Sunday 13 May 2012


an URBAN GARDEN OCT 2009 - SEPT 2011

I've been gardening at this house since early October 2009.  This is probably an example of a small garden that produces quite a lot  : )   I just keep laying on compost and let it 'self seed'.  There's always something available in there, all year round  : )

Sweet beginnings:  Oct-Dec 2009
These first pics were taken in early November 2009.  They show how poor the soil is.  There had been no garden beside the path ever before.  It was just dry, brittle, kaikuia lawn, which has a tendency to 'run' all over the pathways...  so not very attractive when I first got here ...  :-/

I had to break in the soil from scratch.  I took off the top layer of grass which went in the compost bin and then laboriously dug down to the depth of the spade.  I could only turn 10-15cm slices of hard clay dirt at a time.  There's an indication here of what slow work it was to get this garden going as I could only break in a strip of around 60cm x 1m at a time.  I still had around a metre to dig of the bed on the right side in these pics...  very slow work taking around 4-6 sessions to complete.

The Iceberg standard roses were gifted to the household in mid-September.  2 of the 5 old plants survived.  The smaller rose bush on the right is a lovely 'old fashioned rose' which is delightful called 'Satin Ribbon'.  In the first planting in this garden in October, I planted Beefsteak tomatoes, cos lettuce, red lettuce, silverbeet, marigolds, cape gooseberries and a few Christmas Lilly bulbs.

These pics are of when I first started this garden, Oct-Nov 2009...  hot and dry...  I just kept on watering...  all the time...  the soil was so poor it just didn't hold any moisture at all   : (

My front entrance Nov-Dec 2009.  It looks pretty ugly here...  you can imagine how much more ugly this front entrance looked when it was just nasty kaikuia grass.  The house looked very 'barren'  : (

"Pumpkins in the round"  :D   This little garden to the right of the front path was used purely to put grass clippings on when the front lawn got mowed... to save taking the clippings down the back to the compost heap  :-/  Some people swear by putting clippings straight on their gardens.  I was told by someone a long time ago that fresh clippings put directly on your garden are too 'acidic' for the soil and the plants...  so I never do it just in case  : )  That idea seemed to make sense to me.  Perhaps someone out there has some information about this too.  

So...  here's my little circle garden.  I planted a few little pumpkin plants that were self-sown from the compost that I dug into the 'path' gardens when I first started them in October (2009).  Viable pumpkin seeds must have been put in the compost that was 'brewing' before I got to this house  : )   Again... you can see here how poor the 'soil' is...  Poor little ponga tree (tree fern) in the middle...  it was really struggling.   So much for putting clippings directly on the soil, huh?

10 weeks on:  Lots of good growth
This second lot of photos were taken at the end of December 2009, on around the 27th and 28th.  The ground is very dry as you can see, but with lots of watering, things kept growing and we had a 'bumper crop' of tomatoes from January 2010 through March/April. It was quite amazing really that the ground gave so much.  Maybe the plants were just responding to my vibrations...  I was always in the garden...  'loving' everything along  : )   ... because 'scientifically', this soil wasn't 'up to much'.  

"Mixed veges"  ~  tomatoes, silverbeet, red lettuce, marigolds...  also edible

"Tomato flowers" - the look of 'promise'.  Tomatoes staked and tied.  Take out the 'laterals in the 'elbow' between the main stalk and the leaf.  If you leave them on the plant, the plant tends to become very bushy and doesn't produce such big fruit. They're very easy to pluck out carefully with your fingers.

               "Rose bush, rhubarb, dahlias"

                  "Cape gooseberries and marigolds"  ~  very dry soil.

The archway is not up yet in these pics.  I had kept a vision in my mind for around 2-3 years previously of living in an old-style house or cottage that had a lovely front garden with an old-fashioned rose arch. I was delighted to find that my landlady's adjoining property, now sold and built on, actually had a rose arch down in the far corner, over-grown with all kinds of 'stuff' so I never noticed it when I first moved into this house in September.  I expressed to her my interest to have the rose arch over the front path. Within weeks, the arch was up, some time in late January from memory  : )   ~ ahhh... the 'power' of visualisation, eh?

