vegetable garden

Introduction

This page has not been intended to be a step-by-step guide to growing different edibles. It is a record of what I am doing in my garden and hopefully will motivate you to think about what to grow in yours or maybe to start a garden.

Hamilton, New Zealand, is an inland city sheltered from many of the storms, particularly in the winter that other coastal cities and towns get. It has a temperate climate. The hot dry months of January and February have consistent day time temperatures between 23°C /74°F to 26°C/79°F dropping at night to 11°C/52°F to 19°C/66°F. Humidity can be high with evening thunder storms. Tradition has it that we plant warm loving seedlings like tomatoes at the end of October.

The cold wet months are July August with day time temperatures down to about 12°C/53°F. We can have frosty nights down to -3°C/ 26°F.

This makes it an ideal climate for growing edibles. We have the frost to chill the berry fruit canes like raspberries yet long enough summers to grow heat loving plants like capsicums. While things do dry out in summer and some watering is required it does not usually get excessively dry.

My vegetable garden is on the west side of my house. This causes the garden to be shaded for part of the day from the house on one side then from the 1.8m/6ft fence on the other. Because of this I really only have a summer garden. With the sun dropping low in the sky over the winter months any exposure to sun light is limited so I leave it to fallow.

I am also interested in cooking so I often select what to grow with a recipe in mind. This adds a different, interesting dimension to gardening. For example I've planted Angelica for my crystallised fruit mix and Cranberries and Goji fruit to dry for my muesli so you will find that some plants on this page will have links to the recipe page.


blank canvas

Designing a garden
for pleasure


Our house was moved onto this section in 2003 when we subdivided our 2 acre life style block. This meant we had to develop our section from scratch.

A landscape designer was commissioned to draw up a garden layout plan.

garden layout plan

While it was a help I really think you need to live in a place for a season to get the feel of the shape of the section, how you want to use it and where the sun falls at different times of the year.

The major changes we did were to move the vegetable garden from the North West end of the section to the back of the house on the West side.

It has this delightful winding cobblestone path through it which I think looks really good. It has the added advantage of being able to look out over it from the office window.

  lawn

After a season I moved all the shrubs out of the centre of the lawn to the fence line so when they are established they give us privacy and to clear an area for open lawn space.

We enjoy having birds on our property. Some people don't. I remember my uncle, who was a keen vegetable gardener; use to set rat traps in his garden to catch the black birds that attacked his tomatoes. Another friend, who lives on a life style block, shoots the birds that make a mess of his garden with a slug gun.

garden visitors The birds give us a lot of pleasure watching them feed and attending to their young. Because of this we garden to encourage them. We have a bird bath on our deck placed where we can see them from our family room, kitchen and dining room. This is a very active area during the hot dry months of the year.Winter bird feeding
 

The Cercis "Forest Pansy" tree with its open branches is just right for birds to perch and groom after a good bath. In the winter the Cercis loses its leaves and we have a feeding station in the tree for the Wax Eyes.
garden visitors

We want to build up an organic layer under all the shrubs. As the shrubs get bigger and cover move ground with their canopy the grass will die off and weeds will be surpressed.

To help this process we are mulching around the base of the shrubs with grass clippings, being careful to keep the clippings away from the trunk. Clippings around the trunk has the potential to rot the base and kill the shrub. Managing the ground under the shrubbery in this way enhances and encourages foraging for the birds.


Soil Health

Most plants thrive in friable organic type soil so that is the starting point of any good garden. Each winter I dig in kitchen organic waste (not meat) into my vegetable garden. I do this by digging a trench then once full of the waste; cover it over by digging the next trench along side. The waste rots down and attracts worms. I have a small plastic bucket with a lid that sits on the side of the kitchen bench to collect the peelings and other organic waste. In the summer it goes into a compost bin and in the winter direct into a trench in the vegetable garden. When sowing out seedling I usually work in a little general fertiliser around the planting zone and that would be all the plants get except the tomatoes that would get several potash applications during their growing period.


Watering

The only stress plants usually get once the cooler spring weather passes is a water shortage. To prevent this trickle the hose on the root area of fruit trees and establishing shrubs for two to three hours at a time. It is particularly important to deep water fruit trees at fruit setting time. If the tree is stressed at this point the setting fruit will drop. This is not practical for the vegetable garden so use a sprinkler either early morning before the heat of the day or in the evening.

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