Winter Solstice is a very special time of year for me, as it means a great big fire, toasting to the shortest daylight hours of the year, mid winter celebrations and huge gratitude to the garden for all the delicious organic produce it has produced for me and others over the past year.
What does Solstice mean?
The word ‘Solstice’ comes from Latin word ‘sol’, which means sun and ‘sistere’, which means to “stand still”. For winter Solstice, it means the sun’s path has reached its southernmost position and the next day, the sun will start its path northward.
This is the slowest growth time in the garden and traditionally a time to plant garlic, however living in the warmer part of New Zealand, growing good healthy garlic is a hard thing to do now with the temperatures rising and a lot of rust affecting these plants coming up to summer. The moon is also rising towards full moon, so not a good time to plant root crops. I will plant a couple of cloves on the solstice just out of tradition.
Celebrating the shortest day of the year for me means a great time to plan for spring, as the light will increase by a minute a day from now on, meaning spring will be here in no time! What motivation!
Solstice really signifies the first day of winter or summer, depending on what hemisphere you are in.
Planning for your spring garden can start now by doing things like preparing your beds for your spring plants; making a list of the plants you would like to grow; and planning your crop rotation, so your crops will grow in a different place than last year. This helps to utilise different parts of your soil and to ensure that the soil doesn’t harbour disease. Learn more about crop rotation here.
I generally spend this time preparing the garden, sorting out my seeds and making my plan for the spring ahead. This is so valuable as, then when spring arrives, I know exactly what I am doing and where everything is going to grow. This gives your plants their best chance for a productive season, harnessing the strengths of mother nature.
I also tend not to plant at this time of year, as the plants will just sit in the ground and look sad. This is not motivating for any living thing!
Saying that, the plants I put in the ground in May are going great guns! I’m just about to harvest my first cauliflower and my leeks are plumping up nicely. Also the green manure crop has grown to cover the soil, fixing its nitrogen content and the miraculous warmer temperatures mean I am still picking basil and tomatoes! A very strange feeling for winter – aren’t the seasons re-writing themselves! It makes it hard to keep up for any gardener!
A reminder to you all that this week’s newsletter is the launch of the ‘Knowledge Bed’, where you are invited to send me your questions to answer and we will build up your own beds of knowledge, sharing the learnings. Please keep them coming – I love to hear your frustrations and challenges, and to be able to help you to find solutions. To submit a question for next week’s Knowledge Bed, email me here. This content is exclusive to my newsletter subscribers, so sign up here if you haven’t already.
CELEBRATING – Grow Inspired turns one!
Wow! That year went fast! It was the first year of working for myself and it was a whirlwind.
I am proud to say that we have:
transformed over 100 gardens
started 80 new vegetable gardens
planted over 300 fruit trees
held 15 compost workshops
set up large scale composting at 5 restaurants/vineyards
consulted on over 50 gardens
developed 1 website
wrote and produced 45 blogs to share my knowledge
been featured on the front cover of Viva with a 2-page article
appeared in Nadia Lim’s magazine sharing 2-pages of tips to reduce waste
travelled to 5 projects around the country
had my first international skype consultation
and educated over 300 school kids on growing food.
Not a bad achievement for 365 days!
The highlight of this past year for me was my visit to the EM (effective microorganisms) Centre in Saraburi in Thailand. This was an amazing and inspiring experience, which has led to even more knowledge in my brain bank and, this spring, after 6 months of trials, Grow Inspired will be launching two new EM products into our online shop.
The first will be a supercharged microbial liquid organic food for your garden and the second will be a Septic Balance for your toilets, pipes, showers and septic tanks/fields. These products will be available to you from the middle of August.
Remember to sign up to my newsletter which gives you tips and tricks for the week, a guide on what to plant in alignment with the moon, exclusive special offers, first access to my workshops and the chance to be part of the ‘Knowledge Bank’.
To all of you out there who have been part of this incredible journey; from my incredible, hard-working team and my awesome, treasured clients, to my fellow gardeners who read my blogs and take the time to share your feedback and your questions; I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You each inspire me every day.
Sharing knowledge, connecting and supporting my community is a precious gift.
Happy gardening and Grow Inspired!