Even though winter is not quite finished, now is the time when all gardeners begin preparing for the season ahead. Planting seeds into trays indoors until the frosts pass. We are actually very lucky that we have not had a bad frost in our garden. I think it is because we are situated on top of a hill and the frost all settles in the valley below us. My winter garden, which I moved to my upstairs balcony, is coming back nicely. I must admit it was quite a setback losing so much of my plants to hungry chooks so unexpectedly but that is one of the things we have to deal with here. My Broadbeans are flowering now, my Kale have grown back all of their curly leaves and the silverbeet and asian greens are flourishing. My 3 remaining spinach plants are finally showing signs of getting somewhere. this variety seems to take a little longer to grow than I am used to, although I have never grown spinach from seed before so I think it is just another lesson I have to learn in patience.
My 3 Sunflower plants are living outside on my balcony as well along with my potted herbs which were sent to me as cuttings. The sunflower heads are almost opened and it won't be long before they show their vibrant yellow flowers. I have also planted another 18 seeds into trays on my windowsill and they are already bursting out of the soil. I really can't get enough of how easy these plants are to grow and the rewards are amazing! The seeds I have just planted are an Heirloom variety that were sent to me from a lady in the south island so it will be exciting to see them grow. I am also experimenting with rock melon seeds and the first of my pumpkin seeds that I saved from my very first harvest only months ago. If the plants take off then I will plant them out into the paddock where they can grow to their hearts content.
In the next few weeks I will also be planting Heirloom varieties of Tomato. I am very excited to be able to try some new varieties this year rather than just the same ones that we used to get from the garden centre every year. I am going to plant Tom Poms, Cherokee Purple and of course cherry tomatoes which my two girls go crazy over. These little red jewels barely make it into the house, my children love them so much. Any chance they get they would be in my garden plucking fruit off the plants and eating them until they burst. And that is one of the main reasons why I love growing my own fruits and vegetables so much. It is a real joy being able to see our children enjoy the fruits of our labours and knowing it is benefitting them in every way.
In addition to the family favourites, we will also be planting seeds for peas, beans, cucumber, capsicum, and knowing me, just about anything I can fit in. I have a tray of Swift seed Potatoes that are bursting with new shoots and just begging to be planted but because my Red Rascals are still taking up the potato patch, I have decided to try grow these ones in potato bags on my balcony. Swift potatoes are a first early variety. They only take 60-90 days to develop so will be perfect for what I am attempting. I still can't guaruntee that my Red Rascal potatoes have survived the winter but I can say that I sneakily dug up a tiny corner of the patch and saw half a doxen small red globes popping up so I will leave them for a few more months (If I can wait that long) and see if they can pull through.
I am also looking forward to planting corn this year. Last season I converted the large chicken run at our last property into a garden and filled half of the 6x6 metre area with corn. They were almost waist height and the ears were just developing when the farmers cows broke in and ate everything. Needless to say we won't have that problem this year.
All in all, I am really looking forward to getting my hands stuck into the soil again!

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