Thursday, January 24, 2008

logic comes slowly,

more slowly to some than others.

. . .

Only six months after starting to blog, the value of labelling posts has finally dawned upon me. It took a change of calendar year for me to notice that you can't bring up monthly lists of posts earlier than in the current year.

So that would leave using labels as a method of finding out when I planted the first lot of marigolds, wouldn't it?


So I've been back and begun to label. I've labelled the first six or so posts.
The photo at the top is two years old. For an explanation of why this blog is woefully thin on photos and that when they do come, they are invariably at least two weeks old, please see here. There is some other complication on the other computer which is amplifying the photo delay at the moment. I try not to get too involved. Anyway, Favourite Handyman is busy replacing rotten bits of wood on the wash-house/toilet window. Yes, even at 9.30pm at night.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Summer of love

This summer is and has been perfect. Six weeks of all four of us together, growing our home and enjoying each other. Nothing can take that away from us. Favourite Handyman has to start paid work again next week and the week after Fionn will start school for the first time. What I'll do paid-work wise is still up in the air - I've been offered work, but the hours don't work for me.

Autumn surely has to follow Summer. I never want to forget this Summer though.

seed sowing, local shopping, organic eating

blah blah. I'm feeling quite the earth mother today.

This evening I sowed eight different kinds of seeds:
1. arugula - which is like rocket but apparently is less inclined to bolt. My understanding of the catalogue description is that I can get growth year round with this seed.
2. calendula - I bought a dwarf mixed colour packet to add to my colour splashes as last year's calendula was so kind to me and flowered all through winter despite total neglect on my part.
3. violas - Heartsease Miss Helen Mount which I've been coveting a while..
4. Welsh Bunching Onions
5. Radish - a gourmet blend apparently
6. broccolli
7. kale - hopefully I won't throw a tantrum and destroy the broccoli and kale if I find a caterpillar like last time.
8. marjoram - cos we haven't got any and I want to see how different it tastes to our Greek Oregano.

Zucchinis are growing more strongly again which no doubt has nothing to do with me throwing wet piles of horse manure around the plants last week. Last August I made some horse poo brew and last August is really a long time ago now. I'd used the brew a few times and then forgot about it as the tree growth covered the brew bin. But since Favourite Handyman cut all bar one of the trees down and let in the light, the brew bin looked silly and like it should be used UP. So I sloshed it in lots of places and we'll see what happens next.

Today I collected a bulk order of sausages from the fabulous Blackball Salami Company, took delivery of some avocadoes from Doug at Eco Avo and discussed a first delivery with Dieter of Treedimensions.

Cos I'm on a foodie roll at the moment, chicken stock is bubbling gently as I write.

Exciting news also came in the form of an email about an organic co-op in the next town which is only 30 minutes' drive from me. It's up and running now and I'm itching to check it out.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

sprouts etc.

Writing this down so I remember that today I did do something that wasn't cleaning or childcare. I need to know every day that I have done something beyond these two tasks or I disappear.
1. Started six jars of sprouts with Fionn. Whero peas, radish, onions, alfalfa. I've never sprouted whero peas or onions before. I adore radish sprouts.
2. Made hummous. I make lots of hummous. Today I added some flax seed oil from Waihi Bush to enhance the nutritive effect of an already excellent food healthwise. Also added fresh mint, parsley and basil.
3. Made pesto using garlic, cashews, basil, parsley, olive oil and romano cheese. Romano cheese, I am now able to report, tastes a lot like parmesan but very slightly not so tasty. Thought I'd try it for a change. Cashews taste fine in the pesto and are less pricey than pinenuts. I tried using sunflower seeds instead once but wasn't much impressed by the results.
4. Roasted the two silkie roosters. Black skin and speckled flesh. Tasty but I don't think roasting it is the best match for the flavours. Visually very unusual. If I get another opportunity to cook silkie meat, I think I'll find some Chinese cooking recipes for it. We used most of one bird for dinner. Perhaps I could muck around with some Chinese flavourings and do stir fried reheated chicken shred tomorrow. Meals this week are definitely going to be all about chicken. I've kept the heads, necks and feet for making stock.

Also the Kings seeds order arrived. Which made my day except it rained all day so I couldn't sow as the progeny and I don't all fit in the tiny spot of shelter sitting in the potting shed. Favourite Handyman calls it the tool shed but I think his tools need to move east just as soon as the big shed door gets fixed so it can be locked.

