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Glorious Garden Flowers and the Veggie Plot
New Zealand in Springtime
New Zealand in Spring time is a riot of Flowers. As it is situated in the Southern Hemisphere, the Spring time is at an opposite time to the Spring time in April in the Northern Hemisphere, it is in October. Hedges of Camellias and colorful Photinia in shades of red and green surround gardens. Massive bushes of rhododendron burgeon with color. Clematis climbs up anything that stands still, trees, walls or pergolas. Wisteria hangs great frothy fronds of purple and white. Azaleas have shows of flame colored blossoms. Fragrant Lilly of the valley grows in the shade of the Japanese maple.The air is scented with honeysuckle.
The garden I tend in New Zealand is situated next to Lake Taupo in the North Island. The soil is very porous and quick draining as it is mainly volcanic pumice owing to the fact that Lake Taupo is the caldera of a huge volcano that exploded around 2000 tears ago. Nutrients tend to leach out of the very porous soil very quickly as rain and watering wash through. Compost is the answer to this problem. All kitchen waste except meat scraps, vegetable peels, citrus peel, damp newspapers torn up, wet cardboard (not colored) torn up, grass clippings and hedge clippings go into the compost bin. It is kept moist and turned periodically until a soil like substance results. Magic! This precious substance gets dug into the flower beds and the vegetable plot.
New Zealand has very many horses. It is a common site to see bags of horse manure for sale at the farm gate. Make sure it is well rotted before you put it on the garden. Mrs Henney Penney the local chicken farmer sells bags of chicken manure which is also good. These animal manures I tend to apply in the autumn (fall). This ensures that after the Spring planting, seedlings have the necessary nutrients for a good beginning and a head start. I keep the pots and containers that I get when I buy seedlings from the local nursery. Fill them with a mixture of compost and topsoil and grow your own seeds in these convenient little containers. Don't forget to label them. I find lollypop sticks are ideal for this purpose but make sure you use a permanent marker to write on them. Trying to decipher a murky blur is very frustrating when it has been watered a few times!.
Patience is a virtue, this we all know, it is especially necessary for gardeners as you have to wait for the plants to mature, keeping a watchful eye out for caterpillars and other pests or your cabbage leaves will provide a meal for the cabbage white butterfly, not you! (See pics!)
Believe me the wait is worth it. Nothing beats being able to pop to the Veggie patch for fresh produce. The difference in taste is phenomenal. You also know what has been added to the plot and that it is truly "organic". I love my veggie plot Vegetables that I have found easy to grow include peas, silver beet, spinach, arugala, beans of all description. My pole bean plants are five years old and still producing as the mild climate does not kill the plants. With the exception of the pole beans, I rotate the position of the crops. Peas and beans fix nitrogen in the soil so I always dig in the plants after the end of their useful life after putting the main plant in the compost bin. Tomatoes are another must have and I grow the tiny little gem for flavors sake.As you can see, my veggie plot is small but the productivity is so high that I rarely need to buy vegetables.
As for herbs, I try to find a spot for parsley, thyme and coriander near the kitchen. I keep a pot of Basil on the kitchen windowsill as it is very susceptible to cold and I use a lot of it. Marjoram is another herb I keep near the kitchen as I love Italian cookery.
Flowers grow in abundance here and the photographs I took on the way to the village, less than a mile, but a floral delight. I hope you enjoy this little insight into the delights of gardening in New Zealand. Oh! the exercise is supposed to be good for you too!