Saturday, 24 April 2021

Gardening tales

 Went down for a walk in the Woodside garden, I laid the bait for mum - kumara leaves. So we went and picked some, as well as some chillies and a load of lavender.  My secret plants are showing shoots and the radishes have swollen.

Karyn and I are still chatting on Garden Planet. She has started her own show Korero with Karyn and it's on once a month before Garden Planet. I think Karyn is a natural and very easy conversationalist, while I am not so much. We've picked out our topics for the coming month, mine is on paper and Karyn's is on photosynthesis. 

I didn't know how some people could get such a buzz out of chemistry and mathematics, but they do. For me, looking at patterns and straight lines and things sometimes just makes my head hurt. I'm always the one breaking out of the box. I don't understand how people think sometimes when they miss the obvious because they always want things square shaped or linear. 

For example, remember crop circles? These patterns appeared in fields of wheat in England, and people really thought they were caused by aliens! How could plants be flattened in circles when farmers had grown them in dead straight lines?!  

So silly. 

I'm sure the plants can grow anywhere they really bloody well please if they want and nobody would think they were wrong for doing so. It's only silly humans who want them to grow in grids and lines so they can control them. 

I finally had enough of Facebook NZ Backyard Gardeners constant moaning of 'how do I get rid of x' that I just up and left the group. The last straw was when someone wrote 'how do I get rid of chives and mint?' My last comment was 'eat them'. 

 Life is too short to think of complete annihilation all the time. 

We had our Garden Club meeting. I manned a new books table where club members can get 20% off gardening books at PaperPlus Henderson. I felt like a real sales rep at that point. 

Here is one of the winners of the Best Bloom table. Barbara's lovely Dahlia. It's a showstopper this one.

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

Ssh don't tell

 The Woodside gardeners may get a surprise come spring under the fruit trees. It's all very secret squirrel but surely they cannot object? Otherwise I've planted parsley in every corner of the raised beds because there was just no parsley at all in the garden. Shocking for a so-called kitchen garden not to have this essential garnish.

Mitre 10's cafe was offering free coffee grounds so I grabbed a bag to put inWoodside's compost. And sprinkled some in the radish bed - which has now come up, and may need to be thinned out soon. 

It does look like something other than oxalis is growing in Sock's bed - I can't tell if it's parsley, coriander, phacelia, yarrow, or something else I had scattered in there in hope of green coverage. For good measure, in case nothing else grows, I've put in sweet peas seeds, dutch iris bulbs, a globe artichoke seed head, swan plant seeds,  calendula seeds, borage seeds, geranium cuttings and ice plant cuttings. Please grow! Honestly anything is better than nothing, and even oxalis can look pretty when it flowers.

I found out there always seems to be a war on other Facebook garden groups. Garden Planet is very peaceful because I don't let just ANYONE join. They have to be gardeners and love gardening. But the others I am in always seem to be full of so-called gardeners asking 'how do I get rid of this plant??". And it will be a plant that is actually useful or pretty.  If you don't want it well you can pull it out, but it might grow back. What they are really after is complete  annihilation. 

I sometimes am tempted to comment back. YOU CAN JUST NUKE IT. 

I mean honestly, do parents post on Facebook groups 'how do I get rid of children'?' If you don't want any children...then don't do the thing that produced them in the first place...maybe?

Instead I just write. 'You can't get rid of plants. But you can get rid of yourself and go live in a concrete block if you want'. 

Uncle John is very taken with my dried statice flowers and seems inspired to grow some in his garden - which has a water feature, chickens AND rabbits. I am hoping my green fingered efforts would inspire my family to greater horticultural heights. Or even the next door neighbours.

It seems my prayers have been answered, because, even though sadly the boy next door passed away, their family decided to plant two fruit trees where the gardenia was so now we have a pear tree and a plum tree next to our driveway. One for Sparky and one for Nga. RIP. 

Friday, 2 April 2021

Sisters hanging out in the garden

 Miracle! I got mum and sis to come with me to the community garden. I got sis to plant some radish and chinese veges in one of the empty beds.

I had some radish on seed tape and sis was a bit sceptical that I had 
'cheated' because it was then dead easy then to sow everything in a straight line. I said well if you want to do it the hard way and sow every single radish seed by hand and space them 10 centimetres apart you can be there all night...

