Two and a half months ago, on our 4th day in New Zealand, with the help of my family and our friend/gardener/consultant-of-all-things, Dennis, I planted a garden. And it is overwhelming how quickly and successfully it has grown. Yesterday, I harvested the first big vegetables: two heads of broccoli and one of cauliflower. And there’s more where that came from. (I think there will be some pickling going on!) So this is a little re-cap of the best garden I’ve ever had the pleasure of growing.
A Garden is Born
On September 27th, Dennis took me and the kids to the big hardware store in town and he walked me through the garden section. (His general gardening knowledge was helpful, as was his translation ability, e.g. capsicums are peppers, marjoram is oregano, etc.) So we came back with bags of compost and soil, slug repellent, fertilizer, and he had some magical homemade brew of concentrated seaweed… juice? Anyway, we began to weed and till the unkempt plot of yard that would become my garden.
Amazingly, within a few hours, we’d transformed the weed field into this tidy little 3-plot garden. I’m not sure what construction or deconstruction had happened at some point, but there were rows and rows of stacked bricks in the far corner of the backyard. So after we plopped the seedlings in the ground and Dennis magic-a-fied them with the seaweed moonshine, Thora and I set to making nice borders for the plots, using these bricks.
How could we resist this shot, our own version of American Gothic.
My Garden Gets Braces
Then, almost exactly one month later, on October 26th, I took these photos of the nice little garden that was growing for me! Here are the rows (from left to right) marigolds, broccoli, and cauliflower. In the front are some stringy-looking shallots (front left) and garlic (front right).
I’ve never grown cauliflower or broccoli, so I was shocked by how vertical they were, and wide-leafed. (I was so naive.) Here I am attempting to capture their height.
And here is the plot of lettuce (right front), strawberry (right back) and beans (left). Of these, I’d only ever grown strawberries, so again, I was amazed that there was so much growth! How was this happening?!?
Here’s a view of what appeared to me, at the time, to be an almost tropical quantity of lettuce. Had anyone ever seen so much lettuce, I wondered? (Again, I had no idea.)
I don’t know what the tomatoes looked like on October 26th, because apparently they didn’t even merit a photograph. And given how indiscriminate of a photographer I am, I’m astonished that I didn’t even take a photo for documentary purposes. I think the weeds may have been the issue.
My Garden Runs off with a Bad Boy Racecar Driver and Gets Pregnant
During several weeks in November, I weeded, and laid down newspaper and then a thick layer of wood chips/mulch. And surprisingly, it was exactly one month after the previous batch of photos, on November 26, that I proudly snapped the following photos of my de-weeded, mulched, and once-again-tidy garden. These photos, taken two weeks ago, reveal what an insecure gardener I am. I still can’t believe that it’s all* still with me! Behold, the tomato plants of two weeks ago, which at this point merited staking, behind a row of marigolds.
They are a mix of heirloom and cherry and a few run of the mill ones that I’ve forgotten their names. At this point, I have no idea what is what, since a few had to be moved out of pots because they were getting water-logged, and I crammed more in when a few looked like they were struggling. So it’ll be a fun surprise to see what appears.
And behold the massive (kind of frightening, really, for a first-timer), almost-ripe cauliflower and broccoli plants! (And look at that shallot right there in the front, standing up so proud!)
And this shows you what an insecure gardener I am. I was tickled that there was indeed a vegetable amidst all that excessive green leaf-ery. So I took a picture of it. Behold.
And behold the pretty little flowers on my bean plants…
… which was indeed growing beans!!! This was all too improbable and wonderful!
And the lettuce… It’s unreal. Sean and I eat significant salads every night and these 6 heads of lettuce are killing us. It is so robust and, well, possibly arrogant is the word. You want to meet an arrogant lettuce? Come on down to Gizzy, where the soil is sandy and well-drained and the sun is hot and ozone-free. There are moments when I think that this lettuce might actually be the villain in a horror movie, a la The Blob. I guess only time will tell on that one.
So there you have it. Last night, when I was watering the garden after the kids were asleep, (we’re approaching the longest day of the year!), I noticed that the Auric-high tomato plants actually have little, baby tomatoes. So tomorrow, I’ll go snap a photo of those. While I’m out there, hopefully I won’t get murdered by the lettuce, and if I don’t, then I’ll be back on Boxing Day to report back. Stay tuned…
* The strawberries are the only plant to not yield anything, but it’s not for a lack of production. I think the birds** that inhabit the trees around the garden, and merrily eat the fruit flies that multiply in the compost bin, also eat the strawberries before they can ripen. I know, I know, that’s what a mesh screen is for. But I don’t really mind. Those fruit flies are seriously crazed and kind of horror-movie-esque themselves, so if the birds take care of even a fraction of those fruit flies, I’m happy to supply them with a strawberry or two.
**Unless the lettuce is eating them. I mean, they’re right there. I guess only time will tell on this one, too.