Spring is almost here

I haven’t posted here over winter as it has just rained and rained for the last 3 months. Our backyard is an absolute bog so I haven’t been spending a lot of time out there. However, in the last couple of weeks I planted some vegetables and finally cleared out the oxalis growing in the garden. That took WEEKS of digging out soil and then replacing a whole lot of soil with vegetable mix. Here is the before photo:

Oxalis-Antipodean-garden

After I cleared this and dug through new vegetable mix and compost  I planted carrots, spinach, kale and lettuce. Looked so much better after the clear out:

Last year when my dad helped with out huge clean up he completely hacked back the Rhododendron – which was a shame because it’s one of my favourites. However, apparently they like a good pruning so will pay off. There are 2 flowers appearing, which I discovered today.

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My camellia tree is still blooming, and is looking absolutely amazing. It’s been blooming for ages and doesn’t seem like it’s going to slow down anytime soon.

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Next on the list will be to start sweeping the paths once it dries up a bit. If I keep walking on the lawn there will be no grass left, only mud! I also got sent some seed potatoes and potato food by Tui Garden Products so I will be planting those this weekend to insure I get a nice new potato crop for christmas potato salad!

I update my Instagram daily so if you want to see more regular updates – follow me @antipodeangarden

 

The clean up starts

Over the last week I have been looking at the state of the garden and starting to plan the big clean up. There are weed filled potted succulents, weed filled garden beds and hundreds of big, orange liquid amber tree leaves. This afternoon I managed to get outside during my son’s nap and weed the pots by the front door, and sweep the leaves. I also disposed of our rotting door mat and replaced it with a sturdier rubber one. Not very pretty but will do for the short term.

Container-Gardening-NZ

I also hacked away at some very overgrown tropical impatiens growing out of the broken retaining wall.

Drainage is an issue here, and a drain layer will be coming over the next couple of weeks or so to assess exactly what we need to do to fix it so we can renovate the downstairs area of our house. Drainage will also be an issue for my cut flower garden, so at the end of July I am going to start the process of getting the clay into a better state. Will need to do some research on clay soil.

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I also stumbled across this pretty yellow flower. It’s probably a weed, but still, very pretty 🙂

 

 

 

Autumn Recap

Autumn is my favourite season as after being so hot and humid for so long, it’s a relief to have some cooler weather. It’s been a pretty rainy autumn for us this year, and some freak heavy rain has caused more than a few issues.

Spinach-Lettuce-seedlings-antipodean-garden

Gardening I got done this season:

  • Harvested over 100 Feijoas from our tree.
  • Planted some pittosporums along the back fence.
  • Fed and mulched the lemon tree.
  • Planted a herb garden.
  • Planted Spinach and Lettuce seedlings.
  • Tidied up the garden shelves in the garage.

I know it doesn’t look like much but it has been the most I have done since before I had my now 20 month old son. I’m feeling pretty good about it and am about to plan out what I’m going to do in spring.

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The garage now has a tidy garden shelf.

Things I didn’t do but wanted to:

  • Planted Rannunculus bulbs – Not sure if too late now, still not sure where I can plant these as need to get the soil sorted.
  • Weeded more.
  • Get rid of the broken plant pot graveyard out the back.
  • Plant Clivias in the border garden where I removed those ferns.

I have been very inspired by reading Floret Farm’s Cut Flower Garden by Erin Benzakein. Erin has been a flower farmer for 10 years and has written this amazing book all about how to grow, harvest and arrange seasonal flowers. I love it so much! I’m going to have a good look around outside and decide where I am going to grow some flowers this year. I’d really like to plant 3 kinds of flowers and some misc foliage plants so I can do a pop up flower stall in summer maybe.

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The succulents on my deck are still in pretty good shape (mostly).

Winter will be a lot of cleaning up, and planning and getting soil and compost ready for flowers and vegetables later in the year.

 

 

 

 

My sad lemon tree

The Lemon tree at the front of our house was planted a few years before we moved in I think. It has mostly been awesome, however lately it’s been looking a bit sad.

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The soil here is clay, which means there isn’t much nutrition in the ground for the tree, plus the tree has to compete with the very aggressive lawn. Our lawn is mostly made up of Kikuyu which I try to cull as best as I can.