I went to the chiropractor this morning which means I didn't limp anywhere today. A good development.

I should be reading my book group book - A Fine Balance by Rohan Mistry. It is long long long with fine print and I read five pages and all that happened is one guy bought a comb on a train. I kow literature isn't all about plot but I thought this a bit extreme. Odds of me finishing it are very poor. Or even reading any more of it. I wonder who is to blame in our group for choosing that book? It might be polite for me not to ask, I suppose.

About the post title. My English teacher in the third form told me that using' etc.' is lazy and should be avoided. She remains correct. I am guilty of lazy, slovenly writing. I think I'll go find the treat beer gifted to us recently by a friend. It's called Stonecutter and is a Scotch Ale.

And I can now tell you that I like it.

Monday, January 21, 2008


Today we were given two Silkie roosters by our wonderful friend Raelene. Favourite Handyman killed and plucked them, I gutted and hung them (just for a few hours given the high temperatures) and now they are in our fridge. Silkies are a very interesting bird (to me anyway). They have black skin and dark flesh. The feathers on ours were white though apparently they are found with other colours. They are small and apparently more tasty than other chooks and sought after by Chinese restaurants. They are also quiet birds (when alive) and they are currently top of my list for the kind of chooks I want.

I've spoken to two of our neighbours about me having chooks and they are both really enthusiastic. The lovely Barry even said he would like to hear them.

When we weren't doing murdering activities today, Favourite Handyman built a path between two raised beds out of newspaper, sand and recycled paving stones. It is fantastic. Fionn and I got the seed packets out and sowed some basil, swiss chard, Flanders poppies, calendula and parsley. Then I transplanted some lettuce and swiss chard seedlings into the garden while Fionn made a fountain out of the seed spraying (fine mist watering) bottle. Finally we transferred out comfrey plant from its pot to the front garden. It is definitely a statement of gardening values that I've chosen to use the spot which makes the first impression on guests to make compost materials. I'm much more into the living garden space that we enjoy every day out the back than the front part and the front garden is also very contained in terms of the comfrey not invading other garden spots.

I'm eagerly anticipating a delivery from Kings Seeds any day now.

I wonder when we will eat the one and only carrot which I managed to grow this summer? What occasion could be special enough?


A first last night: I finally tried eating nasturtiums. They tasted nice. Useful as we have heaps growing wild. Bigger story. I put them in a salad I made when the neighbours across the road (we are immediately bordered by seven houses plus have three neighbours across the road), whom I've met briefly once, invited us round for a barbecue. A sausage and a beer they said. Which reminds me just how classicly understated New Zealanders can be. It was a completely gorgeous spread. Very nice people too. It's a while since I've walked into a party and known no one at all and even me the chronic extrovert and seasoned 'it's-a-new-town-so-I'll-get-out-there-and-make-friends' person had to take a deep breath and keep walking in.

Anway despite the excellent company and excellent food, it turned out no one was a vege gardener and of course no one knew me well enough to recognise that everything in the salad (tomatoes, chives, different types and colours of lettuce, nasturtiums) was home grown. So I didn't properly get to show off. I've been gifting lots of food (home grown or home made) of late, and I don't think it is mostly altruism, it's mostly so I can show off.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

pasta sauce recipe

I'm writing down roughly what I've been making so I have a record for next year. I used the pressure cooker as an ordinary pot because it is a good size and has a very heavy bottom.
3kg ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
3 large onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
other veg - 4 zucchini in first batch, 4 red peppers in the second
fresh herbs - oregano and thyme in this instance
1/4 C olive oil

Saute onions and veg and garlic in the olive oil. Add chopped tomatoes and stir fairly often. I have it cooking as I chop the tomatoes. I left this cooking for probably 90 minutes (stirring every few minutes, but it is more forgiving on stirring lapses than making tomato sauce), then let it cool and put it into freezer bags in lots of about 750gm (the size of large bought pasta sauce jars). I put the fresh herbs in on their stems and then pulled them out part way through. For the first batch, I also chopped some silverbeet up and put it in for the last half hour.

