Monday, September 27, 2010

Spring Cheer

Last week was a dreadful one for gardening. I despaired of posting a blog at all and then decided to cheer everybody up with a few gardening-gone-bad photos. After all I am always telling the boys that mistakes are learning opportunities, so learn from me.
The worst of the storms passed us by but we had snow and too much wind to even be in the glasshouse so I ended up doing house-work; be amazed.
Returning to the mysterious yellow lupin patches, compare the yellow on the right to the control lupin on the left. The photo doesn't bring it all out but on the left there are fine threads off the tap root with nitrogen nodules on them. The root is fairly much the same colour as the stem and as long as the plant is high. The yellow lupin was unable to fix nitrogen and the root sort of shatters in all directions; where the stem hits the soil it changes to a dark brown. It wouldn't be much of a leap to say the problem is in the soil.

For the record, lupin is easier to dig in than oats; if I had a small glasshouse with the compost bin handy I would probably just put the cover crop on the compost heap and put compost in the glasshouse. Here, that would involve too much double handling and it is better just to grab the spade and dig. Optimum benefits accrue a month after digging in the cover crop so that puts me in line to plant the tomatoes Labour Week-end.
Now one of my neighbours chanced to ask me if hydrangeas grow well in this climate. 'As a matter of fact I have one in my garden. Come and see...'
Hydrangeas are shade tolerant, but not drought, frost or neglect tolerant. As Meat Loaf did not say: 'three out of four is very bad'.

Now I rethought our tiny balcony, did nothing and worked out that it was a success story after all. Ruth has started a feature on Real Gardens and the first one, here, has a lovely seating area that really caught my imagination: it has trees for shade, bulbs and other garden enticements. Ours is a concrete block that is also a thoroughfare to the back door. The obvious thing might seem to be pots but I know I would never water them, (drought, frost,neglect...) and the result would be worse than nothing.
So I'll talk you through the existing features.
1. The brick walls heat up during the day and release heat in the evening. That's when the seats against the walls come into their own.
2. The table seats 6 and is right beside the BBQ
3.We look out over the Maniototo plains from here with trees in the foreground.
In conclusion, the space functions well for a crowd and the ambience comes from the surrounding countryside. That's enough.

The Fruit Fly Incident
Funny how small things can lead to bigger outcomes. The heart of it is that I haven't been straining the tea leaves; instead, just slopping the whole lot into the compost bucket and the result was an incredibly wet compost heap and a build up of fruit flies. Well they don't like the cold and I would empty the bucket on a frosty morning, take the lid off and sling it in. If the air had warmed up there would have been a swarm all over me. All over Bill as it happened because the population hit the exponential growth button, warmth,moisture etc while I was away in Australia. They must have piggy backed into the house on Bill, they really stick to you, and the windows were black. He had to spray all the sills with fly spray and then rebuild the heap outside, incorporating all the boxes of bits and garden peices that I had been saving for this very thing.
I'm sorry Bill, I can hardly type for laughing but you did a great job thanks. We're currently enjoying the Bokashi Buckets instead. Posted by Picasa


  1. Hi Miriam. I'm not surprised that hydrangeas don't grow well in your part of the world, as they seem to love water and on the West Coast we have them taking off up hills of their own accord. It does look very beautiful.

  2. Yay for the ambience of the countryside, we are so looking forward to seeing you on Sunday!

  3. Your balcony looks nice. Maybe you could plant up a decorative flower bed that you can see when sitting on the balcony, that way you won't need to worry about watering pots etc. You could perhaps plant some little woodland type plants under those trees.
    I hope the weather has improved for you now and nature is letting you back outside! Have a great weekend.