Tag Archives: growing food

the new vegetable patch


Its time to start recording the progress of the vegetable garden at our new house. The house is a new build so the garden is a blank canvas.

We decided this would be the area that the beds would be placed.

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Its the eastern side of the property, so doesn’t get full sun til mid – late morning, then keeps it until around 4pm ish, in the winter. Obviously in the summer the sun will be higher in the sky and the area will have sun for longer.

Originally, we were going to extend right back to the fence line, but in the end, due to location of waste pipes, the clothes line had to be put in the back.


I then begun the fun part of digging up the ground!. I dug a rectangular bed for the main vegetable bed and a bed along the fence line that will primarily be a fruit bed. However this year it will have some vege as I get to grips with a sensible plan!.




Initially we werent going to raise the beds, but decided to as it will keep things tidier. I still have to break down the earth and remove the turf from the raised bed, but have completed the task for the berry bed behind.

the berry bed currently has broad beans, lettuce, strawberries, raspberries and a pear tree which i’m going to espalier on the fence.






This view shows where the compost bin is – there is a second one now beside it. you can make out the grey pole of the clothes line behind the green bag. that green bag had vege in it that we moved from the old house. the soil is going into the raised bed once i’ve broken down the turf clods more.

The area in front of this raised bed will most likely become another raised bed next year. we decided just to work on one this year. i want 2 however as i want us to be able to feed ourselves from the garden, therefore we have to grow enough to sustain that!.

I havent worked out what to grow this year yet. I have some seed potatoes, but other than broad beans and lettuce, i havent decided how wild to go yet. part of me wants to go gentle and really work on the soil this year, and the other half wants to get everything in the ground!. I’ll definitely have some beans and corn, but other than that, i’m not sure.

We’re just about to enter spring here in NZ, so soon it will be time to start sowing seed!.

Exciting times ahead for sure!.


some success in the garden!.


just as the vege garden is about to give up its bounty, we have decided to sell up and move north of the city!.

I’m really pleased with how the sweetcorn is going and I have a great baby butternut squash coming along. we’ll be able to enjoy the corn, but I dont think the squash will ripen enough before we have to be out of here, plus, I’ll be OZ and I cant ask my parents to remember to check it and bring it with them!.

I’ve had good success with the rainbow carrots as well – those colours held once cooked. the white one must have hit a stone on the way down!.


the corn is at the back of the plot in the photo below. as time has gone on, I noticed the corn I sowed when I transplanted the first sowing was doing better than the 1st lot. I’m putting this down to the first 9 being sown in loo rolls. I’m thinking the rolls cant have broken down fast enough for the roots to really spread out. I’ll check for sure when I dig up the plants as I remove the corn. i wont sow in loo rolls again, for sweetcorn at least. but I will definitely grow corn again!.


the butternut squash a few days ago – its twice the size now!. I’ve taken off the growing tip to encourage growth of the squash rather than the plant. I haven’t ever got this far before – I one I started in the UK didn’t survive transplanting!. I hope I’ve done the right thing, but that’s what my NZ vege book told me to do!!.


I’ve also had a case of blossom end rot on one of my oxheart tom plants. I’ve haven’t looked up what causes this yet.

a couple of the houses we looked at at the weekend had large vege beds – of the 7 houses we went into, 5 had vege beds of some form or other!. we have 2 of those 5 on our short list!.

I have planted up 2 potato grow bags with leek seedlings, so we’ll at lease had something to look forward to in the winter. I’m also going to take some celery and strawberries with me.

( and then all the excitement of planning a vege garden on a bigger scale can begin!!).

New Gardening Books!


I know I’m getting old when I get excited about the arrival of gardening books!.

Last year at the Ellerslie Flower Show, I brought some special publication books from NZ Gardener magazine. I really liked them as they have good local knowledge tips in them. I was aware there were more, but they weren’t on sale at the show.

roll on to this month issue of the magazine, and there on the second to last page was an add for back issues and reprinted special interest publications, for $10 each. I jumped on the phone and ordered 5!. I really wanted 6, but decided to leave herbs for a later date.

they arrived today –


they are, homegrown (plot to plate), fresh vege, tomatos, potatoes and root vege, a self sufficient type one.

they are just good no nonsense gardening information from a wealth of local gardeners and while I’m still learning the growing season here,they are really helpful!. and they have great recipes to use the produce you grow.

Plus, my parents have decided to buy a new house, so there’s plenty of inspiration for the new bigger and brighter kitchen garden!!.

December in the vege patch.


Hi all, I thought I would update where the vege patch is up to currently.


the above rose is fast becoming one of my favourites. its called Crown Princess Marguerita and has the most wonderful apricot scent.

below are some of my tomatoes. I have 3 varieties – an oxheart, a red cherry and a white cherry. those are the red cherries in the photo on the right. the top 2 have been out for about 10days, but I noticed this morning a a few more have ‘popped’ on the truss.

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below on the left is 3 brocolli plants. not sure where I’m going to put them!. in the right photo, our new spuds for Xmas are on the left and the 2 bags on the right are yams.

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below, on the left, a lettuce I’ve left to go to seed in order to collect them, and on the right the strawberries.

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the runner beans are beginning to take off and on the right, my red kidney beans are looking good. I should have a decent 1/4-1/3 of a normal size jar.

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on the left is a view of the vege plot round the back of the house. it’s really taken off in the past couple of weeks what with all the rain we’ve had. on the right is a close up on my rainbow carrots. I only ever managed to grow carrots in grow bags in the UK, so I’m pleased at how these are looking. I sowed another row today along side.