I opted for freezing after seeking advice on a few forums and looking around my recipe books and the internet. Seems tomatoes are borderline for preserving without something called a pressure canner. I can't be bothered with all that water bath stuff you have to do with preserving apricots so didn't want to try that either.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

liberation theology article

Sometimes I think about religious issues, partly because sometimes I just do because I wonder about what helps us humans to be positive about the nature of humanity and to consider the greater good to be worthwhile vs nihilism. Years ago someone (John Gourley of Christchurch for anyone who has had the pleasure of knowing him) suggested to me that without God you were a nihilist and if you weren't a nihilist then you were for God whether you acknowledged it or not. I apologise if I have misunderstood or misquoted John, but it is an idea that I've wondered about ever since.

Anyway I got a notion to do a google search on blog + liberation theology while eating my lunch amd thought I would share this link from a group of students in the US. Some useful definitions there and some stuff that I wouldn't like to be trying to defend. I went to Rome with Favourite Handyman (then known to me as Favourite Travelling Companion as we then lived in a box not requiring any handywork) in 2001. I thought it would be special to me, given my Catholic roots, but it left me cold. It symbolises institutional corruption and one reason I don't regularly attend Mass. I certainly don't consider it unique amongst corrupt human-ordered institutions related to the worship of God. Or Allah or any other deity. All that wealth. Not the representation of St Peter that I find to be a positive force in my community.

So if you read the link, you may discern why I feel it unlikely I'll be throwing myself back into Church life during the 'reign' of our current Pope. Catholicism is part of my culture though. The music and symbolism, the stories, the call to social justice, they all gave a richness to my early years which suburban domesticity otherwise failed to do. I won't be letting Pope Benedict set all the terms of participation in a culture that does not have to be so hierarchical, conservative and right wing. I'm still a Lapsed Catholic and I still reserve the right to challenge any representative of hierarchy on whether they are acting for good or for bad.

a beautiful image

Take a look at this for evocative imagery and photos and a great stash of interesting articles. Should keep me going when housework threatens on rainy days.

more land! more land!

Not buying some - I'm supposed to be all about solvency you know.

But two great things have happened in recent days. First favourite handyman has been lopping, sawing and mulching the ugly and overgrown trees at the front of the garage. We'd never seen light on the ground (or indeed much ground) on that area once until earlier this week, and now we have the makings of another garden plot. I'm thinking potatoes or pumpkins. It borders the driveway/road so fruit might be too tempting for passers-by, and I need low maintenance type veges as I can't safely garden out there with Brighid (nearly one).

The second excellent development has been in invasive garden patch. This was also an area of total overgrown ugly-treeness when we moved in and I rather infamously tried to get lopping in there just three weeks after giving birth to Brighid and ended up contracting something weird and getting extremely ill. Still that was ages ago and (more gently) I've been working on the area since to the point where all the trees are chopped down and mint is flourishing there alongside nasturtiums, wild lillies, convulvulus, wandering jew and docks. That area has been used as a grass clippings compost in the past (pre-us) and the soil is lovely and dark and crumbly, just like the books tell you is best. Yesterday I finally got round to burying the rest of the Bokashi. As the lawn was rock hard, I abandoned my idea of digging a spot, preparing it with Bokashi and later planting our Feijoa in it. Instead I dug up part of the invasive garden. Full of roots from chopped down trees and other previously mentioned plants, but otherwise beautiful. So I'm inspired to put more work in there and get some edibles going in it. Current thoughts are rhubarb - that doesn't need full sun does it? It gets afternoon sun.

Last night I began stage three of the invasive garden patch by clipping huge flowering docks into an old potting mix bag. Don't know whether today will be about gardening or tomato sauce making.

Friday, January 18, 2008

I have a tomato bug and I need help...

Probably have them on my vines as well, but what I mean here is that, spurred on by yesterday's success, I'm keen on making more preserved tomato products. Some things I can freeze, and I'll be doing a few more batches of tomato sauce (I have a large pan but it will only take six kilos of tomatoes at a time). But I have the jars from the pasta sauce that I buy on special sometimes at the supermarket and I'm trying to work out how/whether I can make my own pasta sauce and preserve in the same jars. Our freezer space is limited and so preserving in jars is best if possible.

