This is my first post for the wonderful initiative that is The Garden Share Collective dreamed up by Lizzie from Strayed From the Table. Gardeners love nothing more than chatting about their triumphs and flops so this is a fabulous way of getting inspiration and support from other like minded folk!
I thought I’d start with a Before and After shot of my Vege garden.
We moved to New Zealand in 2009 and bought a house on a 20 acre apple/cherry orchard and one of the first things we did was create a vege garden in the 2 acres of garden that we have. Mr Fig made the raised beds for me and we arranged them in a kind of octagon shape with three square beds in the centre. This layout has worked well over the past four years although we have extended the garden somewhat; a potato/squash bed, a cucumber/gerkin/squash walkway and a herb spiral. The honeysuckle entrance is one of my favourite parts; I wanted to feel as if I was walking into a room or a very well stocked pantry! The scent is gorgeous and it attracts bees so thumbs up all round. I’m planning on growing a scented rose on the far archway this Spring where I usually grow sweetpeas. If anyone has a recommendation I’m all ears. I love growing flowers in with the veges; my favourites are calendula, heartsease, borage and dalias. I planted the wrong type of marigold last year and the variety ‘sugar and spice’ grew as tall as the tomatoes! Everyone who visited loved the colour though and my toms were very healthy! I’m going to grow Nasturtium ‘Peach melba’ through my courgettes this year and viola ‘Chicky Chicks’ in the Pimm’s bed. I’ve also been tempted by Sunflower ‘Golden Toasted’ which has edible seeds. You simply soak the seeds in salt and/or spiced water for a few hours, pat dry then roast in the oven or microwave.
I’m not much of a winter gardener it has to be said but I always plant garlic. I plaited my garlic harvest for the first time last year and I get a little rush of pleasure every time I walk past it or snip one off to use for dinner.
I also love to grow herbs all year round. They have a much better flavour than the supermarket herbs and are much cheaper. Winter is the only time that I have any success with coriander and dill; it’s much too hot for them in the summer and they bolt so quickly.
I also managed to grow a mountain of parsley this winter. It’s in a flower bed because I thought it was Candytuft that I had grown from seed! Must remember to label seedlings next spring….
I’ve also added silverbeet ‘Rainbow Lights” to the garden this year. It’s great in stir fries and a substitute for spinach (my spinach has a long way to grow) and looks beautiful with the sunlight shining through the stems. Pak choi is another favourite winter green and, again, I use it much as I would spinach. It probably looks as if my pak choi is in prison with the docking gate behind it! The naughty chooks adore pak choi; they pecked their way through my first sowing so Mr Fig exercised his Kiwi Ingenuity and constructed a functional (if not downright ugly) cage for them from an old docking gate and some netting and bamboo canes. Some of my veges are lucky enough to have proper cages made out of pvc piping and netting!
There’s always room for lettuce too and I have sown some microgreens in an old wooden crate. Microgreens really tart up a salad! They are very nutritious too of course and are the ultimate in Fast Food since some varieties are ready for harvest in just 10 days. I grow about four varieties in strips. Press the seed gently into the soil and cover lightly with potting mix. I choose different colours and textures so they look really pretty. My favourites are Pea ‘Fiji Feathers’, Beetroot ‘Bull’s Blood’, Mustard Streaks (Brassica juncea) and Radish Rambo. I’m going to try Beet ‘Rainbow Lights’ as a microgreen this year too – so pretty.
Growing away merrily oblivious of the weeds (or perhaps too polite to say anything) are my Sweet Peas. If I absolutely had to choose my favourite all time flower the Sweet Pea may well be It; the colour, the scent, the way I can just plonk a handful in a vase and they still look gorgeous…… sweet peas rock.
Now I’ve been saving one of my most exiting projects till last…..here they are…..
….my beautiful compost bins! I’m looking forward to getting to grips with the magic that is Compost Making. Turns out I’m not the only one who thinks they’re pretty cool. The Figlets had a great time one afternoon!
Tasks to be Tackled
Pimm’s Bed – I need to dig out the soil and weed mat it because couch grass has just Taken Over this space grrrrr. It’s a Battle I will Never Win but I can make it hard for them without resorting to Chemical Warfare…. I’ll then plant up with strawberries, cucumber, mint, borage and Viola ‘Chicky Chicks’ for the Ultimate Pimm’s. I’m also vaguely thinking about a Cup of Tea bed; basically a bed full to the brim with herbs that make a good cuppa; mint, lemon balm, fennel, violet, chamomile and lemon grass. I’m wondering whether a glass of chilled violet tea would taste anything like those violet sweets I used to eat as a child……
Clean out the greenhouse – I must clear all the cobwebs that are decorating not just the corners but the ceiling and the walls and the seed trays and harvest the last of the chillies.
Dig in lots of sheep poo from under the sheep shed of my Crazy Farmer Friend who is busy milking cows at the moment to feed her gorgeous little calves (I feel another post coming on!)
Weed, weed and weed some more and weed mat the garden paths.
And my personal favourite job…..order seeds for spring! I had a clear out of my Seed Box and look what I found….
Lots and lots of seeds (only three out of date but I’m sure they’re fine) and three “Mystery Seed Packets”…. I wonder what they are? That’ll teach me for leaving them out whilst watering the greenhouse…. Do I really need to order more seeds? Well of course I do!
So many plans and thoughts for the garden this year! Here are a few heart warming pics of Nearly Spring in my garden! See you next month.