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my pride and joy below – my sweetcorn!. this seems (touch wood!) to be my best crop of corn to date. I tried on my allotment in the UK but they never amounted to much. here they seem to be thriving – there are brick and concrete walls near the bed and I’m hoping they will help provide some extended heat from the sun which will help.

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below is 2 of my 3 sisters bed!. I’ve planted a butternut squash beneath the corn, but wont be planting any climbing beans as I’ve got some dwarf heritage beans right next door. next year I will certainly try the whole 3 sisters system.

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said dwarf heritage beans!. and the resident heritage moggy loving the warm soil and bricks!.

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with less than 2 weeks to Christmas I hope you all are enjoying the holiday festivities. here at my house it is very quiet – my mother doesnt like Christmas so we have very little, if any decorations. its all rather sad really, but as I live here currently, there is nothing I can do about it!.

Garden update


today i have begun a trial for sowing seeds successionally. i say a trial because in all my years growing vegetables, i’ve yet to conquer successional sowing!. so….on the 1st and the 3rd saturday of the month i will sow a few seeds of various vege or lettuce, and come the autumn, i shall look back at how well i was able to do it!.

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this morning it was lovely and sunny, so i set myself up for a few minutes of sowing – it really only took about 20mins to complete the process of sowing and recording what i’d sown!. i sowed brocolli, kale and butternut squash – all 1st time sowings, and then some lettuce and green and yellow beans to keep whats already growing going!. i’m going to put the squash under my sweetcorn ala the 3sisters. i wont have any climbing beans up the corn this year as i already have 2 wigwams of french beans and one of runners!. think thats enough beans!.

now, heres some progress with other things growing in the garden –

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the potatoes are going great guns, and i’m going to have a bumper crop of blueberries – even better than my UK crop i reckon!.

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look look look!!! – the first strawberry!. any day now!. on the right is my red kidney bean bed – i’m just growing a few plants to start filling a jar with beans for cooking – it will take a few years to have a decent supply as i dont have the room for a major planting session with these. i’m ok with that – every year i’ll grow a few plants and the supply will build up.

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my corn patch is looking good. i tried corn one year in the UK, but it didnt take off. this crop is already looking better than the previous effort. fingers crossed!. on the right is a plant i picked up the other day for its unusual flowers – i think it belongs to the daisy family and is really pretty.

and finally……i am readying some pots for my tomatos and i happened to look outside one evening this week and discovered someone else had taken up residence in a tomato pot!. i’ll have to have serious words because he wont  be able to do that once i have repotted a tomato!!.


summer is on the horizon, the days are getting warmer, sunnier and the light hangs round for longer. now, off to find out what causes leaf curl on lemon bushes!.

seedling updates


I love the promise of new seeds as they begin to sprout.

I’m in my first serious year of growing food in NZ after experimenting on my allotment in the UK for 3+ years. this year will definitely be a trial and error year. Plus I dont have alot of growing space and things have to be slotted in here and there in my mothers garden.

so far I have growing 2 sowings of broad beans, lettuce, silverbeet, strawberries, blueberries, pinenuts, mandarins, french beans in yellow and green, red kidney beans, black eyed peas, sweetcorn, tomatoes – cherry and cooking, in red and white, leeks, spring onions.

I also have some red onions that will be ready to harvest soon.

below- all the seedlings enjoying some warm Canterbury sunshine. they still mainly live indoors, but on the warmer days I am putting them out now. I’m particularly proud of the tomato seeds that you can just spot in the middle of the photo. these are from the local heritage seed exchange. the seeds were harvested in 2009!. I’ve been asked to give some back and its taken a while for the first sowing to germinate, but one has overnight, and the ones in the middle were a second sowing – I have about 5 of the variety now so hopefully I can generate a few seeds to give back later. a couple of the bean varieties are also for the seed exchange.


I love watching beans as they emerge.


tulips growing in a wooden wheelbarrow – these should be my favourite = Queen of the Night.


I’m not a big fan of daffs, but I do love the pink ones.


and thanks to wordpress having a small issue with photos today, another shot of the seedlings that should have been up with the other at the top!.

if you are in the southern hemisphere, have you started your seeds yet? I’m not sure if I’m too early, but time will tell.


it’s probably to early but……


I planted some seeds today!!.

its a bit of a gamble, as I haven’t grown anything here in NZ before, but in reading a couple of garden guides, it seems to be worth giving it a go!. I’ve made good use of my repurposed mini greenhouse, which will keep the seeds in a nice warm environment, especially since they are in a north facing window. on really warm days, I will take them outside and remove the lid slightly, and nearer planting out time, will put them out daily with the lid off fully.

in true recycle mode, I also made some markers from a milk bottle!. I decided I would record progress like I did in the UK, which means a bunch of markers with either numbers or letters on them rather than seed variety. I painted on the numbers with nail polish I won’t use now given my desire to reduce the toxins I put in my body.

so, this is my set up currently –

an IKEA box I brought out from the UK, sitting in a north facing window that gets sun all day, when its out!.




a cut up milk bottle – I made 17 markers for now and have spares. I wont be using all 17 this year though, as I don’t have a lot of growing space.





there is something about a box of seeds – so much potential!.


recording the beginning!.




4 of the 6 seed trays planted and labelled!. 3 varieties of bean, and 3 of tomato for now.



now, I just need them all to germinate!. some of the seeds are from the heritage seed exchange, and I need to give some back at the autumn swap next year!.