Monday, 10 August 2015

I never promised you a rose factory

I put in some more forget-me-nots in my sunken boggy garden near the blueberries. It's going to be a blue garden I think. Perhaps I shall broadcast cornflowers there too.

I went to the Warehouse and hellebores were $4 each. So I bought three, one was a blue one which I'd never come across before. The other two were pink and red ladies.  In they all went near the loquat.

My peas are coming up. I will take some to plant out in the community garden and will put netting and quash slug bait round them. I want to grow more sunflowers in pots but will need potting mix as I only have seed raising mix. I will put them in Fluffy's bed by the deck railing so that as they grow tall one can look over sunflowers at one's feet. I have a packet of 'Empress' sunflowers, some Giant Russians and a whole packet of 'Teddy' sunflowers. I think Teddy is dwarf.

Now my horticulture course. I graduated early last year and it was a season of gardening at the Ranui Community Garden.  I had to grow three different varieties from seed, I chose sweet pea, poppies and phacelia. The sweet peas grew but it was too hot for them and didn't flower until the course was finished. The poppies grew but did not flower at all. And the phacelia did not even come up!

So that was a failure. I should have just stuck with tomatoes, basil and chillies instead. As we started the course in October, that would have been best, but of course I didn't know hardly anything about gardening and wanted flowers. We also grew courgette, cucumber, soybeans, and other flowers like bishops flower, cosmos, tansy, and night scented stock. Cosmos was a big success and we managed to get seeds from them. Courgette was dead easy. The sunflowers did not grow very tall, and the tomatoes were prolific, as were the chillies. We had loads of basil too.

I was on the course three days a week, two days in the garden and one day in the classroom. Buffie, our teacher got her moneys worth I think. We pretty much did free labour and it was hard work! There were about ten of us on the course, and I tell you it was a real mix of people. Two teenagers who had to have caregivers as they'd gotten into trouble and this was like a course to keep them busy. Some schizophrenics and mentally ill recoverers. Another guy who had gone bankrupt and was getting the benefit by being on this course. A young lady who had done her masters in botany in Burma. Another guy who had worked in horticulture and needed to take two buses to get to Ranui. He knew more than any of us. What was he doing on the course? Another girl who started the course, but then got a job strawberry picking. Her boyfriend was into growing plants too. Weed of course.  An African lady who was growing crops already in the garden but decided to listen in to classes.  Two guys who were caretaking twin streams. And me.

I learned composting, irrigation, weed identification, the biology of plants, clearing weeds, different soils, and the fruitlessness of watering on a hot summers day. I also learned tractor safety. In case I want to have a job driving tractors. Yes it was that kind of course.

I enjoyed it anyway. And it was free! We even got to visit Kings Seeds down in Katikati and a Rose factory I mean green house for our field trips. Industry secret - those roses are grown hydroponically in cocoa fibre and they are liquid fed on Ph balanced fertiliser. Also, you should have seen the rose bunching machine. It was huge! I feel sorry for them as Valentines Day has to be an absolute nightmare the day after. Because nobody will buy a rose the day after Valentine's Day. I asked them where all the roses went. They said compost, or old folks homes. How sweet. I was going to suggest cemeteries, but they could just plant roses there instead couldn't they?

Lynn Anderson, eat your heart out.