There’s only one week left before the official start of winter in southern Australia, as we ignore the dates of the solstice and equinox when apportioning our seasons down here. Instead, the year is chopped into four equal slices of three months, and so winter begins here on the first of June, and Spring on the first of September.
But the ‘break’ in the rains has yet to come, and the dry and warm conditions have meant that many summer crops have lingered on; tomatoes, basil, chillies, capsicums, pumpkins, cucumbers, parsley, coriander and turnips are still to be found out in the kitchen garden. A final tour of the garden before the expected change of weather finds the cook heading up to the house with dishes of produce.
The gardener can only watch her passing; the ‘Lazy Wife’ bean seeds have to be got off before they get damp in the forecast rain. Both green and dry bean seed pods go into the barrow, which is pushed into the shed to avoid the inclement weather. These will be sorted and shelled, with the dry bean seeds frozen overnight to kill off the ‘bean weevils’ that would otherwise eat the stored seed out from within. At the same time, the remnant bean plants have to be stripped off the trellises, and various other seed crops have to be gathered in and processed for next Spring – cucumbers; zucchinis, dwarf beans and fennel.
Over under our sunny north-facing family-room window, trays of seeds begin to accumulate; here they dry and get sorted, out of reach of rats and mice that would be pleased to dine off them if left lying about down the back shed.