Sunday, 16 June 2019


Things are gearing up for Matariki - the Maori New Year.
I've been learning more Maoritanga this year than ever before, from Rongoa Rakau Maori herbal medicine, to going to my  second round of evening classes at Te Wananga, and now learning how to incorporate Te Reo and caring for tamariki who are tangata whenua at Ranui Primary School. I'm Kaitiaki of Te Wharepukapuka and the children call me Whaea Selina.

Me, a mother?
Well yes to 400 tauira! (students)
Gulp. The problem is, working at school means I get all the bugs. I worked outside gardening in all weathers for 18 months and never caught cold. But now I'm inside for four days a week at the library and I get everything that's going. Mum said 'don't blame the children!' but I say it's just a fact of life. I can't do anything about it, except stay in bed and catch up on my reading.

The school put on a Matariki Disco, and a Matariki Breakfast, and I couldn't go to either of them. However I've been reading Matariki stories, and whats so important for us gardeners to know, is that when we see Matariki, the seven sisters stars on the horizon, that means its time to prepare the garden for new crops. If you live further down South, you might not see Matariki, but her cousin, Puanga, another bright star, heralding the start of winter.

So this weekend I started digging my new garden bed. Bev had come over last weekend for a visit. I was picking her brain for advice. She just said 'plant what you like' but problem is, I like almost all plants. I'll give anything a go. I've decided to take her advice about preparing my new bed by digging over the turves, letting them rot down, placing my homemade compost on top, and also some soil amendments - biochar, and CPP. Lasagna gardening experts say put newspaper down 10 sheets thick to smother weeds and then place lucerne hay and manure on top but I don't have any lucerne hay handy. Also I don't know if lasagna style gardening actually really works on clay soil. I was reading another book that talked about raised beds, but then they said if you've only got clay then you have to go out and BUY soil. Man, do the people who write gardening books think gardeners are made of money?

Apparently some do, the authors of Gardens of the Greats sure think so, for the majority of the people they interviewed for this book were flush with cash enough to splurge on their properties, like Michael Hill (Jeweller) and Bev McConnell, (gardening doyenne) and other well known philanthropists. Bob Harvey (former Waitakere Mayor)  likes clivias, Malcom Rand (of Eco Store) is into permaculture, and  Sir Ray Avery (inventor) relaxes in a Japanese style garden.

Well like all things I was then inspired to use what I have. After all even these people had to start somewhere and rely on their own resources before they called the landscapers in. I don't have any landscapers. I'm the landscaper. At least David Hornblow gives down to earth advice. He just advises make compost, compost and more compost. You can never have too much compost.

I've made a start of digging over and and lined the fenceline with some liriope I've dug out from under the feijoa tree. I never liked the lirope there where nobody could really see it behind the buxus. Then I will filch some purple salvias I've got in tyres in my other beds and see if I can get a purple flower theme going, to complement the wisteria, which is rapidly losing it's leaves. For the edging I'm going to try ajuga, and if that fails, more garlic chives. And then, I'm going to try a gardening trick learned from Trish Allen, to grow daikon radish to break up the clay soil. To complete the edibles theme, will add some red cabbages. I'm hoping the next crop after that could be kumara, but that will have to wait...

I hope these children will like daikon radish. Who knows I might be able to persuade them to like Lo Bak Go when its harvest time. They're all keen to try the Hell Pizza challenge - read seven books and earn a free pizza, but how about reading 8 and they can earn free Lo Bak Go.