected another pocketful of fresh chilies, which is incredibly impressive for July and some of my potato experiments are starting to shoot. I also did a quick check of some blueberry cuttings I did in autumn and they look very promising. Some of the chilies are starting to show classic signs of magnesium deficiency, yellowing of the leaves.


This is really common in pot grown heavy feeders, such as chilies and citrus is an indication that the plants have exhausted nutrients in the potting mix. It’s also quite easy to rectify, with a foliar spray of manganese sulphate, (aka epsom salts) and feeding with a nitrogen-rich fertiliser. In the case of this particular chili, it’s been flowering and fruiting non stop since last September. I’m planning to cut it back at the end of winter and repot into a fresh, rich mix for the growing season as well. Epsom salts is easy to find in supermarkets or hardware stores and I mix two tablespoons in a bucket (about nine liters) and use a misting bottle to make sure both sides of the leaves are covered.

The rhubarb is still an ongoing project – I got sick in the middle of lifting and dividing all the crowns but the ones that don’t have new homes yet are heeled into the side of the bed until I’m well enough to get that job finished!

Wandering around the garden in the sunshine did get me thinking about what I want to plant this spring and summer and seeds arrived in the post today from Rangeview Seeds who are up in Derby in northern Tasmania.

So tonight I’ve sat on the couch and sorted through all my packets of seeds, something I do every winter. It’s a daunting but oddly satisfying task, working out what’s out of date and what to keep. This year too, there’s been an outrageous number of my own packets, particularly with chili seeds! (I will do a post devoted to propagating chili seed in the next few weeks too).


I think it’s the sheer potential embodied in all those packets that intrigues and inspires me. All the possibilities of delicious salads and preserves, food shared with loved ones and flowers that occasionally grace the table too ❤

Tomorrow, Australia votes in the longest federal election campaign in something like 80 years. Frankly, I’m well over it, despite being a student of politics and having worked as political analyst many years ago! I’m not a big fan of either of the old parties and sadly, I think it unlikely that the Australian people will be winners no matter who forms government. Nevertheless, I refuse to submit to cynicism and intend to make my vote count – particularly in the Senate. And after the mandatory voting, I’ll be retreating to the garden for some more sunshine therapy 😀

As always, wherever you are and whatever you’re doing on this beautiful planet, go gently, be safe, happy and well ❤

7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. narf7
    Jul 02, 2016 @ 05:57:24

    Another excellent post, well worth reading. Can’t wait for the chilli propagation post. Our property is a quagmire of mud, our driveway got washed away in the “Great flood of 2016” period and its very lucky we have a 4 x 4 or we would have to walk from the gate to the house every time we left the property. We just started sealing up the 24 fridges that we are going to turn into water wicking beds inside Sanctuary yesterday as we are officially on our school holidays now. We are both still sick with that cold. I am thinking it just mutates and keeps coming back in new clothes to thrash us over again. Whatever it is, we are heartily sick of it! I have to lift and move my old blueberries (inherited them) from where they are currently half dying to a new spot this year and this growing season is going to be very interesting as we attempt to grow maximum veg on minimum water. Lots of hard work but very exciting at the same time. Loving this garden lark 🙂

    Liked by 1 person


    • Debra Manskey
      Jul 02, 2016 @ 10:32:24

      Thanks for your lovely words 🙂
      I wondered how you were faring! I’m cutting up and preparing plastic drums for wicking tubs for fruit trees. All on hold until the germs pass – but the trees will likely be here next week

      Liked by 1 person


      • narf7
        Jul 02, 2016 @ 14:36:38

        I have some dwarf citrus just plodding along that I am going to replant into the freezer bit of the fridge wickers. I am going to plant as many of my perennial fruit bearing plants (berries etc.) into chest freezer wickers, as possible so that I will use a whole lot less water this season. VERY excited about the possibilities. I am really enjoying your blog posts as you are a. in my region and b. an excellent blogger 🙂 I hope you are doing well despite this awful cold/flu that we all seem to be sharing between each other. If you ever need a free website, let me know. I would love to make you one 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Debra Manskey
        Jul 02, 2016 @ 16:13:37

        Oh! You’re so kind!! By the way, I wear the beanies you sent me heaps – and think of you when I do 🙂 They’re brilliant to keep my dreads out of the way when gardening and are so very warm xx

        Liked by 1 person

      • narf7
        Jul 03, 2016 @ 03:58:00

        Glad they both fit and are useful. Let me know if you need any more as they are also very easy to make 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. heidi ruckriegel
    Jul 04, 2016 @ 21:00:21

    Amazed you’ve kept your chillies going for so long! I harvest mine and put them in the freezer, one little bush is enough to last the year. Winter’s come back with a vengeance today as we still wait for the election outcome…. we could be waiting for some time, but at least some people have left. Sore losers they are, too. Not sorry to see them go.

    Liked by 1 person


    • Debra Manskey
      Jul 09, 2016 @ 20:51:32

      I eat a lot of chili! And I have different chilies for different uses – some we eat raw in salad, others are dried and used in marinades, curries, soups and stews and it’s always great to have fresh for stir fries. I’ve been keeping a rough track of what we use and it’s about 8-12 whole chilies per week. The moral of the story is you can never have too many chilies if you live in my house 😀
      Yes, the election has been interesting to say the least and I completely agree with you about the sore losers!



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