15 weeks on:  growth lush and abundant !!
Here are some pics here dated early Feb 2010.   You can see that the rose arch is in place now but with nothing yet planted to grow up it.  It looks like the soil is still not dug yet on the right-hand side of the path.  Apparently, I was really 'excited' about finishing this laborious job.  My house-guest of the time, Oscar actually pitched in a hand at that stage...  scraping off the top layer of lawn and digging around in the very hard sun-baked soil...  hard going.  Thanks Oscar.  It looks as though we were 'between' lawn mower contractors at this time  : )

                           Urban gardening gone wild !!  :D

                           Fantastic production... ground weed cover, plants seeding  :D

          L-R:  tomato, capsicum, cos lettuce, rhubarb, coriander in flower, dahlia...                                 all in a very small space  :D  This is an area of around 1m x 0.70   Lots of food  : )

The Cape Gooseberries went mad in the heat of summer.  Dry ground huh?  I was not persistent in my watering as the season went on (Mar-May 2010) as there were other 'priorities' at the time, as happens in life   : )   My little cape gooseberry bush was probably the plant that suffered the most.  It really dried out and the berries did not ripen... some berries rotted before I saw they were ready.  The plant possibly would have done a bit better without constant watering except that the soil was so poor at that stage.  Finally the gooseberry dried out, burned in the first lot of frosts from June onward and finally died.  I pulled it out in October '10 and it went in the compost bin.  I felt very sad because I hadn't looked after it properly...  not to mention the $16.00  or so it cost me originally for the plant  : (
The story continued however!!  :D  This following summer (Jan-April '11), up popped all of these little cape gooseberry bushes.  Look at that !!  It was a viable plant  :D  It would seem that the seed inside berries was developed enough (perhaps the rotted ones) that up little plants sprung out of the compost that had been 'brewing' over the spring.  I love this...  how nature works so easily !!  :D    I now have 3 large'ish gooseberry bushes coming along on the north side of the house under the eaves along with around 10 smaller plants I have put there temporarily to weather through the winter.  
There's still a good 10 or so plants of varying sizes in the 'path' garden to give away forDachnik Day gifts :D   They seem to be surviving the winter OK out in the open...  Maybe because it's been a milder winter this year...  I was in barefeet yesterday out digging and weeding for 5 hours...  I tell a fib...  I usually slide on my trusty old leather jandals when i'm digging.  They're over 10 years old and still going strong as my 'gardening shoes'  :D Fancy that !!  Mid-winter gardening in bare feet...  shows you how 'warm' it is in NZ this year. Today's a lot chillier though...  definitely a 'sandshoe day'  : )   bbbrrrrrr...
Please let me know if you're in Hamilton any time and I can pass you on a couple of wee gooseberry bushes that have sprung up all on their own   : )

The ponga now has 'friends' which i'm sure it really enjoyed  :D  The pumpkins provided really great ground cover for the summer heat.  Even though I watered all the time, I only got a couple of very small pumpkins from this plot.  I was able to make a few pots of soup though using the male flowers of the pumpkin.  This is a delicious light summer soup using an onion basically and chopped up male pumpkin flowers.  It's quite refreshing.  Add whole in-season tomato, garlic, etc. if you want  : )

The mixed flower and vege garden at it's 'height' in the summer (Dec-April) of 2010.  It was beautiful, productive and fragrant.  It was a pleasure to wander down the path after work in the evening and take in the fragrances of the flowers and 'eye' something up for dinner  :D  You can see 'cosmos' in the background against the house.  It made quite a show once it started flowering ~ pinks, whites, rich burgundies  :D   No photos unfortunately of the cosmos.  It flowered for ages though in this sheltered position  : )

Rose:  "Iceberg" standard on a clear blue-sky day in Hamilton NZ.  Just to the left out of frame is the direction of where I 'saw' 6 or so UFO's hovering in a dream i'd had, way before I moved into this house.  Interesting dream...  i'll tell you about it some time.  Butafter  I moved into the house, I recognised the street and the general horizon from my dream of a year or so before...  and the UFO's are still hovering up there, i'm sure  : )   ... moving in and out of vision from the 'parallel reality' where they hover and look after planet earth and humanity.  We're such a bunch of klutzes !!  We sure need looking after at the moment...  have you seen the US and Euro exchange rates today ??  *shakes head*  I detract...

Rose:  "Satin Ribbon"  ~ an 'old fashioned' variety...  after early morning rain  : )  This rose is beautiful in every way...  the 'embodiment' of "Delight"  : )

Today, I weeded the 2nd side of my front path.  I did the right-hand side a couple of weeks ago.  This evening, I did the left-hand side.  It felt really good to be clearing away the hen and chicken weeks, the kaikuia grass and miscellaneous other weeds. There's heaps of baby Cape Gooseberry and Passionfruit plants in there (all self-sown) under the silverbeet, the standard roses and around the strawberry plants. 
Today !!  I had 5 Monarch Butterflies emerge.  4 look OK ~ wings unfurled.  I brought the 5th one indoors as it's going to be cool tonight.  His wings were still crumpled...  he'd only hatched a couple of hours before sundown.  It  looks like he didn't make it.  That's a shame.  Ah well ~  it was a beautiful, cloudy evening in the garden ~ not too cool, and with glimpses of the sun.  And so cool finding all of these little plants bursting with life-force.  I found a lovely self-sown patch of baby ferns under some carrots.  I'll let them get bigger and transplant them over in the circle garden with the Ponga (tree fern).  Plants of a similar type usually enjoy each other's company. 
My next step soon is to locate Kings Seeds online...  They have Organic and Heritage varieties of seed.  They're quite expensive, but i'm tired of so many of the plants in my garden not giving seed...  that's part of the conspiracy isn't it?  To sell hybrid seed.  I'm looking forward to ordering my new viable seeds and planning plantings for late autumn and early spring.  I'm carefully cutting the eyes from my organic potatoes currently.  They will be in the ground out the back within the next 2 weeks as well.  I love the joy of gardening.   There are no worries in the garden.  Only joy and blessings.
by Bronwyn
Original Post Apr 21st 2011 RC Action Network

