Garden Diary

  • The garden has been establishing itself over the last few years with the fruit trees all starting to bear fruit and the vegetable garden settling into a routine. The orange tree I grew from seed has started to grow actual oranges which is nothing short of a miracle ... or climate change. The pergola is weathering in and is now a place to sit using hammocks or chairs. Grapevines are growing up the back corners of it and the plan is to train them across the top to create some shade.

    The old driveway has been removed now that the new garage is in place around the front so the lawn extends around the side of the house creating more opportunities for garden and places to sit and enjoy the sun with some privacy. It has been nice to see the long term plans start continue. 

  • After being left to get established some winter pruning of the fruit trees has happened to try and get a better shape and easier picking over the next few years. An old bath tub has been converted into a larger worm bin and takes its place in the compost area for our oddly large amount of organic waste. A new colony of worms have been moved in and so far seem pretty happy. After we lost our chooks to some marauding dogs the hen house has started to fall apart. We are now thinking about chooks again and this time I think I'll build a decent hen house that can withstand attacking pitbulls. We've had a good few years of fruit and vege out of the garden and our wee girl is getting very used to picking apples stright from the tree. We don't even get a look in on the strawberries and currants. A new pergola has given us some space to not only sit but also to grow vines up replacing an old plum tree that was doing more harm to the backyard than good. A sandpit now also sits in amongst the fruit trees.

  • The garden has been cleaned up and simplified this year. The large raised beds have been replaced with smaller more easily managed beds and a focus on growing what we actually eat. The raspberries, blackberries and boysenberries have all been given areas in the sun and walls to climb up and the lawn area has been cleaned up and turned back into open space. The chooks are still going strong but have been moved back to a conrer of the yard after destroying large areas of grass and making it difficult to walk on. The side of the garage has been cleared to make room for the idea of setting up a studio in it.

  • The garden has entered Spring mode and starting to look green again. Not many changes this year but notable differences include: the old washing line has been replaced with a retractable version, and the Nikau palm has been [reluctantly] removed. Everything else has been a matter of pruning and getting some shape back in.

    Lots of apples this year but the plum and pear trees lost all blossom to a frost. The apricot is putting on size but no blossom yet and it looks like an average year for the currants. Good asparagus though and the potatoes have gone mad.

    Future plans for post-harvest include redesigning the raised beds to six small plots, moving the boysenberry and blackberry to a more suitable location, and removing the hazelnut trees as a lost cause (diseased trees in a neighbouring property have ruined ours). Still deciding on the replacements.

    The herb garden has been recovered from the grass and mint madness and most of our bulbs and flowering plants are doing well this year. Lots of bumblebees but a notable lack of honey bees. The chooks are happy and still laying like troopers.

  • It has been an odd year for the garden to say the least. Earthquakes rattling it around and snow seems to have confused it. Some fruit trees have blossom, others starting to bud out after the first snow, asparagus started to come up (and then promptly left), and we have spent a lot of time removing silt and replacing it with soil.

    We are hoping for excellent fruit this year and have started planning a spray programme for the first time since we've been here.

    As our next (and final) round of renovations are due to start soon the garden will hopefully not be neglected.

  • So far so good. The new raised beds are doing their jobs perfectly and allowed us to grow two sets of potatoes (early and main). Carrots have been growing well, beetroot has been harvested already and preserved and the corn is looking great.

    Tomatoes have taken a long time to get moving this year and the pumpkins seemed to have stalled completely. We have had a huge haul of black currants which have been picked and juiced or frozen. The black boy peaches are looking promising again this year as are the grapes. Even the feijoa has flushed out well this season and looks like it will fruit.

    In pots: cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, chillis, basil, with the latter two housed in the new cold frame.

  • This year the garden is getting some real attention. Working around earthquakes the last few months of sun have let us get out and actually do some work.

    I have made a new compost area to replace the three plastic compost bins and give us more room. Made out of old weather boards, we now have two compartments to feed the green stuff into for long term composting. Much easier to deal with and the back area is tidier and now has a place for chooks.

    A new apple and pear tree have joined the orchard. Both double grafted giving us a good range of fruit and pollination opportunities.

    I made two new raised beds to get all our vegetables above the flood level we seem to have out there in winter. They are proving much easier to work with and with a spot of brown fence paint added look pretty snazzy. The fence also got a going over with the paint to visually tidy things up and hopefully give it a few more years of life. C has woven branches together to make some pretty amazing looking supports for peas, tomatoes, etc. The idea with the peas is that they climb up the support and provide shade for the more tender veges behind the shade. Neat idea really.

    The trees along the fenceline are coming away nicely so hopefully we start to see a hedge form there to cut off some of the wind that whips through there. Lots of blossom so hopefully it turns into fruit this year.

