Sunday, 2 September 2012

Winter wrap - '12

Winter here in Sydney has been a season of two halves.  The first part of winter was decidedly wet and the second half quite dry -  a harbinger of the return of the little boy  El Nino? The last part of winter has also been unseasonably warm - I am not complaining....

Here are some of my observations from this winter.


  • cabbage - mine have been savoy
  • cauliflower - these were fabulous
  • broccoli
  • snow peas
  • spring onions
  • lemons, lemons, lemons
  • limes
  • fennel
  • rocket
  • herbs - rosemary, thyme, oregano, bay and mint towards the late part of winter
  • some chillies in the early part of winter
  • some sunflowers in the early part of winter

What I have learnt
  • lime your brassica patch lest you get mini caulies
  • broccoli is less fussy liming-wise than caulies
  • snow peas are heaven on a stalk
  • my mint needs more winter sun
  • never take your parsley for granted - it can lure you into a false sense of supply cause it lives for two years, but when it's time is up, it's up and you are left without even a sprig
  • fennel loves lots of water - it will grow well without it and produce lovely bulbs, but when it gets water a plenty, the bulbs are fat and white and juicy
  • plant more fennel in succession
  • late winter chives are incredibly flavoursome 
  • bok choi is pretty and easy
  • brassicas planted in winter avoid the cabbage moth when they are babies but get the moth visiting in late winter - but by that time they are growing strongly and are little affected
  • this year I was rubbish at having something to pick in late winter - I still have my second crop of brassicas in the ground and only now forming heads!
  • prunning your citrus in late summer and again when the growth re-awakens is a good thing to do
  • the beans you dried in summer are fantastic for winter meals
  • baby rainbow lorikeets have black eyes and beaks
  • lemon trees are sacred

  • lemons all winter
  • the beauty of a cauliflower
  • seeing my first blueberries flower and form fruit
  • thyme flowers
  • the glut of lime flowers and miniture forming fruit
  • the birds that visit my garden - rainbow lorikeets and currawongs especially
  • Half-tail would be a comedian if s/he was a human


  1. Sounds like you got a lot out of your winter harvests! You have inspired me to try bok choi - I always thought it was difficult but now I think I will give it a go. Any tips?

    1. Not really. It seems to like a shady spot and lots of water so perhaps winter growing is better than summer. It raises pretty easy from seed which is always nice. Good luck!

  2. I like you savoy cabbage I think it is much nicer than ordinary green. Perhaps I should do something with my cauliflowers they have huge leaves but not head, but then broccoli is so much easier. Hmm like the details about the lorikeets.

    Looking forward to spring and it's lovelies

    1. I like savoy cause its less 'cabbagey' than ordinary hard soccer ball like cabbage. You wait! The caulis will succeed. They are tricky caulies. Just when you think nothing will happen their little inner leaves start curling in and hiding away is a little cauli all white and lovely.

      Yay spring!

  3. I will definitely lime next year re your advice on cauli's. My red cabbage are only just forming heads now - is savoy quicker or did you plant earlier? Your fennel looks beautiful - I'm still looking around my garden trying to find a space to cram some in...

    1. I planted the first lot of savoy's in February I think? Maybe early March at the latest. My second planting are a long way off. But your red cabbages look so beautiful.

  4. i'm in awe of your brassica success! When I tried cabbages the grubs had a feast and we were left with some very pretty but indelible 'lace' cabbage leaves. maybe it was too warm… it was in queensland and we probably planted in summer or something silly. we had great success with bok choy, but found if we left them too long they became bitter.

    thanks for visiting my blog and leaving your lovely comment. i'll definitely be heading back here for planting advice now we're livin in melbourne.

    1. In Sydney I plant my cabbages in Feb or early March. Stop me if I am telling you something you already know... but you have to keep a close watch on the grubs. Start your surveillance when the moths are laying eggs and wipe the little yellowish eggs off from the underside of the leaves. Then if /when the grubs start munching, go on a daily squashing round. You will get 'lacy' outer leaves but as the weather cools the grubs disappear and the leaves start turning in.

      I think bok choi is prob grown best in winter in a little dappled shade making sure it gets enough water.

      Enjoy Melbourne - my fav Australian city and keep knitting.

  5. Great post. I'll take quite a few of those lessons on board. Mmmm my caulis are huge but no heads yet..hope it isn't too late. Agree completely with lemons and bok choi. Bok choi is my favourite shade veggie in summer (along with silverbeet).

    1. Thanks Lanie. I am sure your caulies will succeed. They play tricks on you. They make you think they are not doing anything and then suddenly, there is a lovely little white head!

  6. Gosh what profusion! I think we planted too late? Must plant now before it,s too hot. Our bok choy bolted when we weren't looking

  7. Lime lime lime - I always forget it and then don't know whether it's safe to just add after the seedlings have gone in. Totally agree about the parsley - I have none at the moment apart from some tiny self-seeded curly stuff. Must plant more soon!

    1. I am no expert but I have and do sometimes add lime after I have put the seedlings in. I sprinkle on surface and then rough it up a little with the Dutch hoe to get it into the surface a little and then water.

      Glad I am not the only one to be lulled into a false sense of glut with parsley.

  8. Your winter harvest is much better than my summer.. I am jealous... :) Your limes are so cute!

    1. Oh thanks Marina. I cant wait for summer though!

  9. I've just planted some globe artichokes - never tried them before. But I love eating them, so I figure it's worth a try. And anyway, they have stupendous leaves so at least they'll be interesting to admire.

    1. Oh wow! They are famously hardy plants. Almost noting harms them. I am sure they will go well. I have never grown them but they are fabulous looking and eating.



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