Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Garden Share Collective - July

 The garden Share Collective is the brain child of Lizzie from Strayed from the Table.
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
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.


  1. Thank you for the birds eye view and tour of your slice of paradise!

  2. Anonymous3:57 pm

    HI Laura,
    I am a fellow Scot from Stonehaven, now living on 84 acres in SW of Australia.
    Thanks for the detailed look at your garden you have inspired me. We have been here 4 years, and only 2 years in the house, so this is going to be the year of the garden. I have just ordered the same 8 x 12 greenhouse and am looking forward to winter herbs and tomatoes :-)

    1. Hi Cath, I know Stonehaven well - I'm from Aberdeen.
      I bet you will love your Greenhouse!

  3. Anonymous9:38 am

    Hi Laura
    What do you feed your asparagus and what is used to cover the plants? [This is my first year of growing. Just yesterday I was looking at all the dead ferns and wondering what the next step would be - cut off?] I have used seaweed between the rows and this has kept all the weeds away over summer.


    1. Hi Caroline, last year I went round the paddocks and collected a couple of wheelbarrows of donkey poo, cow poo and alpaca poo and mixed it all up. Then I spread it - neat - over the asparagus bed just after I cut the ferns down. I then covered it in hay! Last year we got hay cut ( at vast expense!) and it was a total waste of time, as it was baled slightly damp ( weather window wasn't as good as we thought it would be!) and a lot of it went blerk! So I use the rubbish bales to mulch the veggie garden with. So that's all I did - covered it in poo then covered all that in a thick layer of hay. now, I have no idea if this was the right thing to do, but I had the best crop of asparagus I'd ever had! So, this year I did the same, but instead of collecting up actual poo, I was lucky enough to get some of the Amazing horse poo based compost I mentioned in the post. I have high hopes for this spring!!! Good luck xxx

    2. p.s. I cut the ferns down when they've gone brown.

  4. What a wonderful garden. Being Scottish I am not surprised that you grow spuds all year round, I lived there for two years and boy did I eat some potatoes. I am also starting to get some beds ready for August planting.

    1. och aye! Spuds all year round for sure! Can't beat mashed potatoes - perhaps my favourite ting in the world, closely followed by baked and roast!
      Having looked at some of the other posts I do feel very lazy about not growing more over winter!

  5. Hi Laura, I'm visiting from the collective :) I'm very interested in your greenhouse, excellent idea for growing tomatoes through winter. I need a dedicated potato garden too! Cheers, Liz

    1. hiya Liz!
      My greenhouse is an NZ made one - I got it from here
      and it is AMAZING!
      this is where we built it
      and if you do a search for 'greenhouse' here, a good few posts come up - all with me raving about how brilliant it is!
      Best piece of advice I could give to anyone looking to buy one - get a bigger one that you think you want! Get as big as you can afford!!

  6. Anonymous4:36 pm

    Hey Laura ... great blog. Love your pics .. I'm also part of the collective and living in NZ. Aerial snap is fabulous ... I wish! Julie

    1. Hi Julie, it's a fab idea isn't it!! I follow you now on that (new to me!) bloglovin :) my hubby took that fly over pic :) years ago he got his pilots license and a friend of his has a wee plane so they went up and he took loads of photos. Really need to chat him up to see if he'll go up again as these are a couple of years old!! But his timing was pretty good cos the garden was looking more under control than it sometimes is!! :) I love your blog too- I'm so glad we got involved in this.

  7. Laura, your garden looks wonderful and I'm so jealous of your citrus and avocado orchards! This Garden Collective promised to be good fun and I'm hoping to learn lots (already learnt that I should let my ducks into my veg garden, though I'm not sure I can let the ducks in without the chickens).
    Thanks for the tour.

    1. Aw thanks Anne, and yes! let your ducks into the veggie garden if you can - but if there are new plants they will stamp on them!!

  8. I'm so glad I came upon your blog. I love your farm! It is beautiful! I am from Alabama, yes the deep South in the USA. It is so very hot here now. I have chickens also but no ducks. Thank you for sharing your beautiful farm.

    1. Thank you Lisa, we do love it here :) xx

  9. Another with avocado and lemon envy - and as for potatoes, ours is a tale of woe...

    When I was a kid, the only issue we had with horse poo v cow poo was that often undigested grain got through and we got a few interesting wheat and milo patches - going through the compost process first would circumvent that, I would expect.

    Lovely garden - and your joy shines through your words.

    1. I know what you mean about the undigested grain, but last year this didnt happen, I think I may have been really lucky though!!xxx

  10. You rock, Laura. Even though I've been reading for while I thoroughly enjoyed this tour.

    1. Beth, I think you might be one of my longest time readers! so THANK YOU!! xxx

  11. hello across the waters from dig in, also in the garden share collective. lizzie has done a fantastic job, hasn't she, rounding us all up - how else would i have found you? i love NZ blogs - i think we share a similar viewpoint about gardening and food that is reassuring, but also different enough to learn things. for example, i had never heard of alderman peas. i must look out for them (and ask my dad). you have a gorgeous property that i'm just a teeny bit envious of :-)

    1. Hi!! I know, didn't she do a brilliant job of finding us all and getting us together. I think it's a really fab idea. I had a rummage around you this morning and I think we're probably very alike :)
      that was some frost you had!
      oh and the Alderman peas - I was told about them by this old kiwi man ( gardening fonts of information!) he said they were the best ever and he'd been growing them for years. And he's right!! It's all I'll grow now too :)

  12. What a beautiful garden. Such gorgeous raised beds (so close to your home)and a HUGE greenhouse. your flowers are gorgeous too, such lovely camellias. Your tomatoes and avocadoes are doing well. Our tamarillo is fruiting for the first time, I though you primarily used them to make savoury jam. Feel free to share recipes for these cute, red delights. I have enjoyed investigating your blog, you are lucky to have such space and boundless opportunities. Kind regards Merryn@merrynsmenu

    1. Thank you, Merryn. It's a real labour of love :) There are some recipes here for Lloyd's chilli saices, but I'm not sure if I've posted one with tamarillos in it!

  13. Anonymous9:40 am

    What beautiful gardens you have.....your veggies and flowers are beautiful. Thank you for sharing with the Clever Chicks Blog Hop this week; I hope you’ll join us again!

    Kathy Shea Mormino

    The Chicken Chick

  14. Thanks for the garden tour.

  15. What a great garden, and I am pretty envious of your advocados, lemons, citrus and tree tomatoes, none of which will grow down here in Canterbury. I nurture and coddle our lemons to try and get lemons off them, and have to keep them in pots to bring under the veranda when there is a frost coming....*sigh* cos I love lemon cake, and have to buy lemons from the supermarket


I love it when you leave me comments, it lets me know there are folk out there reading my ramblings! Thank you, I appreciate them loads and loads
Laura x