Monday, August 7, 2017

Have we got any flowers?

 It may have made 17 degrees today but it has been more like 7 more oft than not; a very cold winter. However, the house now sports 2 functioning wood burners. Happily the  wood piles  both fall and rise again like the tide.

There was a vase of garden flowers at our favourite cafe in Port Chalmers last Friday. (The Ocean Cafe) "Have we got any flowers? said B. 
I was surprised. How could you not notice? 
The Kaka beak by the front door seems to flower 1/2 now and 1/2 later. I am so grateful for the colour in July and August. 

This is actually a beautiful orange, arctotis I think, or gazania. Flowers all year.

The carpet rose has a few blowsey blooms at the minute and buds coming on. It has delivered everything I hoped it would, lovely foliage, blooms, and always looks good. 

This is a St Stephens Island Kowhai. Home to a stripey caterpillar that strips the stalks bare of leaves every year. Somehow it has the strength to put out a few blooms. Keep going little shrub. You can overcome this. 

Calendula was here 23 years ago when we arrived. I have added in an orange one that also pops up unbidden and delightful. 

Lavender looks good. 

Here's the girls found a patch in the winter sun. They are underneath my lemon stick. One day it may become a lemon tree. 
One day it may set fruit.

I set the chooks into the tunnel house. More to give the hen-pecked shavers a break than to clear the ground. Its time to start planting again. 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Meet the Glasshouse

We put the glasshouse in about September 2016. Lest that sound like a one-off event, it took about a month; fetching it from the original site was a job in itself. 

Mr B put a wood foundation down first to attach the aluminium structure to, and it gives it a little extra height as well. 

Available talent was seized for service holding up the skeletal roof spine. That look suits you boys. The look of industry.

We cleaned the glass panes. Fitting them was the hardest part because the structure had slightly skewed in transit, sigh, the perils of a second-hand glasshouse. 

It was about October before I got plants in, and my own plants went in even later so a late season. I grew small varieties of tomato to get them all ripened in time, and plenty of cucumbers. 
The best tomato was a little black heirloom from Kings Seeds, something like Blackjack. 

I mulched everything with pine needles and dug them in when I cleared the glasshouse out. The chickens have had a good scratch around since and now I have begun to bury the bokashi in there; looking good for this season. 
I think this year I will grow good old Money Maker, and Black Jack. The Lebanese cucumber is superb but the plants aren't as reliable as a telegraph in the glasshouse so will plant both again. 
How wonderful to be anticipating Spring in the middle of Winter. 

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Old friend

I planted crocus and freesia bulbs in pots by the back door in Autumn. Nothing to see above ground but the promise below has given me a lot of enjoyment.  They look beautiful already. 

A winter photo below, today, and the sun has already gone by 3pm. My bulbs are up and see the little woodpile at the side. There is an inexorable progression of combustibles towards the woodburner at this time of year. 

Now I think  I've said before that I focused on growing vegetables this year and everything else was neglected. Come the end of summer and the path up to the chicken house was mud. We got a trailer load of free wood chips  courtesy of the council's cleaning up around Port Chalmers. Thanks guys.

Here's the path now, below, working really well. The bags are full of pine needles. The little wood pile is my old friend, the Angelina Burdett plum tree that was growing in the middle of the chicken run. Sadly it had 'bladder plum' disease and we reluctantly took it out. 

I think we have done it justice, nothing wasted. All the twigs will make good kindling in a few months.

Final photo, chicken in the tunnel house. We got given some year-old brown shavers that are squabbling with our own Bardrocks. The Bardrocks have been throwing their weight around. I'm boarding a few of the chooks in the tunnel house for the minute to give everyone a break. Clear the ground while you are there girls. 

Thursday, July 6, 2017

New Tricks

I've just re-learnt how to post a blog again. There are a few projects I have managed to capture on the camera over the last year. Just as well because as we head into the coldest two weeks of winter, apparently, I shan't be doing much outdoors. 
Eventually the fence broke down here and I couldn't garden because the soil, and the water all ran away...

I hated the broken wall. There is a proverb about a sluggard, whose ground is covered in thistles and the stone wall is broken down. But what if the owner isn't lazy? The broken wall to me is the  look of illness. The inability to order your environment. 
 It was the best part of the garden, closest to the house, and got the most winter sun, plus an element of shelter from the wind, at times. 

Eventually I needed the space and  decided just to forge ahead, patch up with cardboard boxes, and use it.  You know, do what I can, not worry about what I can't. 

About that time, God said to B, "Why haven't you fixed Miri's wall?"
Thank you. 
Ever put in a post? Digging the post holes is a big job.

Now  here it is beginning to look like a useful garden space. I planted potatoes and yams, broad beans and peas, red onions, leeks, now garlic...and have spent a lot of time digging out the horseradish that was in there. It really does grow from every little piece. 

All beautiful to behold. It's really smart.