  • Very little writing about the garden happening at the moment as we're too busy dealing with the manic growth that has ensued. Our two year old grape vine has come in strong and is putting on a lot of fruit, the Granny Smith is loaded and we are pulling a basket of strawberries every few days. A lot of the leafy veges have gone silly in this warm wet weather and are going to seed faster than we can eat them. The onions are looking good but also heading to seed pretty quickly. The early potatoes are looking great and the main crop and Maori potatoes are coming along nicely. We have a lot of peas appearing and the ones we have eaten are really sweet. The black currants came off today and have been juiced. We have a few red currants this year as well although another year will see them come right. I am encouraged that the apricot tree has started to put on growth and is starting to widen it's trunk. The plum is much the same and our feijoa is looking ready to flower. We almost got some almonds but they feel early so maybe next year. All in all it's looking good back there.

  • Lots of changes in the garden over the last few weeks. Dad came up and helped fell the big tree in the back corner to let more light into the garden. It has made a huge difference to the morning sun we get now and the neighbour over the back was quite happy to see more of the afternoon sun. We are putting in trees a little more suitable to an urban backyard.

    I have extended the potato patch for this year and been working it over so the soil is in pretty good condition. We have some early spuds set out to sprout for an early start. We should be able to get them going and then set a main crop later in the year so we get more potatoes over next winter. It's a plan at least. We inherited some old rhubarb plants from our elderly neighbour when she moved out recently so hopefully we see some progress there. The one we brought in with us has been a bit sad as we keep moving it, usually as we rearrange the garden. I also noticed that our chilli plants that we had inside have started to put on new growth so I potted them up into individual pots to see what happens. For some reason it had never occurred to me that they would come back after fruiting. Really looking forward to seeing how that goes and must admit I have visions of large chilli plants covered in brilliant red chillis.

    The Black Boy peach trees were topped last weekend to keep them at a manageable height. They look better for it actually and I notice all the trees are starting to put on small buds. Hopefully they are not peaking too early and put on good fruit this summer. The old apricot was also pruned back pretty heavily to encourage the new branches and give it a chance to recover from whatever attacked its base. I would hate to have to take it out if it can be coaxed back to productive life. We are keen to get some new fruit trees this year. On the cards are a pear to espalier (or at least train in some semblance of logic) along the north facing fence and another apple (or two). The choices seem to be a sweet one (maybe Fuji) and a Braeburn. Slim pickings around the garden shops and markets so just keeping an eye out for now.

  • The garden is entering winter mode now and has gone through some layout changes. We finally took down the green fence that separated the back yard into two parts. It has been rebuilt to create a small utility area in the back corner for composts and, eventually, a potting area.

    We had a mixed yield of potatoes this year with the Red Rockets doing really well. I think some of our other varieties were planted too late and with poor seeds. Still, we have a decent amount for a few months. There are four decent sized pumpkins on the vine down the back which should make good soup. The raised beds have been cleaned up but we have left them with quite a diverse range of plants in each one. The seem to work better when a mix of things are growing.

    Other than that it is a matter of letting things recover from the changes and getting some more winter veges in.

  • The garden is in full swing. It is looking like a good year for the black boy peaches as the trees are covered. We got some cherries off the new tree and the strawberries are being picked on a daily basis at the moment. Potatoes are in and coming up quickly - this year we put in a variety of early and later types. The nectarine and almond seem to have been suffering from leaf curl but are coming back with the warmer weather. Thankfully the feijoa, which also took a beating over winter, is putting on new leaf. Not holding out for fruit from them yet. The new granny smith is a real triumph with five great looking apples maturing on it. Not bad for a young tree.

    The onions and garlic are all happy, peas are growing up the odd tripod-ish thing I build, the pumpkins have come up and are growing fast, carrots are on th eway and even a few water melon seeds have germinated and are putting on growth.

    We have been planting out the new raised edge gardens with all sorts of flowering plants, grasses and ground cover. A new lime tree went in to replace the little one that hasn't quite given up but is not likely to produce. The orange tree (grown from seed) is growing well and if it ever fruits I will be over the moon. From the looks of it all we are going to be spending some time preserving this year. I am dying to get some chooks soon but the general consensus is that we need to remove the garage first (partly for the building material, partly for the space). Lots to look forward to.

  • A brilliant Friday spent in the garden. The fruit trees are all either in full blossom or are starting to show fruit. Some are being rescued as they are still too small to really give fruit a go this year. The borage under the fruit trees is covered in bees and there is a distinct hum coming from the sky which makes me think there are a lot of bees up there somewhere. The black currants all have fruit as they were left along last year giving them plenty to grow on. The red currants are still getting up to size so hopefully they start producing next year. Needless to say the raspbeeries have gone crazy and are showing the fist signs of fruit as well. The blackberries and boysenberry are growing at a rather more sedate pace so will see ho wthey go. One of the blackberries took a beating in the frost this winter. I dug over the potato patch and noticed it is packed with worms and the soil is looking really good. The whole garden has a definite 'spring' feel about it and it is great to see it looking so good.