Any and all suggestions (recipes, tips and stories of your own success with this!) gratefully received.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

sauce and strikes

So today I made tomato sauce, deciding to leave passata and sofrito experiments for another day. The recipe (Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall's, with a few tips from my Mum's recipe added in) did not advise walking outside in the middle with the roaring baby and then noticing that a caterpillar is eating my latest kale and broccolli seedlings, getting hump with it and killing it and all the seedlings and then going inside and finding the sauce burning on the bottom. Picking that out of the mix occupied a bit of time.

Still, it tastes great and nobody noticed the remaining black bits when we gifted a bottle to our dinner hosts this evening.

We spent part of the evening with friends talking about the centenary of the Blackball strike, the reason that Blackball (a tiny village on the West Coast) is often seen as the birthplace of the union movement in New Zealand. Celebrations are this Easter and more information is here. I'm looking forward to it a great deal.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


to myself, for tomorrow
I want to plant some basil inside and some coriander outside. Half the basil can go outside once it is established. My outside basil is in great shape. Aphids have infested the existing inside basil.

The coriander may well bolt quickly, though I will put it in a pot in the shade. But the flowers and seeds are both pretty and tasty.

I also want to turn the 6kg of sauce tomatoes I bought yesterday into sofrito or passata. I will do some ordinary sauce at some point, but want to play around as well. Most of our own tomatoes are cherry tomatoes which aren't much good for sauce. Now I've worked out that they are ripe at apricot colour rather than yellow, we've all been finding them pretty tasty and the way they ripen just a few at a time is excellent for salads and nibbling. Next year I will aim to have some staggered varieties and some where the crop ripens all at once. The all at once type would be good for preserving.

I have yet to finish burying the Bokashi as I couldn't fit it all in my first spot. So there is that and then a walk around admiring all of our wood chip mulch. It rocks.

I did heaps more mulching in the afternoon and now have a thick layer on four of my garden beds. I got a bit impatient with some of my beetroot for not growing fast enough and pulled it out. By contrast, I'm finding my lettuces (a mesclun mix) too beautiful to pick. Of the 24 seedlings I potted up earlier in the week, I've given away three and might end up decorating the rest of the garden with lettuces.

Went for an impromptu picnic with friends by a river this evening. Our friends have access through private land to the warmest and most beautiful river spot I've seen in ages. We had to cross the river to get to the picnic spot with babies, wine and dinner on our backs. Truly fantastic. I feel so lucky to be alive and so blessed tonight.

Favourite Handyman and I have been discussing 'affluenza' of late, particularly following an article by Oliver James in the Guardian Weekly. This link is a review of his book, as I cannot find the paper article online. We are convinced that always trying to do something to lessen global oppression is worthwhile. Flinging of hands and ignoring the issues as 'too hard' to our minds creates the message that oppression for western comfort is in some way acceptable, even the natural order of things. Growing our own veges, wearing hand me downs and charity shop clothes, driving one car only. They are the things which make us feel like we are moving in the right direction. Probably the biggest most helpful thing for us is realising we are in paradise, very wealthy and coveting fewer and fewer material goods. I know there is a soapbox here, but recording this is useful for me, to remember how I think now, to push me to make more change in my life in the future.

admiring the gardens over east

well Leanne's anyway. How gorgeous is that?

I've been burying more Bokashi this morning. This time I'm digging into sand it seems. We live on a rise about 300 metres from the beach. The area where we live is an old gold dredging site and exactly where our 809 sqm fits into that history I'm not sure. I do notice big differences in the composition of the soil in different parts of the garden though. Because the house has always been tenanted until we bought it, I'm creating garden out of soil that hasn't been gardened in for years and in patches possibly forever.

Favourite Handyman has been lopping branches and mulching them all morning. I've just put another barrowload of wood chip mulch on my lettuce/silverbeet/leek/2 red onions and 1 carrot/not much beetroot left garden. What a wonderful difference.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


Some photos of the garden. I don't think I'm going to be a professional photographer somehow. These were the best of the garden ones... The beetroot is chioggia and I love cutting it up for the pleasure of seeing the red and white concentric rings. I made small sticks of it in a salad the other day and they looked like candy. The garden photo is the new raised bed I made earlier this month. Today we had the loan of a shredder and Favourite Handyman worked all day shredding branches and thus this new bed now has an added layer of chip mulch on it. The front garden (will have more herbs which tolerate the shade soon) is now mulched up, as is the garlic bed.
The sunflower pic is because sunflowers are too gorgeous to ever get sick of looking at. Only four plants out of my sowing of 20 survived, but they have rewarded us greatly for our perseverance. These ones are dwarf and the packet of skyscrapers never went in this summer. Always next time. I'll be starting next year's batch inside this time - it was just too cold I think. Plus the blackbirds.

