The First Week of Autumn

I don’t know what happened to summer this year, it’s been cooler than usual, cloudier than usual and has gone in a blur . The firewood has started coming, the garden is dying off in a mess of wilting foliage. The only good thing about autumn is the fig, pumpkin and feijoa harvests, smiling sunflowers…then it’s just one big clean up and the wintering down off most of it. 

The garden:

Roger is grinning from ear to ear today….we finally got his bees. We have been waiting for a year or so for a hive to come up cheaply and it did. They aren’t cheap, but this was 1/2 the price we usually see them for. The man he bought them from this morning assured us there would be 30 kg of honey from this box, additionally there would be beeswax and the pollination of vegetable plants and fruit trees. We then had to buy a book on keeping bees which was not cheap either…..I think the first new book I have bought in decades.


Mittens early morning routine of watching the chooks being fed. It’s a good thing they are behind a huge fence I think.Image

The leeks are growing well, the zucchini are dying off and behind them a mass of pumpkins and ripening wine grapes.




A pumpkin invasion.Image



The tomatoes are nearing the end. With such a cool summer we didn’t get nearly as many as I had hoped for despite planting extra plants. We got heaps but not enough for the year, I will be buying some!


Silverbeet (Chard) self seeds everywhere. We have masses of it, we eat alot of it and the chooks love it.


Beans and beetroot still growing but not much longer for the beans.Image


The herbs are nearing the end for many, the big herb garden has been covered with peastraw to build up the soil and keep weeds down over winter. The oregano flowering.Image

In the glasshouse we have peppers and chillis just fruiting/ripening and one enormous tomato plant that doesn’t have alot of fuit, is keeping sun off the other plants but Roger is very proud of it:)


In November we decided to journal all our harvesting to see how much we could grow. So far, in three months it is up to nearly 300 kg (2.2 lbs to kg I think?) of fruit, vegetables and berries. There is still alot to come. This from our garden which is probably 1/8 acre. 

The kitchen:

I have been making tomato sauces, both barbecue sauce and a ketchup. We love both of these recipes. I save my olive oil bottles for tomato sauce, I have done 4 litres, maybe another 4 will do.



And started some Blackberry Liqueur.


And it’s soup season, another thing to be thankful to autumn for 🙂 




These are some of the guys from Vanuatu, they came last night for farewell drinks…all rather shy of the camera 🙂 These guys come over to work in the vineyards and we know them well now. This is the summer crew. We were talking last night about their lives…they either have family land or buy a small area for very little, build their houses from wood they chop down, live in small villages and their food is practically free. They grow their own vegetables, eat mostly seafood they catch and occasional chickens (usually for ceremonial meals) and their fruit and coconuts are picked freely from the thousands of trees that grow naturally. That’s their diet and for all our food groups and daily requirement lists….these guys are truly fit and healthy. They speak between 3 and 4 languages and are honest, hardworking, proud but humble people. Vanuatuans have twice been voted the world’s happiest in the world. I just thought I would add all this after the other day’s grumpy post about dissatisfaction 🙂 🙂


23 thoughts on “The First Week of Autumn

  1. It’s been a shocker of a summer Wendy, so I am not surprised your harvest is down a bit. It is so amazing to me that you grow so much on such a small space. Do you rotate crops? [I mean does Roger rotate crops? :-)] It is such an example to everyone of what can be achieved in an ordinary kiwi garden.

    I love the photo of Mittens watching the hens – such intent interest! The photos make your garden seem pretty lively still – except the tomato leaves are obviously drying out and starting to die back – I would love to grow my own tomatoes. Must make that an aim for next spring! I do hope we will get a decent summer next year – fingers crossed!

    I remember a post you wrote about the poor treatment the Vineyard workers were receiving last year some time. Are these the same folk? It is so lovely that you have befriended them and looked out for them. You and Roger are Good People!


    • It has been a terrible summer. There is still plenty there but it won’t last much longer, signs of everything dying down. Another month should see most finished. It was such a long season last year, I guess asking too much to get two in a row!

      I loved that photo of Mittens too 🙂 He watches them every morning without fail, it’s like he’s sitting in front of tele.

      Roger does rotate crops 🙂 He will fill spaces as soon as they empty with a different type of vegetable, green follow root crops etc but doesn’t have specific areas, all pretty random.

      Yes, it does go to show what can be grown in a back yard…every year we aim to get more as we learn.

