Anna's March Garden Journal

The darker, dewy mornings have started. but March is still a wonderful month for harvesting in the garden.

I still have green beans, beets, lettuces, leafy greens, tomatoes, basil and zucchini in plentiful supply. My tomatoes seem to be taking forever to ripen and were in unusually short supply until I caught red-handed, two taste testers helping themselves to the ripe tomatoes.

Dudley, on the tomato lovers(Dudley, the tomato lover)

I have pulled the rust-impacted garlic and it was an absolute disaster. Size does matter in this case. But, luckily, I secured some amazing garlic from a local organic grower. Reach out if you too had a bad harvest and need their details for a 2024 supply. That’s gardening for you; sometimes we win and sometimes not so much.

In this issue

  • What to plant. Get them in the ground
  • Pesto
  • Collecting seeds

Planting ideas. Get them in the ground

My focus is on getting as many seedlings as possible in the ground to make the most of the growing season that’s left. Here in Wānaka, the growing window will come to an abrupt halt before we know it.

Currently, almost every other week, I am planting; parsley, celery, more brassicas and leafy greens such as beets, chards, kale and spinach. These are my go-tos for my style of cooking and what we like to eat in winter.

If practical, try to pop your brassicas, such as cauli, cabbages and broccoli, in a different spot to where you grew them previously. They will also love a good feed of compost as they are hungry plants.

If you follow me on social, you will know that I love colour.  My favourite of the Swiss chards  are “Bright Lights”. These gorgeous stems come in vibrant colours of yellow, red, pink and crimson. Pops of colours bring joy in the cooler months.

Some other good winter greens that can be sown from seed are Miner’s Lettuce and corn salad. If you haven’t already tried them, grab a packet of seeds and give them a go. Miner’s Lettuce is packed with Vitamin C and really versatile as it can be used in salads, stir-fries, steaming and sautéing.

Miner’s Lettuce does take itself wherever it wants, so maybe sow it in a contained area. It dies off in spring and doesn’t cause any trouble, if you don’t mind it popping up randomly.

My espalier apples are ready to start eating. You can’t beat a fresh crunchy apple. The raspberries have an autumn flourish coming and my peaches are plumping up and turning golden on the tree. These are all wonderful fruit for cooking up and/or storing.

Often at this time of year, basil is in plentiful supply. If you love it as much as I do, keep picking the basil leaves and the flowers so the plant produces more leaves for as long as possible. The flowers are gorgeous and look divine thrown in a cute jar or bottle.

If you have a surplus, turn your basil into pesto, and freeze in ice cubes that can be whipped out and used in the cooler months.

Basil freshly pickedBasil fresh from the garden

Anna’s Basil Pesto recipe:

  • About 3 cups of basil
  • A small handful of Parmesan
  • A handful of pine nuts
  • 2 roughly cut garlic cloves
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  • 3/4 cup of yummy oil
  • Sometimes I need to add a pinch of sugar, depending on the age of the basil leaves.

Whizz together to the consistency you like.

Collecting seeds from your garden

Try collecting seeds from some of your own plentiful plants.  You can easily try this with green beans, broad beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, courgettes and pumpkins.

Runner bean seeds for collection

The key to success is:

  • Ensure the plants are nice ‘n’ healthy
  • Harvest on a dry day, when the seeds are mature
  • If the seeds are in a pod, make sure the pods are dry and brown prior to harvest
  • Dry the seeds really well
  • Store in a paper envelope
  • Most importantly, don’t forget to label them with their name and date of harvest

 Until next month …