Lemon-Verrucosis-nz

My Lemon tree also has developed what I think is Lemon Verrucosis , so is not a happy tree at all. There’s nothing I can do about that until after it has finished fruiting unfortunately. Then it will be a case of removing affected fruit, twigs and leaves and using a copper spray of some sort.

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Lemon-tree-mulched

To make the lemon tree a bit happier, I dug up all the grass around it, and covered it with very well rotted compost. I then mixed up some epsom salts and watered to the drip line. Today will be giving it a good feed. The fruit will be edible, but I won’t be able to zest the lemons.

The other trees in the garden need a bit of TLC too so will hopefully get to tend to them today too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Feijoas

This coming Monday will mark 5 years of living in our own home. It’s gone by so quickly! Over the past 5 years, a tree slowly grew out of the agapanthus garden at the front. At first I hardly noticed it, but then last year when we did the big clean up we realised it was a Feijoa tree. We even found 5 or so Feijoas on the ground.

Feijoa-tree-nz

Over the spring and summer, the tree was absolutely covered in flowers, and as a result, we ended up with heaps and heaps of feijoas! I have been picking them up by the dozen since early April, resulting in many happy friends, family, neighbours and workmates.

Feijoa-Harvest-nz

Fejoas are everywhere in the North Island, and many people have their own trees and an abundance of fruit during Autumn/Early winter. I’ve never been a fan of them really, as I can only liken the texture of them to gritty snot haha… But do love the smell of them, and a slice of warm Feijoa and Banana cake with my cup of coffee.

My mother in law has a couple of large trees at her place in Whangarei in Northland, but many of them have been infested by Guava Moth. This is currently a big problem here. I was very lucky that we didn’t have this issue.

As our tree is next to our bedroom window, we’re going to have to try and stop it from getting too big, so I will have to do some research about how to do this…

If you are interested in growing Feijoas but need some info, this Tui Garden Guide is a good place to start.

Here are some other links:

Salad Greens & Herbs

There has been a large amount of rain lately so many green vegetable crops have been ruined, resulting in a shortage / price hike of buying them at the supermarket. We eat a lot of spinach and lettuce so I thought I would try my hand at growing our own.

I ripped out the dead tomato plant and gave the soil a dig over with some compost. As this planter box is half under the eaves of the house, I need to make sure I remember to water it frequently.

I bought Some Yates Spinach –  Winter queen variety and Urban Gourmet Salad Greens. For the spinach, I’ll be planting them direct in the garden. I’ll need to feed them plant food every 2 weeks. I think I’m actually going to start putting these kind of tasks into my ical… otherwise is it guaranteed I won’t remember to do it.

Planting-seeds-salad-greens

The Salad greens are mixtures of lettuce seeds in a pellet. These will grow super fast so if I am organised, we will have a continual supply of lettuces and spinach for the winter.

Herb-garden-nz

The other half of the planter is now home to my herb garden. I have Basil (which has been in there for a couple of months), Coriander, Thyme, Rosemary and Italian Parsley. I have sage growing in a pot on the stairs. These were all looking very sad in their pots, but are already seeming much happier.

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I’m going to start some of the pellets in these little pots just til they are big enough to plant in the garden. Then when they go into the garden, I will grow some more seedlings on the windowsill.

 

 

Cherry Tomato Mania

When I last posted in November, I had started the process of growing vegetables from seed. Sadly, most of the crops didn’t do very well, but the cherry tomatoes were great! I ended up with 7 plants initially, so I decided to plant 2 of them and give the others away.

I prepared the soil well and looked after the plants well at first, however, life just took over and I kind of just let them grow wild.

Cherry-Tomatoes-antipodean-garden

As you can see the plants grew insanely tall, which meant I unfortunately had to restake them. We also had a couple of severe summer storms that resulted in the larger of the two plants being completely blown over. I managed to save it though and re staking didn’t seem to worry the plants one bit.

Cherry-Tomatoes-antipodean-garden-02

After the storms, the rain kept coming. As a result, my tomatoes, not being used to having so much water, swelled up and split. I still ended up eating them but they had to be used reasonably quickly.

Once the rain cleared up, I noticed grey/black coloured splotches creeping up the limbs of the plant. Blight. I managed to harvest about 50 or so cherry tomatoes before the blight took over, so was quite proud of my little harvest in the end.