Monday, January 14, 2008

garden roundup

I've had a week off gardening while I got rather serious on the parenting thing and planned and threw a fifth birthday party for Fionn. Pirate everything. Was marvellous. I'll have a bit more of my own life and interests back again now thanks.

In NZ, glycophosphate is called 'roundup' but that doesn't touch my garden.

We've been eating zucchinis (I even made pickle earlier this month), beetroot, silverbeet, lettuces and potatoes from the garden. All good. Recent weather has been hot and humid and the green veg are responding by growing noticeably faster. I have a little bit of everything and no gluts (the pickle was from looking after a friend's garden who does have gluts). Shame I haven't managed to get carrots to grow yet. I've read the good things to do but I just forget or don't manage to do them. Constant even moisture apparently. I'll keep trying.

Today I transplanted 24 lettuces into small pots and 9 silverbeets. Twentyfour is a few more than we need to eat in one week, but I'll find good homes for them. Most of the silverbeet will go to my chook keeping friend Rayleen when they are bigger. Rayleen also has a source of sheep poo for me at her brother's farm up the valley. Looking forward to that outing. I'm not joking, though I accept that you might prefer to think I am.

My comfrey plant is growing very very well in its pot, doubling in size in less than a month. I'm going to divide it soon (I hope) and put some of it in the front garden (I guess we will just scream permaculture hippy from the moment people pull up the drive then. oh well) and some in my invasive patch where it can hang out with the mint (planted there by me), the nasturtium, (growing wild but welcome) and the Wandering Jew, Docks, Convulvulus who are like lecherous men in seedy bars. Always hanging round and never appealing.

recycled treasure

We have been very very super lucky recently. Two more friends have passed on to us materials they no longer need and so now we have a houselot of old window frames (with glass intact on most of them) which Favourite Handyman will turn into a glass house and posts and chicken wire and fencing mesh which will be used for the chook house and for growing beans and flowers and squash on.

I really liked the programme "The Wombles" as a young child. I think the legacy is evident. I recall the trip we made to see Wimbledon Common when we were living in London. Never mind the tennis, I wanted to see the purported home of Madame Cholet and Uncle Tobermory. Lovely day out it was too.

some rearranging, some linking

High time I revisited my list of growing projects, which I've just done on the sidebar (is that the correct term?). I've stuck with what is in the garden at the moment and been pleased to see more successes than I had thought, compared with my previous Spring planting list.

I will have more to add shortly, as I posted another Kings Seeds order off yesterday. I'm aiming for a diverse range of winter greens this year, including foods I have never even tasted such as Mizuna and Black Radishes.

I do have favourite blogs and until now have not managed a blogroll (hoping I have the correct terminology yet again). So here is an annotated sample, and hopefully I will create my own blogroll soon. Nobody who I see locally, to my knowledge, has a blog. Not that I have mentioned locally that I have a blog either - it seems to be my 'other life' pastime, the one which is not connected to what the baby has eaten or where to buy school uniform.

Nikki, Sharon and Rachael are three very fine women who I knew online before they were blogging. They all combine gardening and parenting with thinking outside the square. Everybody else calls Rachael 'Rach, but I can't. She is 100% Rachael in my head and nothing has managed to change that.

I could give you a list of women who I would love to see blogging but that wouldn't enable you to harass them. So I need to do it privately. Tania I haven't changed my mind about wanting to see you blogging. Nor Jemma...

I like this permaculture blog. I've mentioned the wonderfully named Bifurcated Carrots before.

A regular read for me is Beansprouts. Melanie at Beansprouts consistently writes very interesting things and I feel like I have learnt a lot about her via this crazy but fun modern phenomenon of blogging. But like a grizzly old lady, I am about to grizzle. What is it with this craze for having sound on blogs? Internet time is peaceful time for me, as the day invariably involves large amounts of small child noise and I really dislike sites with noise. All computer noise is bad in my old lady universe despite the fact that I'm not really old at all.

