Easter is magic

I love Easter. I do believe it’s my favourite holiday. While Christmas is all hot and bothered and expensive and a scheduling nightmare, Easter is cool and calm and chocolatey and seed-collecting. And after the long, hot and very dry Summer we’ve just experienced, Thursday April 28 saw a very welcome drop in temperature and a definite change to the season.

Incredibly satisfying when your little rabbit takes herself off for a spot of Easter tomato hunting. Makes up for what she did to that chocolate egg earlier.

Easter in my house has a more traditional Northern Hemisphere Christmas vibe, while my New Zealand Summer Christmas has more Middle Eastern flair. Autumn sees the wine get darker and the food spicier and more satisfying. My new favourite hot cross bun recipe is an adaptation of the River Cottage Christmas bread. And my chai chocolate truffles make their first appearance of the year.

Root vegetables and fresh herbs from the LovePlantLife garden

Hot and not so crossed buns

Bubble and squeak made with root vegetables and fresh herbs from the LovePlantLife garden makes for great Autumn fare; Hot and not so crossed buns, nice and spiced courtesy River Cottage.

Fact is, I work better in Autumn and Spring – I’m quicker, smarter, more organised; charming, sophisticated, lovely  and just generally more agreeable. Summer heat and insects annoy me. In Winter I just want to sit in front of the fire reading or watching DVDs and I loathe colds and flu. So I feel most comfortable in transitional seasons and recognising and harnessing these recurrent waves of power is good. Thus, when Easter hits, I’m feeling good… (cue Nina Simone or even Muse).

At first glance the garden looks sparkling with reds, oranges and golds catching the eye. The tomatoes, peppers and eggplants are bountiful. Jerusalem artichokes, cosmos, zinnias, calendula, basil, amaranth and echinacea are flowering madly. The marigolds are on golden fire. We’ve had a great crop of everything with very little maintenance this year. Double-dug beds with protective layers of compost and close, mixed plantings set us up very nicely for the heat and drought. But looking past the jewels, underneath things are parched from the dry, the nutrients burnt out of the soil, plants ending their time. But that’s where the real magic lies. The ripened fruit, the dying flowers, the gnarled, dried beanstalks – all those signs of death actually hold resurrection. They are all forming the seeds of next Summer’s crops. And the dried debris is the carbon for the next lot of compost.

Echinacea and amaranth

Single gold marigolds

Echinacea and amaranth; Our shining Single gold marigolds.

Seed-saving is in full swing. Carefully labelled jars of foul-looking water line windowsills. Brown paper bags hang in airy, dark places. Packets and paper plates cover most available work surfaces. There’s a lot going on, but the work is incredibly satisfying and joyous. I love it.

Beautifully speckled SelugiasSeed saving at LPL HQPumpkin and squash seeds being wet processedHoly beans going through the final drying stageOur tall trial borlottis are now very dryThe last of the dill seeds drying off

Our beautifully speckled Selugia beans; Second to last lot of seeds for the season drying, these will soon be packed away to make room for the last seed harvest of the season; Pumpkin and squash seeds being wet-processed to remove the membrane around the seed; the angelic crop of Holy beans; Our trial climbing Borlottis are now very dry; The last of the dill seeds drying off.