Tag Archives: last quarter

Last workshops of the year

For the next five Wednesdays, I’ll be running the Grow More Veges workshops. This week we did Perfect Compost, next week we’ll explore Double Digging and soil health in general, then you can learn about how to Garden in Time & Space – how to arrange your beds and your plantings to maximise the use of a small urban garden. Finally, we’ll go through the nitty gritty of how to Sow Seeds (and which to choose) so they produce healthy seedlings, looking at their families, history and needs ; and how to Plant Plants so the tender youngsters survive and thrive. Finally, we’ll cover Maintenance, to make sure you have what you need to keep all your edibles happy and productive all through the year.

You can take the workshops independently, or all in a row as they do partly build on each other. My aim with this workshop series is to provide the full range of basic knowledge and hands-on skills you need to be able to grow a decent amount of your own fresh veges in Wellington. Advice and ideas are tested and proven to work with the climate we have here and with the size and styles of gardens that are common here – steep slopes, awkward shade, natives, clay or sand subsoil etc. There are still spots open, so don’t hesitate to sign up if you’re tempted! The groups are small and there’s plenty of opportunities for questions and discussion.

If you’ve seen me lately, you know I’ve got a bulging bump! By the end of November, I’ll go on maternity leave. I’m not setting a specific date for being back in action, but I do have the intention of running this workshop series again in April… if I feel up for it, if it’s still a priority for me – chances are my priorities change with this major new person in my life. So if you’re keen on learning, now is the time!

This week in your Edible Oasis

  • If you have any brassicaceae growing in your garden (cabbage, kale, cavolo nero, broccoli, cauli…), get Bt-spray to stop the ravages of the white butterfly caterpillars (see photo above) which are becoming more and more present. Bt comes as a powder, marketed by KiwiCare brand as “Caterpillar Control”, that you dilute in water and spray onto all surfaces of the plant. These “Bacillum thuringiensis” will infect the caterpillars and cause them to die, hopefully before they have devoured your plants!
  • If you managed to get hold of some comfrey root last week, you can plant it now. Each plant takes up a good 60-80cm round, so plant pieces of root at that distance and mulch between.
  • We have this strong southerly today and tomorrow, but then it will get more stable from Sunday on. Make sure your cloches and other light structures (pea teepees etc) are anchored well enough to not blow away tonight!
  • Keep an eye on rainfall – anything less than 5mm in a 24h period is probably only wetting the top few centimeters, so check soil moisture a spade depth down too. It’s good to get the habit now, so you know what moist vs. too dry soil looks like in summer. For example, check Monday night when we’ve had 3-4 days of no rain and lots of wind, and then again Wednesday night after the rain.
  • If your site is getting dry (at a spade depth) start watering. And water direct sown seeds daily until they develop true leaves.
  • Apply mulch anywhere you haven’t yet (apart from on your direct sown seeds). Seaweed is really good for fruit trees and bushes this time of year, check the south coast for washed up stuff after the southerly swell, making sure you avoid the Marine Reserves!
  • If your berry bushes are starting to form fruit, put netting up this week – by next week the berries may already start to take on some colour and the birds will quickly find them!
  • If you have germinated seeds which have opened their cotyledons, transplant them into deeper trays or pots at 2-5cm spacing depending on varieties (check seed packet or Koanga Garden Guide for more info).

Prepp for next week

  • Pamper your seedlings so you can plant them out in the first half of November. Liquid fertilisers and slow hardening off is the recipie for success.
  • Keep on top of weeds by regular hoeing. Much easier than pulling bigger weeds by hand, and you’ll exhaust the weed seed bank in the top few cm by hoeing regularly, with long term benefits.

Happy gardening, and hope to see you at the workshops!

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Coming together – Last quarter moon

Last week, wow what a flurry. Managed to support volunteers in double digging almost 30 square meters of bone-hard clay soil at the site – it’s not quite the right season for digging clay so that wasn’t easy at all. Many thanks & kudos to the volunteers! It is all coming together.

Also got some funding applications in, and would like to let you know that it’d be wonderful to find someone who wants to be our funding manager. Once you get the hang of it, it’s not that hard, but I really need to put my time towards the design and hands-on work on the site – sitting in front of the computer stresses me a bit! So if you feel that could be you, or someone you know, get in touch.

Talking about design work, I had three of the lovely Orientation Aotearoa crew here on Thursday morning to do just that. We came out with some fresh ideas, and moved some of the proposed structures around, so there is now a better design for the site. Really exciting to see how it is all coming together now as people join the organisation and we start digging the ground!

5 Hospital rd design

The full moon brough a lot of expansion and energy, but this week, the moon is shrinking and entering its last quarter on Wednesday. I’ll transplant some self sown calendula and borage, and dig up some comfrey roots to plant at the big oasis at Hospital rd once I’ve sprouted it in a tray in the hothouse. All the energies are kind of stalling now, and I’ll use this time to weed, prepare compost, spread mulch and prepare the beds so I can direct sow fast germinating seeds two days before new moon, that’s Tuesday 10th. This is the time when they germinate the best, according to Ecology Action who has done a lot of research on this. In my garden and for workerBe oasis, I’m sowing all beans, beetroot, carrot, chard (both silverbeet and rainbow), lettuce/mesclun, radish, regular spinach. All this goes straigh into the soil, well prepared, and watered daily until they’ve got their true leaves.

