New additions

Willow had a pretty hard time with her babies. After going through the first stage of labour through the night she finally started having some action at 8.30 in the morning. I had been on the internet from 5am making sure everything was normal. I discovered a new blog after I'd assured myself everything was O.K.http://muppinstuff.typepad.com/my_weblog/ clicking here shold get you to it, there are some lovely garden photos you'll have to look for "rainy day gardening" as I havn't got the hang of linking to the right page. I was having a walk at the school when she popped out the first puppy, wishing I was still a smoker and enjoying a ciggerette to calm my nerves. I definatley wasn't a calm support person. She popped out 3 puppies o.k but was exhausted and rested for an hour then she got into trouble the vet was called (public holiday just my luck) and we raced her to town yelping. I think two were trying to come at once because she got one out at the vet then another one came 5 mins later. I nearly vomited and had to leave the scene. The X-ray revealed only one more to come and the cleaver wee girl did it on her own, despite it going blue all six of them survive at this stage. Whew. No more puppies my nerves can't handle it. What will I be like when my daughter has a baby? We're besotted with the babies and nothing much is getting done around here except baby gazing.


Garage sale day

Coming from a thrifty family I love a bargin. Saturday is garage sale day, I write a list and off I go early Sat morning, some weeks are very exciting but most are just average or humerous like today. There are garage sale regulars: the dealers, the fat sisters, the creepy couple and the market guy I wonder how they refer to me? I often drag the kids around and only garage sale when I have some change. About 10 cars drove up and down Kina beach road today looking for the deceased estate sale, when they finally put the signs out it was a real anti climax, a lounge suite priced at $300 and a dinner set At $200 not to metion a few dull books and glassware. It makes me crack up watching the regulars race each other to a sale, I bet the cops could make their quota if they sat on the garage sale route each saturday. We whizzed back to Mot where I got Willow The fat Jack Russel, a dog bed for $3 and an informative herb book for $3 not that I need any more herb books really I'm just a bit addicted. When the rain stopped I planted some new seeds from http://www.egmontseeds.co.nz mostly brassicas like savoy cabbage and cauli but I'm testing my seed raising ability with delphiniums and primulas too. I put vermiculite on top of the seeds it's probably not organic but a friend gave me some to try and it's very good at keeping things moist.
As you can see Willow hasn't had her babies yet but she's due next Saturday so I think it'll be a quiet weekend at home. A friend of mine is due too bets are on that Willow will be first.



The Yellow Hammers and Finches are visiting the garden again, I hope they're getting a few bugs and not just eating all the sunflower seeds. They are very efficient at getting the seeds out of the shells and leave a big pile of shell under the plant and sometimes on top of the flower too, they're very bold too and don't mind us getting up quite close to watch them. The Tui in the flax are very suspicious by contrast and you have to sneak up to see them. Fortunatly it's far too hot for our lazy cats to do any hunting so the birds are quite safe.
Other visitors this week were friends who run a catering company they were having trouble sourcing fresh currants in town, I was delighted to pick for them the last of my black currants and some purple basil to compliment them. It's very flattering to have a chef ask for goodies from the garden. Hope the event went great guys.

Community Organic Garden

Well I finally got to the Motueka Community Organic garden yesterday. It reminded me of all the hard work that you must put in if you're developing a garden on bare land. They have laid out beautiffuly shaped garden beds including clover, horseshoe and mandala shapes. I think the pholosphy is that of no dig beds which take awhile to build up. There is a really good herb collection which was thriving in the hot weather. Unfortunatley the land is riddled with the pesky oxalis but they are tirelessly digging it up and mulching over it. It's a really easy place to find just nestled behind Toad Hall by the roundabout in Mot and I think their hours are 9-3 weekdays. They especially welcome new volenteers, perhaps people who have small sections or who are of no fixed abode or just wanting to learn some gardening skills. I like to donate any leftover seedlings to them because I hate seing plants go to waste. I imagine donations of organic manure or pea straw would be appreciated too. The garden is just new so they only have small amounts of produce for sale so far but at the moment you'd be able to get mesclun mix, zucchini, squash and maybe garlic and beans. There are quite a selection of plants available too. Ruth please post a comment if I've forgotton anything and Thank you so much for showing us round in that hot weather.
In the garden at the moment plant broccoli,cabbage, cauli, kohl rabi, celery, silverbeet,beetroot and lettuce. Water well to help them get established, I mulch with whatever is available ie grass clippings, pea straw or even wilted weeds. Seeds to sow are peas and beans if you like a bit of a gamble, alternativley you could sow covercrops onto bare patches, try peas, buckwheat or mustard,these will be dug into soil in late autumn. Think about the garlic beds and maybe pile them up with horse poo.


St John's wort oil

Driving around the Tasman district at the moment you'll see St John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum ) in flower. It is classed as a noxious weed as it can cause poisioning of livestock so you are not supposed to propagate it in your garden. I collect it from the riverside to make herbal oil to treat hemmoroids, skin irritations and wounds. It is also reputed to help with burns. A few years ago it was popular as an antidepressant but I think the tea tastes like turpentine. Carefully identify plants before use, ragwort is also in flower at the moment and looks very similar, a good herbal will have accurate pictures, develop an eye for detail. To make the oil you pick flowers and buds on a dry day after the dew has dried, soak in oil, olive or almond for 6 weeks to 6 months then strain out flowers to reveal the lovely red oil, gently heat with other healing oils eg: calendula or comfrey in a double boiler and add a few shavings of natural beeswax to make a gentle healing ointment. I would suggest a healing prayer or karakia while combining ingredients, bottle in small glass jars, use within a year.