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not all of them, but a few of the harvested tomatoes.

All in all, it was a good experience, however there was a lot I should have done but didn’t due to inexperience.

Mistakes I made:

  • I forgot to put snail pellets in the garden, so my marigolds were gone in 2 days.
  • I wasn’t as vigilant as I could have been with plucking the arterial leaves which would have meant my plants would have grown in a more productive way.
  • I was pretty forgetful when it came to feeding and watering them, and probably didn’t do this enough.

If you’re thinking of growing tomatoes of any kind in the future here are some great resources:

  • Tui Garden’s How to Guide for growing tomatoes has all the basics, plus product recommendations to help ensure a successful harvest.
  • 6 Easy-to-grow cherry tomato varieties
  • Annabelle Langbein’s tomato growing tips and some a useful chart for how to choose what varieties to grow based on the various ways we eat them.
  • Yates guide to solving tomato problems, however I don’t necessarily agree with the last part!
  • A How to guide for growing organic tomatoes.

 

Vegetable Garden

Since labour weekend I have been getting my raised garden bed ready for use again. The summer before last, I grew strawberries there, but what I didn’t know was that underneath the garden was a massive ants nest. My strawberries started ripening so I put the bird nets over the garden.  One day I lifted the net to have a good look, and ants had eaten most of the berries!

I managed to get rid of the ants nest, but as pregnancy and then looking after a baby took over my life, a pile of weeds took over the garden bed.

I’ve had a compost bin in the garden for a few years but hadn’t looked in it for about 2 years at all. I opened the lid to find a full bin of amazing compost. It was absolutely perfect.

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Making compost is a worthwhile process. It may take a while but it’s a lot cheaper than buying it.

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I lugged compost in my grandfather’s old wheelbarrow.

 

Once I had mixed the soil and compost together, I figured out what I was going to plant. I had quite a bit to choose from so in the end I decided on Cherry tomatoes, marigolds, lettuce, spinach, basil and rocket.

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Planting Cherry Tomatoes, Marigolds, Spinach, Lettuce, Basil Rocket

I grew cherry tomatoes in pots a few summers ago, so I still had some wire frames in the garage. As the plants get taller, I will use ties to make sure the tomato plant grows straight up and has good support.

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Vegetable garden – Tomatoes, marigolds, spinach, lettuce, basil and rocket.

Now I just need to look after it and keep it watered and it should take off in no time. Next on the list is planting the herb garden and finding somewhere to plant my zucchini plant as they get quite big. I also have some chilli and capsicum seeds germinating at the moment, so will have to find some nice bright pots to plant them on the deck.

Wasp Nest Collection

Where we live, we get a lot of wasps in the warmer months. Around October I start seeing the paper wasps flying around in search of a nice place to build their nests. So far this Spring I have killed 4 wasps making nests on our deck and under the eaves of the roof.

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Paper Wasp Nests

An artist friend of mine collects things like this so I often save them up and send them to her  to add to her collection.

Tonight there was also a German wasp in our bathroom! Usually I don’t see those until later on when it gets warmer but because of the mild winter we had last year, I have a feeling that we will be seeing more of them.

Growing Plants From Seed

A couple of months ago, the supermarket that I shop at weekly started a promotion called Little Garden where they gave away vegetable seedling kits for every $40 you spent on groceries. As I do my weekly family shop there, I accumulated a few over a few weeks.

Last month, I finally decided to plant them. I have never grown anything from seed before so I thought I should. Now I have a whole lot of seedlings sprouting!

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Little Garden Seedlings sprouting on the deck

The first ones I have repotted are Cherry Tomatoes. I asked my dad for some tips on how to repot them. He told me to water the pot then to drop it on the ground to loosen the roots. Then once the roots are loosened, slowly ease the plants out of the soil, handling them by the stems and not the leaves. Once they are in the pots, water them and add some wet paper towels as mulch so they don’t dry out. I managed to plant 7 of them so when they get a bit bigger I will be planting some of them in the garden.

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Cherry Tomato Seedlings

The next ones to be planted in the garden will be the spinach, lettuce and rocket, followed by all the herbs. I have also planted some capsicum seeds and zucchini seeds too so will see how they go. Apparently zucchini plants are pretty massive so will have to find somewhere to plant them.