Today I touched the earth again. 
First of all I walked.  I had a backpack filled with fruit from our feijoa tree.  The best I can describe a feijoa (fee-jo-wa)  is that it is a small green fruit, somewhat brighter green than the green of a mango skin, they are usually around 2" (10cm) long and egg-shaped, but slimmer.  The outside is quite firm unless very ripe.  You cut them in half like a boiled egg and inside is flesh about the colour of a banana.  They flesh is kind of grainy but they're sweet, tangy-sour and juicy.  You scoop it out with a teaspoon and just eat.  They're full of Vitamin C.  Most Kiwis love feijoas.  They extremely aromatic, like fresh guavas. 
I took 1/2 a plastic grocery bag to the kindergarden down the road from me, another 1/2 a bag to one of the 5 sites I work at and another 1/2 a bag to my friend who has 3 children - the one who lives around 40 minutes walk from me.  After I got back, I made yummy Asian-style noodle soup (home made) and then read some more of "Who are we?" for an hour or so.  After I sensed some energy returning, I went and emptied our small compost (half gallon drum size)  and mixed the contents better than currently and took out a lot of grape vine prunings from last year that were just not decomposing quickly.  I'll burn these now and sprinkle the ashes on my garden as 'potash' which the garden likes. 
After reorganizing the compost, some of the resulting worm castings, or 'soil' was going to be enough to dig into part of a garden i've been wanting to attend to.  I weeded out this garden (beside a path), deep dug the soil, and spread the composted soil on top, digging again.  Because it's on the North side of the house, I figured that my little self-sown Cape Gooseberry plants would go well there as the sun gets low in the sky and will shine in there all winter.  Last year my Cape Gooseberry bush in my front garden died after being in the frost.  I now have 3 bushes of around 18" each (45cm) in a newly dug bed, in nice fresh compost.  While watching the news and some light entertainment afterwards, I 'shelled' a large bowl of feijoa flesh (it took 2 hours) which is enough to fill my wok and stew up.  I'll divide the fruit into containers and freeze.  It will get turned into apple and feijoa crumble and other such delicacies over the winter...  or just be added cold to breakfast cereals.

That's my day.  It was really good to be active, sharing, growing,  nurturing.   I felt ultra-normal today...  like my old 'normal' self returning.  Thank you everyone for sending me loving thoughts.  I feel much better already  ... still a little way to go, but I feel 50% OK now...  compared to 10% OK on Sunday, when I stayed in my pyjamas all day...  and slept and rested...  just a bit exhausted, that's all.  Funny that !!

by Bronwyn
Original Post: Apr 15th 2011 RC Action Network

Hey Bronny,
I just caught up with this particular blog, wow, great effort in your garden!  You probably have sourced Kings seeds by now but I wanted to mention to you about our little organic centre in Riverton, we have a seed savers group and it is fantastic, we buy the seeds for very little and in return we save seed to go back into the pool.  Perhaps you have something similar up North?? I definitely stick to organic or heritage seeds now.  My first effort at saving carrot seeds was hilarious as I thought why stop at just letting one carrot go to seed?? I allowed 4, resulting in about a million seeds :-) My lovely fiance built me a covered vege garden earlier in the year as I was loosing plants to my houdini chooks and also a possum or a hare during the night.  We grabbed a couple of trailer loads of normal soil from the neighbouring dairy farmers underpass pile, some seaweed, newspapers and also a trailer load of organic compost from a nursery in town and I had amazing success!  I actually popped a pea seed in my mouth while getting things ready (as Anastasia suggests) The peas I planted were huge!  They grew taller than me, the stalks were very thick and healthy and the peas sooooo yummy I wished I planted more!  I have never seen such amazing pea plants and as I type this I am wondering if I took a photo, will have to have a look!!!  Doesn't the food out of your own vege garden taste the best??!!  Well worth the effort :-)  My kids all want their own vege plots at the new place, I had to laugh the other day when they were discussing what they would plant in their own plots and my step-son John said "of course if I have some veges left over, you can use them to cook meals for us Karla"   So kind!!! 
: )

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