Continually prick seedlings out when they show their first true leaves all through this period. You can also transplant the ones that are big enough, but pay attention to the weather weather. It was so warm and nice this weekend that it’s easy to think summer is already here, but it’s another month of spring left. There’s a big cold storm dumping some rain on us this week, probably between Tuesday and Wednesday, which means you will have to protect and tie up your tomatoes, if they’re already in the ground, stake and tie beans and peas, and shelter zuccinis and other tender young seedlings.

Otherwise, keep an eye out for rust and curly leaf and other fungal diseases and control them before they get out of hand. Aphids are still on the prowl in my garden on all the potted plants – my rose is looking terribly sad! Hopefully the ladybugs will hatch soon and have a feast. To keep this from reoccurring, I’ll make sure to repot everything in winter and liquid feed well as spring comes!

Reminding you of the Volunteer Introduction on Wednesday 4th, 5.30 at workerBe oasis Hospital rd. All prospective volunteers welcome! No need to register for this one, just show up on time.

Workshops are starting next week with Sow Seeds, at my own edible oasis in Newtown, Thursday 12th, 6.30-8pm. Register by email to rego@edibleoasis.net, state your name, phone number, how you choose to pay (direct transfer preferred, otherwise cash on the day) and how much: $20, or half price for workerBe oasis members, or time credits for two lucky timebank members.

Hope to see you down at the land some day soon!

A Composting Story

Two weeks since my last post – time flies! I’ve been busy clearing up the garden and preparing my two new projects: an Urban Food Forest workshop (9th May) and (if council allows us) an urban farm. Plus, of course, my day job at Commonsense Organics and other little occupations. I guess your days are just as full and that you would like to get away with the least possible work in the garden – and be able to enjoy and relax while doing it.

For me, gardening is part of my mindfulness practice. As I know what needs to be done each week, I don’t need to plan everything in detail. Just put on my boots and go out there, when the weather allows, and start doing it, calmly, methodically. I enjoy the fragrances of the garden, right now it’s grass, earth, the humid and rich smell of decaying plant matter. The clear autumn air and the emptiness once the compost was made was absolutely heavenly. All seasons are beautiful and enjoyable in my edible oasis.

Tuesday I made my big winter compost heap. First I got out the weedeater and mowed the little bit of lawn we have, raking it into a pile on the path next to it. Then, I had a wander around pruning everything that needed pruning (mainly our ginormous hydrangea) and putting it in a pile next to my composting area. Next, I went and cut off all the spent plants at ground level: runner beans, last corn, some flowers, parsley in seed. And finally I weeded the wildest-looking areas to complete the piture and get some extra “greens” for the pile.

Ideally I’d have a mulcher (and I know I can borrow one from neighbours) but as this was done pretty much on a whim, I didn’t. I broke or cut all the woody bits in pieces about 10-20cm long – ideally they would be smaller but I didn’t want to spend the whole day and they will break down in the end I’m sure. I layered the woody bits, the lawnclippings, the weeds and the dead plants in even layers in a square about 1m x 1m. Using the straighter branches to form the sides helps keep it square. But you can do it round just as well!

In between layers, I also added comfrey leaves, which grow just next to the composting area. And also some hay and rabbit poo that I get from a neighbour who raises rabbits for the SPCA. Sometimes, I added a bit of soil from the bottom of the last compost pile or from the garden beds.

In the end, the pile was about 1,2m high and I was very satisfied. Had a look at the time and the whole thing had only taken about 90 minutes. Ah, half an hour before I need to go to work… let’s relax… I made a cup of tea, sat on the steps overlooking my suddenly tidy garden and… oh noooooo! I see my beautiful compost pile leaning, leaning more and… pouf! The top half falls off and lies in a mess on the ground!

Well well, the tea can wait. It only took about 10 min to get it all up again. And I’ll remember next time to not put bent hydrangea branches in – they act as spings!

To do this weekend (last quarter moon):

  • Double dig or broadfork all remaining beds for winter crops or compost crops
  • Feed brassica – manure or lots of compost
  • Pick & store kumara, pumpkin, dry beans, apples and pears (if you grow them – I don’t!).
  • Transplant the last winter seedlings
  • Prepare strawberry bed
  • Feed everything, including trees and bushes with calcium (gardeners lime or nano-cal), Nature’s Garden or RokSolid fertiliser, and water in with seaweed liquid/wormwee.
  • Mulch everything well – 20cm of fluffy material with a good carbon-nitrogen balance
  • Tie up canefruit (raspberries, loganberries, blackberries, boysenberries)
  • Trim blueberries & chilean guavas/cranberries if you grow them
  • Collect leaves to make leaf mould
  • Collect pine needles to much the future strawberry bed with

To do from monday 20th:

  • Prep onion/garlic beds – need to be freedraining so I double dig mine
  • Start transplanting strawberries
  • If any more beds need preparation for spring, do it now. Last lupin/oat sowing chance.
  • Sow mesclun under cloches or in the hothouse
  • Sow calendulas, larkspur, love in a mist, hollyhock, violas, pansies, heartsease, poppies and snap dragons for spring flowers
  • Sow broad beans in trays & transplant when first leaves appear