Solstice is either the longest or the shortest day of the year, depending on which hemisphere you are in.
Traditionally, Solstice was the time to plant and pull garlic but, with climate change, everything is evolving, with a lot of gardeners planting and pulling their garlic before the longest and shortest day of the year.
In New Zealand, especially in the upper north island, we have been plagued over the last few years with rust on garlic and small bulbs that have not plumped up, so things are changing and we must adapt with them.
An avid gardening friend of mine has found that elephant garlic is the only type of garlic that she can grow in our humid areas. Elephant garlic is a member of the leek family, so this is why we probably have more success with it.
This will be my last blog of 2017, as I approach Christmas with my family and friends in the darkness and cold of the English winter.
Reflecting upon my life of growing food over the past year, it has certainly taken many twists and turns. After spending the past five years growing and developing large food gardens for restaurants, I took the plunge and left employment to form my own company – Grow Inspired – with the aim of coaching and guiding people with their own garden development.
I find I grow inspired every day, sharing my passion and know-how with you and watching you learn – it has been a great success and incredibly rewarding.
My other big passion, that goes hand-in-hand with growing food, is composting on a small and large scale, and this has really taken off too. I have taught over 400 people this year alone in the art of composting their own food scraps and garden waste.
I have been honoured to have been featured in the New Zealand Herald’s Viva and the Natural Parenting magazine and, by far, my biggest highlight has been my invite to the EM Research Centre in Sara Buri in Thailand. At the farm, I got to see over 70 hectares of food growing using EM and Bokashi, which was incredible. It has inspired me even more and I will be drawing on my learnings in next year’s hands-on workshops and courses.
Next year will see a new and exciting project for me after securing funding through the Sustainability Centre to educate and implement large scale Bokashi into five of Waiheke Island’s vineyards, starting in April!
I have also been invited back to the EM farm in Thailand to give a talk on my experiences with EM over the past 10 years (a real honour) to a global audience of equally impassioned and knowledgeable EM innovators.
I am going to be offering educational courses over 6 week periods, weekend workshops and, of course, more composting classes which will be live at various gardens around Waiheke Island, Auckland and possibly around the wider country. As we head into winter, I will begin offering pruning courses for your fruit trees.
My purpose next year is to share as much of my 30 years of knowledge as I can to enable people to grow good organic food in the simplest way possible.
I thank you all from the bottom of my heart for your incredible support and belief in me and my journey; without you, all this would not have been possible.
I will be looking for gardens to demonstrate the above courses in, so if you have one and would like to be part of it, please send me an email through my website.
I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a good growing New Year.
See you in January – here’s to 2018!