My Garden ~ a Kiwi's take on life

Life is a lot like a garden


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My Garden ~ it must be spring

Things are looking up. The daylight hours are longer, the sun has been seen to shine, and wonders of wonders, the slush and the mud is drying out. I actually got into the garden and sowed evergreen Broad Beans directly into the soil. The soil felt warm on my hand. So that’s a good sign. This season, I’m trying out a Dwarf Broad Bean variety. Back indoors, I sowed cherry tomato seeds into a seed raising mix: Baxters Early Bush Cherry Tomato and Black Cherry Tomato. My plan is to pot up and grow these tomato plants in the warmth of the polyhouse. I also sowed cauliflower seeds. I chose a mini variety because it will take less space in the garden and will mature in about 80 days from sowing before the hotter months happen in our part of the world at the end of the year. Pumpkin ‘Triamble’ is my favourite and seeds are being started in the warmth of the polyhouse. Still lots more to do – but it’s a start. 
Even better, I was able to weed the raised strawberry beds. Their dormancy is definitely over. Fresh green leaves and a few white blossoms are happy signs. I gave the plants a good feed of organic sheep pellet fertiliser and a layer of mulch. A great few hours in the garden is an antidote to soggy seasonal affective disorder.        
After work, it’s good to pull the gumboots on and get out in the fresh air. The bird song is uplifting at this time of the day. Three-year old and his little toddler brother love visiting our neighbour and feeding food scraps to the farmyard menagerie. It’s a good opportunity to tire out little legs before the dinner, bath and bed routine. The walk was not without its heart-stopping moments particularly when Turbo-toddler tore towards the stream-bank to throw a stick or stone into the water. Older brother inspected every stick for its potential to be wielded as a light sabre sword. But we did get to our destination as the photos show.         


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My Garden ~ it’s been the wettest winter and a birth is imminent

Mud. Lots of it. Squelchy and squishy.  Officially, we’re told it’s been the wettest winter. The grey rain clouds can go away now. We are no longer lulled by the nightly patter of rain on the roof. In our area, the soil ‘floats’ atop the hardpan pipe-clay. Unsealed local roads and private driveways currently make driving interesting as we dodge the potholes. Once things dry out in the warmer months, we’ll need to re-metal our driveway.

I can only stand and admire nature’s cheerful face of drifts of daffodils. No outdoor gardening is happening at present. This weekend, I want to get some time to sow some seeds to germinate them under cover. And yes, the early potatoes seem to still be growing. Anyway, there’s another reason for no gardening and no blogging. For the last few weeks, I’ve been busy cleaning spare bedrooms, laundering baby clothes, fetching grandkids from daycare and preparing meals. I feel stuffed just looking at this list and I go out to work during the week. The efforts we make to support our families.     

Tomorrow is the due date for a very important little person. Grandchild Number 8. The lucky number and it’s the 8th month of 2008. We’ve got a full house. Son and D-in-law and their two sons are staying with us before they shift into their next house. D-in-law’s Mum flew in from Australia and is also staying with us. Tonight, the newborn baby clothes are sorted and the basinet is made up and aired. Mummy’s finally stopped working and is now on maternity leave. She’s packed her bag at last. Daddy’s reading a story to three-year old son. Three grandparents are under the same roof and on hand to baby-sit the older boys. Wow! Each time, the imminent birth of a grandchild is such a special time. The event draws people together. A little of each of us is embodied in the promise of this precious new life bringing cheer like the daffodils. Now, we wait for nature to take its course.


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My Garden ~ seeds of spring sowings

Eldest son and I phone-tagged tonight as we pored through an online seed catalogue. We decided to order online. This season, we’re sharing packets of seeds and adopting a more economical approach to growing more of our food. He has five kids and had just returned from the supermarket. The price of fresh produce there has really spurred him to get a vegie garden going – now! Yesterday! He’s got fruit trees planted on his new place. He and his wife had a salad picking garden at their previous home. Now, the inflation of their growing family’s appetites is matching economic inflation.

We settled for a seasonal selection for early spring plantings September-October. Our climate is warm enough – but then I said that once before about early potatoes and then there was a light frost.  We’ll use the polyhouse to get seedlings started and potted up later on before transplanting later into our gardens. No 2 son will get involved later on but at present, he’s absorbed with the prospect of becoming a Daddy for the third time.

So what did we order? Eldest son chose Watermelon Moon and Stars and Sweet Corn Honey and Pearl for his kids. I like his thinking about scatter sowing field poppies and a beneficial insect seed blend  in his new orchard. I’d have the lot but reason has to prevail. Such wonderful stories about heritage seeds. I’m inspired by names given to some of the seeds we ordered, like:  Baxters Early Bush Cherry Tomato; Pea Wando Select; Zucchini Costasta Romanesco; Bean Borlotto Fire Tongue;  Beetroot Crosbys Egyptian Flat; Black Cherry Tomato; Squash Orange Dawn. I’m intrigued by Chilli Pasilla Bajio as described in the catalogue, quote:

In Spanish, Pasilla means “little raisin”, an allusion to the deep brown dried pods and raisin like aroma of this flavourful Chilli. The long thin walled glossy dark green fruit at the immature stage ripen to dark chocolate brown with high yields and uniform high quality. When used fresh Pasilla are called chilaca and add a rich flavour to enchilada and chilli sauces.

I’m already thinking what recipes I might use to enjoy the ‘raisin like aroma”. And I was delighted to get hold of heirloom pumpkin seeds. My father used to grow Triamble pumpkin and it’s a good keeper and has a great taste. I can see him now using a small axe to chop through the hard skin.

We’ve battened down for the second major wintery storm of the week and I’ve been curled up in front of the wood-fire reading the jobs to do in August in my latest gardening magazine. I’ve learned that wood ash is beneficial for rhubarb in that it acts somewhat like lime. May be this is why winter happens – so we must wait, rest, reflect on our gardening adventures, and dare to dream how the next growing season might be.


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My Garden ~ making paper pots for transplanting seedlings

Years ago, an elderly neighbour showed me how he transplanted seedlings into the garden in paper pots that he’d made. There was, he claimed, less shock to the root system. The young plant is established in the paper pot with seedling mix before being transplanted into the garden. I leave a cuff to act as a mini-barrier from the wind.

Paper pot  Fold one sheet of newspaper to make an organic seedling planter.

Paper planter pot Interleave one edge into opposite fold to form a cylindrical shape

Paper planter pot Press inner fold down to form base

Paper planter pot Outer view of finished base

Paper pot Fold top 1/3  inside pot

Paper pot Finished seedling paper pot ready to fill.

Seedling in paper pot Zucchini seedling sown about 10 days ago in moistened paper pot. Leave space to act as a cuff to protect the young plant.

The same neighbour also spread seeds onto dampened paper strips. He covered the seeds with another strip of dampened paper. He then laid the seeded paper on damp seedling mix.