      Yes, these are the men I wrote about. One is cut out because I was standing above him and looked terrible 🙂 🙂 Apparently I have been a good “Mother” to them, eek, it never occurred to me they were so young I could be seen as a mothering person 🙂 They are great people, we have been privileged to know them.


  2. The arrival of Autumn has sort of pulled the rug from under me vege garden wise. I have a handful of tomatoes forming and my first female pumpkin flowers have their tiny marble sized pumpkins awaiting the flowers to form for fertilisation. They took FOREVER to come up due to our cold start to summer and just haven’t matured. So much for the 100 pumpkin seeds I’d planted. Barely half came up (too cold when it should have been temperate for sprouting) and then too hot and dry. Thankfully I have some pumpkins on my buttercup pumpkin but not nearly enough to see us through. I can’t hope for the summer to stretch into May which I’d need to see their fruit ripen. 😦
    My corn have struggled too, my capsicums have their first flowers BUT I have already harvested a good spud harvest out the front and that’s about 1/2 of my spuds. The rest will wait until they are frosted. 🙂 At leaast that;s something.
    I’m already planning for Autumnal planting and winter crops and thankfully I’ve been getting ready for them this year. Last year was only fluke on anything besides the alliums. I actually went shopping today and bought lots of brassica seedlings. It may be a little early for them but I’d rather lose them than miss it and tomorrow we’re starting off seeds for a heap more. 🙂

    Your gardens fill me with envy I must say. They are beautiful, prolific and envy inducing (the nice kind of envy 😉 ). Your bottling makes me wish for my bulk produce to get stuck in too. Time for a trip to the market methinks for many kilos of marties. 🙂 I think 100kg should do us. 😀


    • That’s a shame, I remember when you planted your pumpkin seeds and how hopeful you were (we were like that with our potatoes) Every year there seems to be disappointing crops.

      We can grow very little in winter, the frost just sits in the big garden so summer it’s important to get what we can. Yes, I am going to have to buy a whole lot more tomatoes. This year we planted twice as many as last year and probably got less than half on last year. Very disappointing….but we have had beans and zucchini for Africa. No giving Mother nature a shopping list to comply to!!


      • Wouldn’t that be nice! Here Gaia, here’s my list and requirements. Warm days, gentle fluffy clouds skitting by to share shade at times, rain between say 3-6am only and never on washing lines of left out washing, gentle breezes and a magic fairy to wave her wand and move the 10 tons of necessary compost, mulch and anything else to where it’s needed. *snort* who am I kidding.
        We’ve had the perfect amount of zukes but nothing else bar the spuds. Nothing I can do now though but lessons well learned.


      • Ah yes, we have learned this year too. Yes, wouldn’t that be nice but I am afraid we are so inconsequential we just get what she gives us….good and bad 🙂 Wouldn’t it be nice to have help with those bigger jobs though! Roger gave some of our trees and hedges a cut yesterday, the mess to clean up is very large!


  3. Your gardens are beautiful:-) What a abundant life you life + how you surround your self with amazing people. Very beautiful place you have created:-) Your mittens looks like my cat “simon” which is a long hair too…so sweet, I don’t have chickens, but even they are filled with beauty-wow an amazing place!


    • Thanks Robbie 🙂 We have areas of mess that don’t get photographed so don’t be deceived 🙂 But it is pretty…to think when we came here I hated working out there because it was so barren and lifeless. Mittens is a lovely puss, I am so glad we got him. My quiet time is spent with him, I forgot how soothing cats can be 🙂


    • Thank you 🙂 Vanuatu is a group of islands in the Pacific. I wish we could go there to see in person, the plan is to go “one day” when money allows because it sounds like paradise. But, it is being bought out by Chinese and Indians and that’s a sad thing.


  4. Hi Wendy. Your garden still looks so green and lovely. Mine has a considerable amount of ‘crispy’ bits. But this isn’t really very surprising as I checked the Metservice history and we have only had 11mm of rain in the last 30 days! It has been a big job watering everything this season. But despite the rain or lack of – it wasn’t a hot summer either. Too many clouds.
    Lets hope we get a lovely autumn – one that does what is should before we descend into winter.
    Cheers Sarah : o )


