Name: Lobelia Queen Victoria
A perennial plant that is a stunning showpiece in the garden. Dark burgundy foliage stands erect reaching approximately 80cm in height.
Enjoys moist and damp conditions - is ideal next to ponds and waterways. Can handle shade but more sun means darker leaves. Too much shade and the leaves develop a green tinge.
Flowers during summer - tall spikes of gorgeous bright scarlet flowers. Can be a favourite of butterflies.
Stems can be damaged by excessive wind so group plantings and supports can be helpful.
Cut the flowering stems down after flowering is finished and new growth with emerge from the base for next seasons flowering.
Well, as so very often happens; best laid plans are made to be changed and nothing is ever as certain as we think. I had planned to take the next couple of months to get ready for spring and work on my own garden, but I just couldn't turn down the invitation to attend a few fundraising markets. So we have started our market season ahead of schedule, but will still be taking things easy and gradually building momentum as we move towards spring.
Our first market was the Waihola midwinter market raising funds for the improvement of the local playground (Waihola Playgrounds Trust). The weather was just perfect and we were impressed with the support shown by the Waihola community. I love the small town feel and will be sure to attend again next year.
Moving forward into August, we are looking at another fundraising market, this time for the Mosgiel Playcentre. The Mosgiel Big Day Out is to be held on Sunday 9th August at the Elmgrove School. It is shaping up to be a great event with a good mix of new and second hand goods. Keep an eye on our Facebook page to see what specials we will be running on the day.
Other potential markets in the pipeline include occasional appearances at the Blueskin Community Market, we will test out the newly established Beach Market St Clair in August, and we definitely want to return to the Botanic Gardens Plant Sale in October. We will be posting the dates and places as we get closer to each event.
I hope to see some familiar faces in the crowds so do pop down and visit with us. In the meantime, stay warm and dry, I get the feeling that winter isn't done with us quite yet!
So we are now done with markets for this season. I decided to finish early this year as family commitments were clashing a bit over the March period - and as I started working from home to be more accessible to my family, I really must make the effort to remain so! Plus the added issue of losing two greenhouses to wind this year meant I had less stock than I was happy with. However - spring will return to rejuvenate us all, and so too shall the next market season!
We are starting to see a bit of a change in the weather patterns now - it feels a little less summer like and the mornings are noticeably darker. We are working hard to get the plants to a point where they will survive the winter without too much hands on fussing. I will be clearing out the weaker specimens and taking care to move the more cold sensitive plants to the warmest part of the garden. But it isn't all over yet and we will surely have more good weather soon!
In the meantime I have my winter vege to prick out and prepare for planting out into the garden. I have been so busy with plants for market that our own vegetable garden was almost non-existent this year. It will be nice to get a late crop in so we too can enjoy the exceptionally good flavours of home-grown veg. I have started a good mix of brassicas and winter greens and will even be so cheeky as to try a run of carrots before it gets too cold. Add to that another lot of spuds in buckets and we should have a few nice meals as winter sets in.
As always - we are still here to fill orders for delivery (or arranged pick up) over the winter break so do get in touch if there is something you need. I will be continuing to post new stock as it come ready for sale, so keep watching the website (which I am to update again shortly) and our Facebook page to stay up to date with what we have available.
See you all soon!
We have been having glorious holiday weather over the last few weeks. The long hot sultry days of summer finally made an appearance and for my kids it has been a good long stretch of shorts and bare feet, BBQs, swimming, and lazy afternoons avoiding the heat of the day. My eldest informed me that the forecast 26 degrees Celsius last week was "not that hot" as she had been getting upwards of 36 degrees on her holiday in Central Otago. By most of the worlds standards she would be right - 26 Celsius isn't all that hot. But when we consider that here in Dunedin, we tend to enjoy a far more moderate and temperate climate, and that we have had much lower than average rain fall this year, we can easily see the garden showing some signs of distress during the heat of the day. As does the gardener! So what can we do to help alleviate this stress?
Read the signs and understand what your plants are telling you.
Yellowing and browning leaves are a classic sign of stress - it can indicate that the plant is not receiving the nutrients it needs. Plants need water for cell development and growth, and to transport nutrients throughout the plant. If there is not adequate water in the soil or potting mix then these nutrients are no longer accessible and the plant starts to suffer.
Overly stressed plants can then become a target for insects and disease as we can see here on a juvenile Kaka Beak that has become home to leaf miner.
Pick your time to garden and water
On those white hot summer afternoons, when the sun is high in the sky and there is not a cloud to be seen you are probably best to take a short break from the gardening, at least until the heat of the day begins to wane. Not only is it physically more difficult on your body, but the plants are already struggling to retain their moisture. When we start disturbing the soil it allows even more of that precious moisture to escape. I find the best time to garden is early morning when things are still fresh and dewy. It is far easier to pull weeds from damp soil than from the hard dry baked stuff of afternoons. Once the weeds are removed, a thorough soaking with the hose will set the garden right to cope with any extreme temperatures. If you can't manage this in the morning - then the next best time is early evening.