I got her to water the seedlings (although this was actually to keep her busy as Lord knows if I start her on anything else I run the risk of the ire of all the other gardeners for making a mess) and then prayed for rain, and it rained that night. 

As reward for our labour, I took home some livingstone daisy seedlings and two rose cigar plants that someone had kindly potted up. Mum cut some silverbeet and we harvested a few tomatoes. 
I wrote it all down in the new 2021 diary and up on the whiteboard map of the garden.

Sis had given me the garden hunter shoes you see in the  pic that she's wearing and also the red gardening gloves. 

At school I planted some hyacinth I managed to snag the very last purple bulbs in stock at Kings. I've put them in a vase over glass pebbles and water in the library, so that in 
spring we will have glorious blooms in the reference section.

I've snuck in some purple dutch iris in Sock's bed which is now dripping with feijoas. I feel like I go on a big Easter egg hunt each time I pick them up, if easter eggs can be green look like feijoas. Hey, who said eggs have to be made of chocolate? 

It's Good Friday today and I notice my garden is now putting on a red flower show. I have pinneaple sage and red pom pom dahlias, red nerines and a red canna. Christ's blood in the garden? I know I planted them but my garden continues to surprise me by blooming all at the same time. 

I try not to surprise the other Woodside gardeners with my plantings but surely they cannot object to radish and chinese veges (it was their expired seed after all) and they are not flowers so I hope that is ok. Otherwise if I hear anything else about how I can't plant this or that I'll just add it to the growing banned plants list that I need to commit to memory. 

Wednesday, 24 March 2021

Garden Ramble Time


Though working on Saturdays means I don't get to go. Though I have started going on Mondays, although sadly I get an earful from some of the grumpier gardeners when I do go, so am reconsidering whether they still want me around. Between you, me and the fencepost, I could do without the stress and just get on with it. I personally wouldn't stick around if anyone tries to nag me. 

Mum had to go to hospital but I can't convince her to come to the garden with me and chop up weeds for someone else when she won't hardly do anything in our own garden, yet expects me to do everything perfect. Meanwhile, the trimming in the orchard with  the trees and perennials gets left for months and months until everything is overgrown. I don't understand why some people just don't bother to PRUNE anything, to keep the plants healthy, and use the prunings as mulch or cuttings  but would rather pull out and dig and to make even MORE work for themselves.  I am very happy to do pruning, and not nag anyone else to do it, yet get told by others its' 'busy work' or some such rot. 

But it falls on deaf ears. It would be kind of like pulling out your own hair when you're done with it and going bald instead of giving it a good trim so it will grow again healthy and strong. Of course if pulling out your own hair is what you really want to do, go for it, but don't expect me to do it for you!

Anyway. If you see flowers in the community garden, it's only because I've convinced people to plant them, because before there was really nothing and no bees wanted to visit as there were hardly any flowers to attract them. 

Saturday, 6 March 2021

Rest from the wicked

 The 7 days lockdown has passed relatively uneventfully except for a rogue tsunami warning on Saturday. I just carried on as usual but with more naps. My sister doesn't quite believe me when I say librarians need naps to rest our eyes from all the reading we do. 

Tomorrow it's back to school and work, so will load up my funcargo with books again. Today, I managed to pick up a kaffir lime (thanks Ben!) and was  shown  his syntropic food forest, just two years old, in Glen Eden. He has a keyhole garden, a hugelkultur bed, a tree that has grafted ten different kinds of apples, azzolla water weeds in buckets, a banana circle, and what must be hundreds of various edible plants all waiting to be planted in his north facing slope of a garden.  He has been busy!

The kaffir lime has gorgeous limy tasty leaves and can keep growing happily in a pot so I will keep it there for now. It does has some thorns but doesn't seem too vicious.

I harvested the fennel which has gone to seed so I've made a little teepee/obelisk from the stems in Socks's bed, and seeded it with fennel, yarrow, parsley, agapanthus, swan plant, cardoon, borage, wormwood, lychnis, basically, ANYTHING that could grow there I would be happy with. I'm planning to chuck some sheep pellets and gypsum on there and also poppies, sweet pea and any seeds past their expiry date and see what comes up. Honestly nothing's really worked in the past, not even green manure,  I'll just keep on adding organic matter until something clicks. If I can get any mushroom compost maybe that might start things.  The feijoa tree seems to be doing alright and the manuka is still there, but the abutilons look a bit lonely and straggly, while the lambs ears seem to have reached their limit and the spider plants no longer like it as it's too sunny. 

