Sep 30, 2007

My veggie garden

I just realised that I hadn't bragged about my veggie patch yet. I do love to have a veggie patch. There's nothing quite so satisfying as watching your own food grow in your own back yard.

I'm a big fan of John Jeavons' "How to Grow More Vegetables..." book. So have thought about incorporating compost crops into my veggie space. I'm also extremely proud of having actually double-dug the patch before planting it out :-)

In our last house I experimented with the no-dig garden method. It was a total loss. I think it could work really well if you're using a piece of land that has already been gardened. But I was using lawn that had previously been cattle pasture - on clay. So it was totally compacted clay pan and my poor wee plants just couldn't send their wee roots in deeply enough - they just laid them down on top of the ground and under the mulch. So I ended up with mighty green bean plants 6 inches tall and broccoli that fell over in the wind.

This time I am dig, dig, digging. I'm hoping that after two or three seasons of double-digging etc that I'll be able to ease back to a no-dig version. Perhaps only digging every 3 or 4 years as the soil gets compacted. We shall see.

This wee patch you can see here is our main veggie spot. With two pre-schoolers I am aware of biting off more than I can chew as far as gardening work goes. I have started small. In this patch Miss 3 and I planted a row of sunflower seeds along the back. Then I cheated and bought seedlings from the garden centre for pretty much everything else: cauliflower; pak choi; silverbeet (swiss chard for you north americans); perpetual spinach; mesclun mix lettuce; calendula; parsley. We did plant seeds of beetroot, carrot and radish in this patch too.

I have another patch about the same size, maybe a little smaller, down by our compost heap which is all planted out in sweetcorn.

I'm still working out what will grow in this climate. Not quite a year ago we were living in the North Island of New Zealand (closer to the equator), and now we live in the South Island (closer to the south pole). Things which we could just plunk in the ground any old time at our old house will only grow in summer here, and things that we used to be able to grow outside on a sunny wall (like tomatoes) greatly prefer a glasshouse this far south.

All a big adventure :-)

Miss 3's favourite bit so far was making our scare-crow - isn't she pretty? Dressed in old cloth nappies which are no longer absorbent enough...

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