  • With the onset of Spring the garden has started to come back to life.

    The fruit trees are all starting to put on blossom and leaf and so far we have had no major frost or wind to knock them around. The last few weeks have seen the completion of the raised edge and a frame for the tomatoes to grow up.  The new compost bins have started to do their job and we have been removing pretty good quality soil from them. The asaparagus has started to come up so we'll leave that for next year. We rediscovered the yams we planted last year so they are also sitting. The onions and garlic have all been putting on size for the last few months so hopefully they come to something. The borage growing around the trees has all come away and the bees seem to be enjoying it. Hopefully that pays off in terms of fruit this year.

  • The garden has been left alone for a few months while winter did its thing. Of note, we have started putting a raised edge around the garden to create extra space for plants along the edge and define the shape of the lawn a bit more. We have also removed the large wooden box compost that was smoldering in the corner and replaced with three smaller plastic composts that are a little tidier and are less intrusive on that corner. A couple of native trees have been planted behind them to start creating the hedge along that north facing fence. The plan is that it'll be low enough to let light in but high enough for privacy and stopping wind. Part of the lawn that was really lumpy has been dug over and is being progressively levelled ready for some grass seed a little closer to Spring. We noticed the flooding is still pretty bad in one corner around the raised gardens so will have to get serious about that soon.

    With a little more planning this year we have put in garlic, onions and asparagus. The onions and garlic have been poking their heads up over the last few weeks despite some frantic digging from the cat. All trees are still with us and I noticed the Hazelnuts and Granny Smith all have small buds appearing on them.

  • The garden has got that very green, summer look about it. We have bees and all sorts of bugs whizzing around, birds, spiders and various other forms of life all having a great time. We call it diversity in action. Our garden now sports some hardware - two really comfy chairs with arms wide and flat enough to hold a decent beer still in a norwester; and a wooden moose silhouette. I am particularly proud of the moose and the somewhat incongruous reminder of Norway it portrays. It was also fun to make.

    We have continued to harvest potatoes, our first squash, tomatoes, radishes, lettuces, silverbeet, carrots, strawberries, raspberries, boysenberries and spring onions. I noticed the maori potatoes are happy enough and the yams have poked up. Onions are sizing up nicely, we have a few good pumpkins, beans are getting up, and the tomatoes are now staked up and starting to ripen up. It is looking like a pretty good productive year for us.

    C has been making purees from a lot of the excess veges which we are starting to use in pretty anything we eat. She found a great recipe book which has recipes that hide veges in all sorts of things. We had brownies with silverbeet and carrot puree in them. Veges without the taste. Also makes a mean soup and keeps well. Should suit our lifestyle over winter wonderfully.

  • With summer here the garden is looking pretty healthy. The pumpkins have gone crazy again and are needing some solid control to keep them from invading the onions. The potatoes have done their thing and from initial excavations it seems we have a good load of them ready for digging. The strawberries are fruiting happily this year and we are getting a lot of new ones off each week which has been great. The trees are all starting to pull away now. Some needed a bit of pruning to get rid of the wood killed in the frosts but all have recovered. The feijoa has put on flowers already and I noticed we have a few surviving black boy peaches on the trees. So far things are getting settled nicely and with a bit of luck next year with be quite productive.

  • It's all go in the garden. The raised beds have started growing well, corn and pumpkins have come up and are racing along with the warm weather and the potatoes are doing their thing. This year we're ready for potatoes and are mounding up around them to try and get a bit more out of them. We have our red currant cuttings in the ground now as they were strong enough to be planted out. The raspberries have gone crazy and the blackberries have been joined by a boysenberry so we've got a good range of fruit now. It looks like the peaches and apricot were hammered by late frost and lost all the fruit so it's not looking good for them this year. A new plum and granny-smith apple have also become part of our little orchard. It's starting to look really good back there.

  • With the warmer weather appearing more regularly we have built up the raised beds for planting. I moved the raised beds around to give us more room in the middle for ground veges: potatoes etc and make it easier to move between them all. We now have a new dwarf nectarine and apricot in. The idea is to have a low central area rising up through fruiting shrubs and low trees into larger fruit trees. Should provide some shelter from the Easterly and the Norwester we get around here while catching the sun for most of the day. Interestingly dandelions have started to grow under the trees so hopefully we get enough to have another go at making that coffee-ish drink. The raised beds are easier to work with and get veges out of so we are both more inclined to work them which is making them more productive. All the low ground cover herbs we put around the garden have started to spread and are keeping a lot of the weeds we can't find a use for down. I notice that all the fruit trees have started to put on blossom so hopefully that turns into something this year. Presumably we will get more black boy peaches and as the wine from a few years back has actually turned out well I'm sure we can put them to use. The fruit we preserved has lasted well so that'll also be another thing to carry on this year. All good.

