As this is my first post I thought I should introduce myself for any folk checking in for the first time.
(oldies can skip all this bumf!)
I'm Laura, originally from Scotland but emigrated to the far North of New Zealand around 8 years ago. It's a sub-tropical climate.
Lovely hubby and I bought a small farm with a huge garden. I'd never had a garden before, in fact I'd go so far as to say, I had no interest in gardening and farming and knew absolutely nothing at all about either of them. Now, I can't imagine life without them in some form or another.
So, if you want to know more here's a couple of links that'll tell you all about the garden which is about 6 acres and all about the farm - around 16 acres. The farm has changed a bit since I originally wrote that, and we no longer keep steers. But we have expanded our alpaca numbers somewhat drastically!
This aerial photograph shows a little bit of the garden. Green roof - house in middle. To right is veggie garden (you can clearly see the raised beds.) Just down from veggie garden is the avocado orchard - they were very small here. In front of that is the potato bed - you can see the lines of potatoes. The citrus orchard is directly behind the house, and hidden behind the bare winter branches of the big trees is the apple and stone fruit orchard. White roof is the woolshed.
Anyway, that's probably enough to be going on with, so now I'll tell you all about what's happening in the garden this month, and I apologise for the length of this!
Oh also, the veggie garden is totally organic...
The actual veggie garden is about 10m x 10m. I also have a large potato bed that's about 15m x 2m
I'm not a big winter veggie growing person! So in fact the veggie garden is mostly sleeping just now.
In the last week I've composted most of the beds and put them to sleep under some hay. I make my own compost in the usual garden compost bins, but I am also lucky enough that a friend keeps 4 horses here and he collects all the horse poo and makes it into the most amazing compost. He's very generous with this and I get to use it on my veggie beds.
The asparagus bed had all the ferns cut down last week and is now well fed and snuggled up until spring.
...and here's some of that magnificent compost. It's amazing stuff and has about a gazillion worms in it.
It's not all waste land in there, though, as there are potatoes coming up. This is a Maori potato called PeruPeru. They're smallish knobbly potatoes with the most amazing creamy texture and out of this world taste. We grow a lot of these. And our other favourite is the good old Agria. I can grow potatoes all year round and do.
Another bit of green in the veggie garden are a couple of globe artichokes. I grew these from seed in the summer so am not expecting much until perhaps this coming summer, but I'll let you know how they get on.
There is something I grow every winter and it's peapods. I adore these and find that to grow them in the summer is difficult as it's just too hot up here, so over winter, spring and autumn is best. I always plant Alderman peas. They grow really tall - sometimes over 2m and the peas are huge and juicy. Almost none ever make it into the house!
Oh and I have a very good piece of advice for pest control....ducks! I have 2 male ducks who have the free range of the place ( they don't get into the veggie garden when the plants are small though cos they have big slappy feet) they eat everything, snails, slugs, crickets they are amazing. And they're not like chickens (which I also have and ADORE) who will scratch around and dig everything up - nope, they just sort of nuzzle around the place.
The greenhouse is 8ftx10ft and already I'm wishing I got a bigger one.
Even though there's not much actually happening in the veggie garden, there is a lot going on in the greenhouse. This is my first year of having a greenhouse so it's all rather experimental right now. We had tomatoes until last week, and I planted more from seed about 4 weeks ago. I did a bit of research to see which varieties may grow over winter and came up with Oregon Spring and Sub Arctic Plenty. I've been amazed with the speed they've grown and they already have flowers on them. I've no idea if there will be enough day light or heat or whatever else they need to produce fruit in the darker colder months, but we shall see!! I have high hopes.
You can also see some herbs - I just planted basil and coriander as these are our favourites and over winter we usually have to buy them.
The chillies I plant for Lloyd are still thriving and soon I think I'll trim them down a fair bit, so they can start fresh in spring again.
This is one of the Sub Arctic Plenty tomatoes, already with a wee flower. Both the SAP and the OS are a bushy type of tomato plant which should grow to around 1m. This is a different thing for me as I usually grow heirloom tomatoes where I prick out the laterals and they just keep growing and growing. I have to sort of bend them over and stake them. This year I even had to prick out the tops of the ones in the greenhouse to stop them growing as they were like triffids.
And this is actually a lateral from the Moneymaker that I took out last week. I panted it in a pot, just to see how it would do. Rather well, it would seem :)
Elsewhere round the garden things are looking good. We have a citrus orchard, and an apple orchard, which also has plums, a peach and a tamarillo.
It's citrus time of year right now and I've been making a lot of lemon cakes - we love us a lemon cake.
This is the tamarillo - also known as a tree tomato. I'm not a huge fan of them, but Lloyd adds them to some of the chilli sauces he makes.
About 3 years ago we planted some avocado trees. They were tiny when they went in, but are now getting pretty huge. Last year we had one avocado on one tree and that was it. This year that same tree has about 12 and the other 2 have 1 or 2 each. So they're going to plan. Avocados are something else I love!
I planted these in the chicken run before I read somewhere that avocados are poisonous to chickens. However either my chickens are immune or they are 'rock hard' but they seem totally unbothered by them. And the bonus of having the trees there is that they get a huge amount of natural fertilizer from the chooks!
As for the rest of the garden - the non productive, pretty part (!) the camellias are in full bloom just now
and there are even some signs of spring around the place.
I spent last week doing a lot of winter pruning of some of the trees in the big garden area - but not this one! This is our mighty oak, and was pretty much our reason for buying the farm.
For the next month I'll be mostly trying to keep on top of the mowing and nurturing the tomatoes in the greenhouse and there will be the usual weeding maintenance to be done in the veggie garden. We're also hoping to get part of the huge garden fenced off so that we have a larger area for the alpacas. The fencer is booked, just keeping our fingers crossed he shows up.
Lloyd and I are heading over to the Uk for three weeks - in three weeks - so I like to really get on top of things before we go. When we get back at the very beginning of August it'll be all go - planting all my veggie seeds and looking after them and getting the veggie garden ready.
I haven't really talked about the farm and there's probably loads I've missed out or forgot to mention in regards to the garden, but hopefully this has given you an idea of what we do with the place and what we grow. There's not much I enjoy more than going out into the garden and coming in with enough food to make dinner.