Melon update

Last year my watermelons got to about tennis ball size and stopped growing. I was so dissapointed. Here they are again at tennis ball stage and I'm holding my breath. The early ones I planted have already dissapointed me or maybe I dissapointed them because I think I over watered them and they got root rot. In a moment of desperation last week I gave them all a feed with liquid horse manure which I hope will do the trick. We may need some really warm nights too.

Stink Bugs

These are the little blighters on the beans. There are heaps of little groups hanging out like this lot. I think they're sucking insects, the beans look a bit mishapen and the adult bugs which are lime green, stink. Will have to spray with Pyrethrum I think. I have talked to heaps of folk about them and havn't had any joy finding out what their predators might be. I can't imagine any bird enjoying their flavour, I didn't look at a raspberry that I poped in my mouth the other day, it must've had a stink bug on it and the gross taste was there for ages. Note to self, inspect organic veges before putting in mouth!

Green and Gold

Rudbekias in the front garden. Their display lasts for weeks. The only attention this garden gets is weeding when the weeds are nearly as high as your waist, I try and put some grass clippings on to slow down the weeds. Looking at the path entering the vege garden.
I was born in Aussie but the green and gold theme is purely by accident. Everything looks very lush after the recent rain. The sunflower by the fence is self seeded and probaly the tallest at about 9 or 10 feet. The beans to the left have done well up til the last week when they became infested with bugs. The Pumpkin in the middle has lovely big yellow flowers too and has set some good sized fruit, they are Austrian oil seed which have hulless seeds excellent for roasting and using in baking. Where I'm standing to take this photo I have put in a patch of broccoli and cauli, hopefully they'll survive the white cabbage butterflies and produce before winter, I lay down some beetroot flowers amonst them and hope the seed will germinate. Along the fence are cucumbers and tomatoes they are doing ok but have to compete for nutrients with the neighbours big trees. This evening I planted some corn plants I was given, it was just before dark that I put them in as the day was so hot. I pulled away all the sweet peas from the front fence, hopefully they have dropped plenty of seed for me. I'm trying to get weedy ground prepared to put in some more peas and some dwarf beans too, it may be too late for beans but I like to experiment for myself rather than rely on a book to tell me it's too late. Next week I'm looking foward to visiting the newly established Community Organic Gardens in Motueka,I can't wait.



We are going to have the pitter patter of little feet around her soon. The cat Bella had kittens two weeks ago and their eyes are just starting to open. I got home from Pokororo Fair the other day and went to look at them and they were gone! The cat was outside so I asked her "where are your kittens?" She gave me a very blank look and followed me to where they had been, another blank look and a meow. "Where are they?" I said. Then I started to panic, had the 5 year old girl put them in the bed? No. What if the dog got them? Oh no! "You're a stupid cat where are they?!" Thankfully the other half got home and calmly went round the house until he found them in another box under a bed. Thank goodness. So we are leaving her alone a bit she obviously doesn't like us picking up her babies all the time. Even more exciting is that Willow our little Jack Russel is expecting her first litter, I feel dreadful for her though as she looks so uncomfy already.

Tea tonight

A friend dropped me off some lovely fresh scallops for tea so I asked my 13 year old boy to go out to the garden and pick some things for a salad, I couldn't believe it when he came back and siad he couldn't find anything as he's a real salad lover. We went for a walk together and discovered we had plenty for a salad and some roast veges too. Although all the lettuces have gone to seed in the hot weather the Mesclun mix I scattered two weeks ago was just big enough to pick a few leaves, we found spring onions,beetroot, parsley and fennel as well as some really good sized parsnip to roast, I was particuraly pleased with them as they were self seeded. We got some gerkins too but will need to pick a few more before I can bottle them.
My moon calender says it's a good time to summer prune fruit trees so I'll finish them off tomorrow. I don't think the moon is right for transplanting but commonsense must prevail as the broccoli seedlings are drying out too much in their punnets, I'll try and get them in where the garlic came out. I'd like to get as many Autumn veges in as I can before the kids go back to school and the mornings and afternoons become crazy again.


Pokororo Fair

We're a hive of activity here this week, while I've been sewing my partner has been building this great table, I think it's destined for the Pokororo Fair if we don't get too attatched to it. It's pretty quiet on the gardening front, I ran out thismorning when it started to rain to plant carrot seed as it's a good time for root crops after the full moon. It is time for me to do a bit of maintenence in the garden, I'd be embarrased to publish a picture of it at the moment. My neighbour has bought people over to see which I don't mind but I'm kind of embarrased that it looks so weedy. Hopefully they're looking at the sunflowers which are out or all the fruit and veges and not the weedy bits. There is still a lovely gentle rain outside just what that carrot and leek seeds need, it will really refresh everything else too. Hoping to see all my gardening friends at Pokororo Fair this weekend.


Sew pretty

I'm so glad I had one girl out of four children. I love sewing for her and when I find a pattern that works really well I sew up a few extras for the market. Last week we set up a stall at the Wakefield craft Fair and it proved to be very exciting with lots of people making lovely comments about my garments. I've been back at the sewing machine again wizzing up more skirts. My daughter and her friend are willing models for me to get the elastic and length just right but then they usually say " I would really like one like this" and I end up giving away what I've just made. I'm loving making my leather and fabric bags and I have found that the local Spotlight store has a great deal on craft fabric at the moment where you buy one metre and get one free, I must say I'm a bit addicted and have been in every week since before Christmas. At least it's a healthy addiction!

Good Garlic

The lovely hot summer days have been great for harvesting garlic. I've been digging about 30 bulbs every few days and lying them in the sun to dry. Then I clean them by giving them a rub and sometimes taking off the outer layers. I save the biggest for my own seed and plait the rest for the market, it's not as hard as it looks and anyone who can french plait hair can plait garlic.