Autumn is definitely in the air, it’s really chilly in the mornings & often the valley is shrouded in mist until the sun warms it up. I love this time of year, my English upbringing means I relish the changing of the seasons, & I love that feeling of getting harvests stored away for the colder months. Of course here in Hawkes Bay, we have the best of both worlds, frosts & Autumn colours, then glorious sunny days. I like the shift to fires in the evenings, & big casseroles for tea. Spring appears very quickly, with the small bulbs, primroses, Pulmonaria & other early treasures. Our Dragon’s Gold Kowhai flowers in June, well before the bigger trees. So in that way it’s not at all like England, where the cold & wet seems to drag on & on. The ornamental Salvias come into their own now, giving the garden much needed flashes of colour. Below are a few, S. guaranitica, S. conflertiflora (Flirty Flora) S. superba, & S. bethelii,Boatman’s Sage

The vege garden is on the turn, the cold nights are slowing down the tomatoes, our peppers & chillies have been slow to produce anyway. The beginnings of our winter garden are looking good, beetroot & carrots are bulking up, we have 3 successive plantings of leeks in, the celariac is starting to form bulbs, & lettuces are coming away well. We’re digging potatoes as we need them, but will eventually dig up the whole lot & store them in a cool, dark place.

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We processed the wax cappings, it’s a very messy business! We melted the whole lot down with a litre or so of water, strained it, & poured it into an old olive oil tin, with the bottom cut off. This was a cunning idea we gleaned from the Beekeepers magazine. The idea is that the tap stays at the bottom, & if needs be you can run some water out to release the vacuum, after the wax sets. The other tip, is to punch 2 holes either side, on the top rim, & when the wax & water mix has been poured in, pull the sides together with a piece of wire. When set, you release the wire & the wax comes out easily. Do this process outside or on lots of newspaper, it’s really messy & so sticky. Use an old pan or tin to melt down in, as it will never be the same again. We’ve got just over 1kg of beautiful wax from our one hive. It’s so precious we’ve decided to make candles using it, so we can appreciate it for a long time.

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