Martha has been helping dig the driveway beds and it seems like she's actually doing quite a good job of it. For once! 

Dad's captured some more of our bounty - we had both kinds of grapes, and more naked ladies. Another week and it will be time to plant and sow again, so now everything's open I'll need to get growing again.


Saturday, 27 February 2021

Bounty from the garden


We got grapes, one apple and the naked lady lilies are flowering. 

We had a respite from lockdown for 2 weeks back to work but then last night it was announced Auckland would have 7 more days of lockdown so I might be able to extend the garden at home after all. 

Certainly everyone seems to expect that I have more time for gardening (and to do theirs) down at Woodside on Monday evenings but I can't promise I will bring ten sacks of compost, weed the entire plot or even do any extreme makeovers - I just will be there, in case anyone needs any help wondering what this or that plant is. Maybe I will just pick the flowers. Certainly they do need picking! Though it doesn't seem likely now because it's level 3 right and we all need to stay home. 

I've got Peruvian lilies that need planting and a few dahlia tubers, but otherwise, the weather has been summery, so it's generally just long days of watching figs and feijoas ripen and watering the pot plants in the cool of the evening. 

Some might have assumed that I do floral displays and such but I have to disabuse them of that notion that I am any kind of floral artist. My floral arrangements are mostly bunches to put in a vase, or posies in a jar. I dry flowers but I don't make any pictures or wreaths or garlands. 

Nor am I any kind of writer, dancer, musician or illustrator. I have no ambition to be published or have my name in lights or any of the things that people commonly assume about me. 

Marcus Tuillius Cicero famously said -  If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need. 

My own garden is admittedly small, and so is my library, but I have both and its true I have everything I need. So don't worry about me over lockdown. 

Monday, 15 February 2021


 Ah, home sweet home. 

Thanks to Level 3 lockdowns, we get to stay at home in Auckland for at least 3 days. It's my third Monday in a row I've had off. 

But that's ok as the rain has started and the humidity is up. We ate all the peaches Golden Queen provided this year, before the worms got to them.

My courgette has fruited and is bursting, though I made a horrible mistake of caging it (to prevent being dug up by Martha) and now its kinda being strangled by the cage when I forgot to remove it. 

As you can tell Martha is a bit oblivious to any damage she does to plants and believes she is 'helping' Her plant ID is not that great! 

Aside from that, I've weeded the driveway garden and removed most of the spider plants. Swan plants are rapidly sprouting. At school, the spider plants did survive and perked up after a drink of water. 

I visited Kings Plant Barn on the weekend looking for a Kaffir Lime but they didn't have any in stock, neither did Mitre 10. I want to grow one in a pot and harvest the leaves for my new-found interest in Thai and Vietnamese cuisine. For that I need ingredients like chilis, lemon grass, galangal and thai basil. Mum is rather skeptical about me learning any cooking, but how can I reasonably make anything without having the proper ingredients? 

For some strange reason, just because I'm female, I'm meant to magically know how to cook a perfect meal from absolutely nothing, when I have never been trained as a chef or had any experience in the kitchen. Now, if I had been given say $100 and been directed to go buy a weeks worth of food with it and my own kitchen and tools to mess around in and use, maybe I might actually be interested in learning and creating. But Mum always jealously guards her kitchen like a hawk and resents any time I attempt to make anything. She won't eat anything I make either, without a whole barrage of complaints, so I've just learned to live on mousetraps and instant noodles when she's not around. 

It's Chinese New Year and my lucky red packet money IS burning a hole in my pocket. No crayfish and no kaffir limes on sale, so I'm saving for a rainy day I guess. Or the Woodside Road garage sale which is apparently this Saturday.

I don't know if we'll go back to work though with the Covid still making the rounds. I'm not too worried though, as the vaccine roll out is just around the corner. 

I saw one of my naked ladies flowers made an appearance down the back, maybe it was Mother Nature giving me a Valentines flower, though I also had two droopy roses and lots of catnip enough for a bouquet. My moon calendar indicates its the best time to plant, so, if we have a few more days in lockdown I might be able to create another garden.