Monday, October 27, 2008

Gardening Monday

'Labour Weekend' in New Zealand is in the latter part of October each year and is the traditional time to plant tomatoes, pumpkins, beans and other frost tender plants. People where I live often wait a bit longer as Spring is slow to kick off here. I've planted a couple of tomato plants outside but am in no hurry to finish planting. I planted two pumpkins this afternoon and about 65 onions. Then the children and I transplanted lettuce and kale seedlings into pots. They need to get bigger before they can go into the garden.

I've also permanantly lifted the roofing iron from the compost experiment out the front. I'd layered horse poo and pea straw and fabric scraps and shredded paper and then put roofing iron over it all and weighted it down with bricks. There are worms in there so some activity but actually it was too dry in there and so not huge break down. I watered the newly exposed pile with seaweed brew this morning and no doubt it will rain several times this week. The zucchini seedling I have earmarked for this spot is not big enough to transplant yet but most likely will be in a week's time.

I've used last year's strawberry protection frame (made of wire mesh) to go over the top of my rocket seedlings and the big pot which houses my calla lilly. Brighid caused merry havoc with these pots earlier and was furious when I put them out of her grasp.

Favourite Handyman made a splendid contraption for the chooks today. A large (perhaps two metres in diameter) circle of wire mesh with two bamboo poles crossed and attached over the top to lift it by. Then we pegged shade cloth over the top. We moved it (and very light it is too) to Brighid's Forest (small patch of pungas and a cabbage tree) and then put the chooks in there to feast on the long grass and weeds surrounding the trees. Great scheme though I'm about to discover how to get them out soon... I put some water in a bucket inside the circle for them and in summer could easily make a laying box to pop in there and then they could live there for a few weeks. But at the moment the idea is that they live there in the daytime only. I do appreciate not having foxes in New Zealand - it does make housing chooks much easier.

Of course the term "Labour weekend" is a stupid fallacy. It is supposedly a celebration of good working conditions in New Zealand or something like that. But it was deliberately divorced timewise from the traditional May Day labour movement celebrations which are found all over the world. Robbing it of it's political and historical context. The West Coast is the birth place of the union movement and we have celebrations relating to this at Blackball on or around 1 May.

On the subject of politics, I heard Kim Hill running the election debate last night. You'll be able to find it if you look on the National Radio menu. I am a huge and longstanding Kim Hill fan. It's a great incentive to cook on a Sunday night if I get to hear Kim Hill handle our politicians with skill and verve like last night. My favourite line was after Jim Anderton spoke and went something very similar to: "That's the great thing about having Jim Anderton on this debate. It's like going on an archaeological dig."

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