Had a brilliant idea for storing my gardening gloves. Now I can always grab a dry pair, and the right pair for the job, as I go out the back door.

My shed was commandeered for another project. Gardening tools rehoused in the tunnel house. Proving to be even more convenient. Liquid seaweed in the blue bin. Use the sieve and old tin bath above to make my own seed raising mix. 

I suppose I could draw the outlines underneath each tool so it can go back to the exact place...just kidding. I am the only one who uses them so they are always returned. 

Thursday, September 10, 2015

criminal minds

There's a couple of new things happening in the garden at the minute.
Partners in crime, here they are high-tailing it to a freshly dug patch of ground. They don't realise at all that they are pets livestock and have a mad intent to get inside. They hang around the back door in the mornings pecking to be let in, and should you or I  leave the front door open, then they are strolling the red carpet.
I'm trying to think of suitable whimsical names but whimsy arrives sideways, it isn't planned or worked out, it is bestowed.  

That's a seed potato in the foreground: my Christmas investment, a dozen red king seed potatoes.
The liberal pine needle bed is  some protection from wire-worm, and chickens ought to help with that too, eventually, when we target their browsing. I'm leaving the flowering broccoli in for wind shelter and bee forage. Yes, the weeds are part of the plan.

Nobody remembers it as a great winter but apart from the flooding, there were lots of dry, clear days.
The first morning that B borrowed a concrete drill and began to work on the garage-door footings was also the morning that our neighbour got in from A and E at 7 am after a grueling night and was trying to sleep.
It was school holidays so we cut work,  managed to unplug a teenage boy from his computer, and went to the beach.
The little barbecue has just enough oomph to boil the coffee pot after the sausages are done, very well done today....

Long Beach in winter, it could easily be summer, never a crowd.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015


There was a gap between taking the photos, and the writing of it this week, and I've already moved on to other things, but let me dredge my mind. Why did I take these photos?
The cucumbers seemed like a greater triumph, for some reason, than tomatoes and basil; all three are amazing just because they are home grown. How often do I say that?
Even the grotty tomatoes make  pasta sauce that has no comparison to one made with a can of tomatoes and  the slug-chewed sunburned basil becomes delicious pesto. I know, if you are reading a gardening blog I am preaching to the converted.


The timer is a reprimand. I popped the sprinkler on in the tunnel house, flouting watering restrictions because the job is so tedious... but then I forgot. 
If the ground reaches saturation point within 1/2 hr, and the water flow was say, 2 litres a minute, how many litres ran down,  the "River Driveway"  for the next 2 hours?
B retrieved a timer out of the garage, a commendable feat in itself, without saying anything, another commendable feat, and taped it to the hose.

I was given 3 different strawberry varieties this year that I am keen to trial. First step is multiplication.  Just the one runner so far for Type A, but A comes highly recommended for big red fruits; in a rare bit of top-class care, I have tucked the progeny into a snug little punnet of potting mix. Grow strong little one.

Now this is a conundrum. The fejoia is 'Unique' I think, suggested for this climate, but I don't understand how something that is flowering right now, can produce fruit on the cusp of the season like this. I may have to move the pair of them; I wanted them to sit nicely in front of the compost bins but they seem to be telling me that their needs are not the same as mine. I'm listening but I'll give it another year in case they come around. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

fear factor

The distance between what I envisage for the garden, and what is actually there, has never seemed so great. Part of the problem is all the ideas on hold that are milling around in my mind; but it is so dry and to move a plant right now is to lose a plant, or at least set it back some. 
And then there is the mid-season disappointment as it becomes fully apparent what is faring well and what isn't. Silly really, it's not a competition and my little carrots taste just as good as big ones would; they are just following a different trajectory. 
In a world post-NCEA results, where plans for the schooling year are being made, it's good to remember that life is not a competition and there are many trajectories.

One of the chickens got out yesterday and she had a wonderful time scratching amongst these plants, broccoli inter planted with pak choi.  They are the follow-on from the garlic. It's a lovely transition, and an accomplishment, to have plants ready to go in as spaces become available.
In this instance the plants are my solar battery, harvesting the warmth and sunshine to draw on later.

There's a handful of blood and bone each and some scraggy compost; a big part of gardening, and cooking for that matter, is gathering and replenishing  your resources so that they are available when you need them.

The leeks I planted in December have all gone up to seed so I have planted more as the potatoes are lifted.
Some potatoes you dig, others you lift; and then there's bandicooting.

Today  it crossed my mind, will the garden ever be up and running or am I just making excuses. I remembered that garden makeovers are not my style. I really enjoy the process and potential and it is not a race. Come to think of it, the NCEA student has just endured my talk to that effect in the car; I love a captive audience. 
A family friend asked this son recently "What would you do if you couldn't fail?"
I think that idea is a good one for envisaging what I want in the garden. "If I could do anything what would I do?"
Let's see what unfolds...