  5. Congratulations on the bees! One of my brothers in law (the one in New Mexico) got bees this year. We don’t email, and I forgot to ask my sister how they are doing. Years ago, when we lived in the big log house, we caught a swarm in our orchard. We backed the VW van up under the branch, my husband climbed up with a hand saw and cut through the branch. I was standing only a foot or so away, waiting to hand him a box to put them in, I think. Of course, we hadn’t expected the swarm to be so heavy; they sort of crashed onto the roof of the van, exploded sideways like an upside down mushroom cloud and I ended up with thousands of bees all over my head and shoulders! Good thing I’m not excitable . . . I gave a wee jump back (just one!) and stood still. I found out later they won’t sting if they are swarming, but I didn’t know that then . . . After a bit, with the sawn-off branch in a large box, the bees re-grouped and all was well. We got a hive and extra frames from someone close by who had bees and they did well at first. Then, when summer came, everything dried up and there were no flowers. I was reluctant to feed them sugar water (my ‘no sugar’ days!) so, unfortunately, they starved to death. A big lesson, as we would have loved having our own honey and were more than willing to do the work.

    Do you know that an old wringer washing machine can be adapted to serve as a honey extractor? It can . . .

    I haven’t looked at your tomato sauce and ketchup recipes yet, but I will. Are you going to post the liqueur one, too? (hint, hint) I can’t make my own just now, but perhaps one day . . .

    Sad to see the gardens coming to an end, but good to look ahead to days by the fire (or on the computer LOL), reading, enjoying your harvests, crafting. I suppose you will be working still, so not as much free time during the week, but still, the weekends will be nice. After the clean-up, of course. Not my favourite part of gardening. Good thing you have Roger to help with all that.

    That soup looks yummy! You are lucky I’m too far away to drop in for meals in an inconvenient fashion . . . 😉

    Nice to see the Vanuatans, too. You are so sweet, not only making friends, but standing up for them, too. I feel so badly for peoples who lose their lands to ‘invaders’, then have to leave home for so long just to make the money to survive. It’s so sad.

    Well, hope you have a longer autumn than you expect, and that it’s warm enough to help with the harvest. It’s been weird weather all over this year.

    Have a great week, Wendy!


    • What an experience with the bees! lol. I would’ve freaked. Roger has put sugar syrup down there already and they seem to be doing fine. He is very excited. No, I had no idea about the old wringer but will look that up, thanks 🙂

      Yes, I will be posting the liqueur soon, was just waiting for the first bottling of it which incidently, I am doing today

      Roger is not a fan of soups unless starving but I love them, they are my favourite meals apart from salads, so I have everyday for lunch in the colder seasons. That was a spicy vegetable and bean 🙂 Very yummy!

      The Vanuatans are truly lovely people, no bullshit type of people 🙂 They are simple and easy, what you see is what you get and there is no pretense. It is not until you meet folk like this do you realise how bad we westerners at complicating life!

      Be nice if you could drop in Linne, I expect we would have much to coffee over and giggle about 🙂 You know where to come for a holiday should you ever win great money from somewhere! I am glad we have met here 🙂

      By the end of autumn I expect I will be pleased for lots of indoors time and some hibernation with little work – some me time, without quakes this year to rattle one up for months 🙂


  6. Guess who only just made it to “Q” in her cram packed full RSS Feed Reader? 😉 Bees eh? I am going to watch your bee experiment to see how it goes with mucho interesto…Mittens is a good kitty unlike the white goshawk that has been predating the poor long suffering orphaned baby chicks in our outside enclosed roost (but not from above…sigh…). Your house looks so lovely with those grapes growing :). I WOULD have a pumpkin invasion aside from the possum’s intervention… “Next year you bollocks I will be ready for you!” 😉 I am yet to have silverbeet self sow. This year the invading possums ate it all! I will get hold of some decent heritage seeds this year and grow mine. I am tired of punnet silverbeet that don’t perform 😦

    I am SERIOUSLY impressed with your harvest Wendy. I am very keen to get our veggie garden up and producing some serious food next season and will be very grateful of your help when I have any questions because you guys are obviously doing something right :). I also love that you guys are so cosmopolitan and are actually living what you preach 🙂


    • oh, I thought you seriously was not speaking to me over the vodka thing lol (actually I thought you must be heads down studying) and was feeling very sorry for you.

      Just ask away for help when you need it – god knows how you deal with those possums though, it must drive you to despair! That wonderfully monstrous cage just has to work otherwise you might just have to have possum heads on sticks around your entire boundary!!!! Ugh, the thought lol.

      We are probably not doing much different that you guys Fran, we just don’t have draught, possums, quolls etc to sabotage all our efforts. Where there is a will there’s a way though, I am sure.


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