  • Coming in to winter we have a new cherry tree, courtesy of C's parents and the raised beds have been producing like demons. I have managed to reduce the existing compost down to a manageable size and started a lot more 'composting in place' to reduce the labour of moving it all around. I planted a late pumpkin to help break down some tree prunings we'd used to build up an area prone to flood. Basically I laid the prunings, covered them with soil and planted the pumpkins in it all. The woods has started to break down and create good compost and raise the level of the ground so, hopefully flooding is less of a problem. The pumpkin has gone nuts.

    The tomatoes this year have been very late and the constant temperature changes have played havoc with their shape. They should make good soup though. We got a lot of black boy peaches off the trees so some have been made into wine and the rest have either been eaten or preserved. The apricot has simply continued to die but managed 3 edible apricots. Sadly I think it'll have to be removed next year and replaced.

    We have the orchard planned out now and will start putting in trees in spring. Our passionfuit vine has started to grow well and has been covered to protect it from frosts. Hopefully it starts to produce some fruit next summer. Everything else is starting to get ready for winter though we do have a nice little late crop of greens coming up. No one will believe me but we have helped the soil gain (and retain) moisture by keeping the lawns longer. The long term plan is to reduce the amount of open lawn considerably in favour of well designed planting beds. It's all looking a lot healthier.

  • Our new house has quite a large backyard that is just perfect for the things we want to do. The sun passes over the full length of the property providing really good growing conditions. When we moved in the section was pretty much empty with some black boy peach trees around the south and east sides and an apricot that had seen better days. It looked like someone had once had vegetable gardens in the ground as there are fantastic ripples through the lawn, looking a bit like graves actually ... Our first move was to put in raised beds to get above the somewhat dead lawn soil and get vegetables growing. Master carpenter I am not but the final beds do the job and the rustic look is fine by me. We also planted our feijoa in the ground and started planning out the orchard. An almond and two hazelnut trees went in next in what will become our 'nut corner'. The fruiting shrubs: black currants, blueberry, gooseberry, and cranberries went in next creating a great edging behind the raised beds. In time this is going to work well I think.

  • A very settled garden at the moment with the onset of winter. All the veges have been dug up and a sackful of potatoes harvested. I picked the tomatoes while green as the vine fell down in a heavy wind. These ripened up well sitting in the sun and have contributed to some great tomato soup. The rhubarb has come up well and after mounding soil around it has started to put on great stems. Looking forward to trying it. Took a section from the orange berry to see if it wil spread and help keep weeds down. All the fruiting plants are doing well and hopefully next year will see a greater amount of fruit from them.

  • The recent spell of wet and warm weather has pushed the garden into action. The potatoes, lettuces, radishes, garlic and cabbages have all gone mad. The tomatoes have just gone in after sitting in the tunnel house to get going. The feijoa has forgiven me for pruning it and has started putting on leaf again and we got the first raspberries this year. The gooseberry and blackberry have settled in and are starting to grow really well. It looks like a good year for citrus as the lemon and lime trees both have loads of flowers and despite its small size the lime is setting loads of fruit. I noticed this morning that the olive tree is also setting fruit. The cutting I took of the elderberry has taken and is putting out shoots and the grape vine cuttings seem reasonably happy so far.

  • The weather has turned a bit recently and the garden has responded in turn. The potatoes are coming up well and I've planted successive lots to keep them growing into next year. We recently bought a blackberry, gooseberry and orangeberry (we were intrigued) plants and put those in. Many of the cuttings have also started to move now so fingers crossed most of them will harden up and put down roots.

  • So far this year has been a shocker for the garden. We're still getting very variable spring weather and seedlings simply aren't coming up as fast. The tunnel house is working overtime on germinating lettuces, chillis and cabbages for planting out soon. The potatoes are coming up but somewhat slowly. Fair enough considering the cold winds. The cabbages that were growing went to seed during a hot spell and then were crushed by the snow...the little buggers didn't stand a chance. Hopefully things settle down so we get a good growing period before Christmas.

  • The first lot of potatoes went in today, along with peas and carrots. The garlic has started to come up and the cabbages have really gone mad. I've set up a slightly different way of containing the peas so will be interesting to see how well it works. Put some lettuce seed in the tunnel house to germinate so hopefully we can start to have fresh salads again. May also put in some beetroot, though not as much as last year.