Much as I like the sense of a community of bloggers, I'm still jolted and surprised when someone finds me from nowhere. I don't know what expectations people have and, just like in face to face local encounters, what makes two people click, clash or slide off each other's radar is difficult to explain. But here in Sandra's garden is not a place for consistency. I rarely make labels for my posts and mostly do gardening posts but not always. Sometimes I'm thinking about something else completely and here is where it goes. Filing is not in my nature.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

How far are we living on moral capital?

This post is particularly for Rachael. The title is taken from this article which was reproduced recently in the Guardian Weekly. I have taken the title of my post from the article as that question, that paragraph, is one I have wondered about myself. Still wondering, no 'answers' though.

Thursday, January 3, 2008


Have I mentioned I want chooks? Oh only five times this week.

Well I still want chooks and I am fairly determined to get them. Still planning the chook coop and organising Favourite Handyman to make it.

Apparently some breeds are quieter than others and thus particularly suited to suburban life. If I could get fairly quiet birds and no roosters, then I think my neighbours would be fine about the project, especially with a little egg gift bribing, oops egg gifting. Can't see they'll be any noisier than my children and the neighbours seem to like them.

Need to do more research and find which breeds are quiet ones.

mulch, Bokashi

Slowly, slowly I am getting the point that gardening is about mulch because mulch is about good soil and gardening is all about soil quality. I've read it many times but as with so many things in life, doing is my way to learn and eventually accept that others are correct in their advice. The vege garden area which I mulched yesterday is looking better already. I'd mulched around one parsley plant a week or two ago and lifting the peastraw today, the difference between the muched soil and the outlying bare soil was significant. So I added pea straw to my newly composted area that recently held non-performing brassicas tonight and then watered over it with Bokashi liquid (waterd down to some appropriate looking ratio) in the watering can.

That was after I'd buried the latest Bokashi mix in an area of lawn until now untouched by my gardening fingers. Ha ha ha, nothing is safe forever. It is by a boundary fence where the neighbours have lots of large trees so I'd expect the soil nutrients to be all taken up by the tree roots. Since we culled the large bush/tree ruining that area, the lone plant which looks like a zantedeschia of some kind has started to look more healthy and one day it might even get healthy enough to flower for me. So I dug up the soil beside the zantedeschia (canna lilly I think) and found:
1. a few worms. good.
2. dry soil. Par for the course this week, though drier than I'd expected.
3. plastic rubbish. Previous inhabitants of our house have left plastic legacies all over the section.
4. Lots of roots. Expected.
5. Some vertebrae with spiky bits on them. Sharp and not expected. I suspect it is groper bones buried after a fishing outing. I know inhabitants in the past have been keen hunters as one day I met a man who'd once lived here and had arrived to take possession from another town and found the remnants of a recently slaughtered deer in the lounge. I'm pleased to report that much had improved inside our home by the time we bought it 20 years later.

I'm disinclined to plant edibles there at this stage, but flowers could be good. Also thinking of things chickens like, as I may well start the chickens there. When I get them. If I end up having to do a permanent night shelter house rather than a portable one, then that is where it would go.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

New bed #2

Fionn, Brighid and I made the new raised bed today. Prompted by Patrick's recent comment, I did go for the no dig style. Favourite Handyman and I had great success with the no dig raised bed at the beginning of 2007 when we layered cardboard very thickly to cover tree roots which we had found impossible to remove (hiring a digger wasn't an option for us) and then added 30cm worth of compost, straw and soil.

This time we only had lawn and weeds to squash out and the 'walls' of the raised bed are perhaps 10cm high - they are are the old beams from the fence which Favourite Handyman repaired last month. I layered the newspaper thickly. I've had relatives collecting newspaper for me over the last year precisely for these raised bed projects. Fionn watered the newspaper down with the hose. Brighid pressed it down further by crawling all over it. Why use the paddling pool when you can climb in the garden project? Then I emptied the three bags of sawdust/chook manure mix over it which I had from our last visit to Rayleen our wonderful chook keeping friend. Looks pretty good so far and not time intensive to create at all.

