Garden aprons

My birthday this year was awesome. There was sitting outside in the sun, drinking beer by the jug, going out to a nice restaurant with friends, an outdoor bath and in gardening related news – this awesome present from Caycos.

Birthday present from Caycos (picture by Caycos) (Photo also taken by Caycos)

I am now complete.

Our pinkhouse

I’ve become a bit obsessed recently with growing things. This has meant that a sunny portion of our sitting room has been taken up with germinating plants. Since this isn’t an ideal situation Thomas and I decided to create a mini greenhouse for seed propagation and small seedling protection.

Step 1: Buy an old window from the tip

We found the following wee gem from the local tip for $10.

Pinkhouse - Step 1: Buy window from tip shop

Step 2: Put some structure in place and have a cat patting break

Cat Break

Step 3: Put on the outer border

Boarding on 1

Step 4. Put on the outer border again (after removing the earlier attempt).

Apparently hardboard warps when wet. Not ideal for an outdoor construction (this time round we used treated plywood).

Boarding on

Step 5. Paint! We felt brave at the paint shop and purchased a paint called Blushingham. I had buyers remorse almost immediately but I actually really love it now.

Painting the Pinkhouse

Step 6. Put plants inside. This was my favourite bit. In this picture we have eggplants, capsicums, pumpkins, zucchini, various types of tomatoes, sunflowers, nasturtiums, basil, corn, leeks and chives.

Complete Pinkhouse

Old windows and raspberries

This weekend I bought an old window and frame at the tip shop for $10. I’ve seen similar windows for sale at recycled renovation places for $160 – $200. The tip is awesome, thanks for the suggestion Jackie. Thomas and I walked arm and arm between the old rusty baths, broken toilets and pieces of interesting junk. As you can guess it was rather romantic.

The window is going to be turned into a mini cold greenhouse. A cold greenhouse is one that isn’t intended for use in winter and therefore doesn’t need to be heated. Apparently the ideal conditions for a greenhouse are between 0°C – 37.7°C with ventilation equivalent to 17% of floor area.   I think I need something that will automatically report back the temperature to me via my phone. I’m going to paint it and stencil flowers on the wood (because I can).

In other garden news I’ve planted two different types of raspberries. It amused me greatly to plant the southern variety at the southern end of our property. I’ve also started zucchini and leek seeds off and put my seed potatoes in the sun. I planted rhubarb too but Thomas is more excited about that than I am :-)

Today we started on a retaining wall for a walkway area to the front garden. I’m glad we got the outdoor bath in early because I’m really looking forward to getting in the bath with a beer as soon as we finish.

The soil detective

 I performed the following test* on about 2 teaspoons of slightly damp soil to find out what sort of soil we have.

  1. Begin by forming a ball, if it stays together, then proceed to the next shape. If it does not form a ball, then you have a sandy soil.
  2. If you can flatten the ball without it breaking up, then you have a silty sand or a loamy sand.
  3. If you can roll the flattened ball into a thick sausage shape, then you have loam
  4. A soil that can be rolled into a think sausage is a clay loam
  5. if you can bend the soil into a horseshoe or ring shape, then you have clay soil.

My soil got to stage 3. It nearly managed stage 4.

Which means I have loam. Loams are a mixture of sand, silt and clay. You can have either a light or heavy loam. Getting to stage 3 would be a light loam and getting to stage 4 would mean a heavy loam. Since I got to stage 3.5 I believe I have a medium loam. Medium loams can be a really good soil mixture, they have the advantages of light and heavy soils without the disadvantage of either.  Yay.

* Thanks to "The Organic Gardener" by Christine and Michael Lavelle.

Cement, dirt and chocolate

The weekend was a hard one for clothes. Assorted clothes were rolled around in dirt, smothered in concrete and smeared with chocolate. I did get a veggie garden, a pole for a privacy screen and beautiful filled chocolate out of it.

My garden obsession is growing. I want to grow every single vegetable that I like (as well as peas and beans because they are pretty). So far I have seeds, seedling and plants for:

  • Capsicum
  • Tomato
  • Eggplant
  • Cucumber
  • Pumpkin
  • Strawberries
  • Mint
  • Rosemary
  • Lemon thyme
  • Garlic
  • Basil
  • Lettuce
  • Chives
  • Nasturtiums
  • Lemons

I really want to add:

  • Potato
  • Corn
  • Zucchini
  • Raspberries
  • Gooseberries
  • Blueberries
  • Grapes
  • Asparagus
  • Rhubarb
  • Artichoke

I’m trying to be an organic gardener and work with companion planting and non toxic sprays.  My mint has a fungi infection which apparently shouldn’t stop you eating it but does hurt the plant in the long run. After chatting to the garden centre lady and using the Google I have found that the best way to tackle the problem is with a spray of one part trim milk to nine parts water. I’m deeply suspicious of remedies that don’t have research behind them so was reassured after reading a research paper on the use on trim milk/water spray on commercial melon growing operations in NZ. We’ll see how my lovely Mojito producing Mint survives.

Here is a picture of my pumpkin seedlings. I love the way the seeds sit on top like hats.

Sprouting pumpkins

  • I’ve keeping an eye out on Trademe for a nice old window to turn into a seedling glasshouse on our front deck.
  • I’ve been watching "At Home with Jamie Oliver". He has a most amazing garden (also a gardener) and I quite enjoy watching/listening to him cook as well. He even cooks at least one or two vegetarian items per show.
  • I’ve also been watching "An edible garden" which is also British and is extremely entertaining. 

I think my worms are happier now. The instructions for my worm garden hadn’t mentioned requiring wet paper or carpet over the food which may be why my worms looked a little sad. I’ve added carpet with a little handle to make food applying easier so hopefully they will breed like crazy soon so they can take most of our kitchen scraps.

Cabbage tree planted

We finally planted the Cabbage tree that I got Thomas for his birthday last year.

I’ve always been disappointed that they don’t actually produces cabbages but it does have a lovely shape.

Cordyline Albertii: A magnificent variegated form of the NZ Cabbage tree. Handsome leaves are coloured matt green with red midribs, cream stripes and pink margins. Formal upright habit. Grows in full sun to 4 mtrs.