Did some culling in the mixed vege garden after that. Pulled the tree spinach as it had gone to seed and didn't taste much good. Also pulled the bok choy that had begun to bolt and the last of the purple sprouting brocolli. I was browsing the Koanga site recently and noticed a comment about purple sprouting brocolli not moving beyond leaf stage in Northland due to the warm weather. Decided that if I'm not going to get any actual brocolli off it until it gets colder, then I may as well get rid of the white butterfly attracting, hole riddled plants and put something else there. I've got tiny wee seedlings of various winter brassicas coming through in pots now which should be more timely.

Things aren't generally growing in the mixed vege garden as quickly as the warm weather and water supplies suggest to me that they could. So I figure that comes down to low soil fertility and thus threw some of our own compost on as mulch and dug in some bought stuff where the brocolli had been. Once we've got our own chooks, I doubt this will as much of an issue.

Rinsed the salt off yesterday's kelp find this afternoon but then realised that my seaweed brew-making bucket is currently housing the Christmas tree. Once I've got a suitable vessel again, I'm planning on cutting up the seaweed into small pieces before I make the brew. Once the brew is poured off twice, then I'll bury the pieces into the area which currently has the garlic once I've lifted the bulbs.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008


I need some slave labour to help me achieve my (many) goals in the garden. And chooks seem the cheapest and most effective. There is wood against the shed which can be used to make a chicken coop once I work out the best plan. I want to be able to move it around the garden. Currently I'm thinking that I want to be able to vary the size of the run rather than have to standardise my raised beds so the chook tractor fits neatly on each one. Everything in my body resists standardisation, of anything, anywhere, anytime. So some metal stakes (we recently inherited some) and chicken wire (not hard to acquire) which could be used to make the required shape depending on where in the garden the chook tractor is. I need to read a bit more and decide whether I have issues with clipping their wings. If I don't, then I won't have to bother about creating a lid for the run.

new bed

garden bed of course. Started to make another raised bed this morning. I removed all the tyres from my potato tyre experiment and the yield was dismal. Compared to the beautiful and bounteous yield from my raised punga bed, the potatoes in the tyres were pathetic. The straw was full of worms though, so that is a useful product of the experiment.

I've got Bokashi to bury and nowhere near enough compost for all the places I need to put it to make a no-dig raised bed. So I need to work with the soil already there and raise it gradually. Tomorrow I hope to dig it up and bury the Bokashi and remove at least some of the major weeds and then cover with peastraw. It is currently lawn, with strong grass and a significant presence of docks, dandelions and daisies, narrow leafed plantain and some funny dense feathery stuff which is really hard to weed out but which I haven't learnt the name of. Will get a photo on here sometime. Actually I neeed to weed everything out of the soil for good long term results but it's not a sexy job.

Had been thinking of another bed beside it for asparagus and rhubarb but my latest thought on that is to give the asparagus the best drained position on the section, which would be to build a bed around where I plonked a zucchini in the middle of the lawn in our most recent Spring.


Back in July when I was permanently attached to the Kings Seeds catalogue for days and probably weeks, I chose two packets of tomato seed. I nurtured Tomato Rainbow Blend Mixture and Tomato Sungold F1 and eventually got to the point today where I have ten plants producing fruit in my garden. More of the cherry tomatoes (Sungold F1) survived to today than of the mixed packet. As they are a fast producer, I've been able to eat some already. They look gorgeous and taste okay. Oops, what was that about? I went back to the seed packet and to the catalogue (my Kings Seed catalogue gets the attention many devout religious people give to their Bible) adnm found I'd purchased a hybrid. Well I'm a bit snobby about such things these days and it will be heirloom seeds all the way next year.

As for the Rainbow Blend, there are some interesting shapes of fruit thus far, but none of them are ready for eating yet. I'm a little frustrated by having to guess the varieties and next year I'll splash out and buy packets of individual varieties.

We may even have a glasshouse next year, but for the meantime I'm assuming that I'll have the same growing conditions in 2008 as 2007 - raising seedlings on the windowsills and planting in pots and against the brick house. I'm thinking about "Sub Arctic Plenty", "Oregon Spring" and "Russian Red" as apparently they cope with low temperatures.

I found one leaf roller caterpillar last week - a fat healthy confident one too. Some of the plants look very healthy and others mostly so. I removed one which wasn't pollinating at all a few days ago. Laterals spring out and up when I'm not looking and I am hoping for some fabulous fruit withing the next two months. Tomatoes have taken up more of my gardening time than anything else I've planted this season.