Preserve your water and protect your soil
I have said it before but it is so important that it bears repeating - you must protect your soil from the elements if it is to stay healthy and alive. Particularly with productive food cropping gardens where we are removing the plants on a regular basis. When we remove these plants we are effectively removing their stored nutrients from the soil. Over time without replenishment this ground would struggle to support life adequately. We need to remember that organic matter must be replaced and soil must be covered to allow it to stay vital and well functioning. Soil that has a high level of organic matter, and a diverse community of organisms will retain moisture far more readily than an arid and lifeless patch of ground. Mother nature will continuously try to correct our wrongs and will send weeds up to do this job if necessary. Mulching is one of the easiest ways to achieve this, it keeps the weeds down longer and holds moisture better than an uncovered garden. Just remember that for best results you should weed first, then water well before adding the mulch.
The number one tip I have for gardeners in the summer is this: enjoy your garden!
We can get so caught up in the daily grind and lists of things to do that we sometimes forget to just stop, observe, breathe, and absorb, all the beautiful and wondrous things that gardening has to offer. What better time than in summer to sit back with a cold drink and enjoy what we have helped to create. In light of that here are a few photos of the lovely bits of colour to be found in my garden this month. Happy gardening!
We had a fantastic day hanging out at the Green Island Market Day this morning. We had the pleasure of meeting lots of happy new customers and we caught up with some familiar faces as well.
The weather was kind and the rain held off till after we got home and unloaded the van.
It was so great to see such a huge turn out from both the community and the stall holders - it certainly helped make the day fly by!
Our best seller of the day was as always the Lobelia Queen Victoria - our stocks of this plant are starting to run low so if you are thinking of getting one you best be in quick. We will have a few tomorrow at the Mistletoe Market being held at Knox Church (corner of George and Pitt Streets) from 2pm.
As always you are welcome to contact us between markets if there is something you would like - we are always happy to help.
Vertical Planter Stands
We had lots of interest in our vertical planter display this week. This is a great way for us to add a degree of height to our stall. It is also an excellent way to grow short term crops in a small space. We will custom make to your requirements - just send us an email with your dimensions and a brief description of style and we are happy to quote you a price.
This particular model would come with the boxes shown along with three more for the lower half of the frame. It is priced at $299. There is the potential for a similar model to be made cheaper if it is destined to be concreted in or fixed to a wall, as this requires less timber and hardware.
Extra customisation in the way of paint or staining is also available to be quoted on request, and feel free to enquire about our delivery and installation service.
The first of November was a bit of a milestone for us here at Goodlife Gardens. It marked the first anniversary of the beginning of the business. We wanted to celebrate and say thank you to our closest supporters - the friends and family that have listened to me talk in endless detail about the plans we have and the dream we are working on!
We were incredibly lucky with the weather and the day dawned fine. We had been working hard all week to tidy up the property and get the gardens to a point where they were worthy of inspection. The downside to spending my hours growing lovely plants for customers is that I am not always on task with my own garden - but I love it so there is no complaint! We concluded the day weary but incredibly fulfilled - it is an amazing thing to be able to do what I love and then to have it appreciated by so many is hugely gratifying. Again - an incredible thank you to all of you, and much respect to mother nature as I am really just the facilitator of her bounty!
Over the past year we have had the opportunity to meet and connect with many keen gardening folk. There are some wonderful people out there working away at improving their outdoor spaces, growing fabulous fruit and vegetables and generally promoting the less harmful ways of growing and gardening. We are very lucky to have them regularly pop by our stall at the market, or chat with us on Facebook. Some of these people I would like to introduce to you, as they have keen knowledge and like me they enjoy sharing their skills with the world.
I first came across Natalya in a group we are both members of, and she later introduced herself to us at market one weekend. She is vibrant and friendly and a firm believer in old ways and organic gardening. She offers her skills to the public at a fair rate, and you can hire her services if your garden is in need of some sorting out. Her blurb and contact link are as follows:
"Gardenessa: the art of growing organic food"Gardenessa is a small local business specialising in edible gardens.
Gardenessa could assist you with advice, set up of the veggie or herb patch and any maintenance work.
During the next two months, all new clients enjoy a special introductory rate of $25 per hour. Gardenessa also offers small gift herb pots for this holiday season.
More information is available at:
https://www.facebook.com/gardenessa/timeline or by phone: 027 741 2155.
Back Yard Farmer
This is a good page to follow on growing and preparing food, he is a dedicated breeder of Coturnix Quail and strives to develop strong healthy and clear genetic lines. A quote from his Facebook page and links follow:
"I believe that everyone with access to a back yard or community garden can produce most of their own food."
The Goodlife In Suburbia
This is a page that shares our taste in both gardening and naming! The Goodlife In Suburbia is another local page that is freely sharing their experiences in a residential garden. We are not connected in any way aside from our connection through our dedication to gardening. We have met and shared plants and I always enjoy reading of her efforts. I recommend you like her page and follow her too!
I hope you have a successful month in the garden. Remember to keep checking back regularly here and on our Facebook page. I shall update both as new plants come ready. And you can always find us at the Stadium Market on Sunday from 10am - 2pm.
This is perhaps the most common question that pops up when new customers meet us for the first time. I am a firm believer in the organic movement, I follow the theories of permaculture and use natural gardening processes wherever I can.
However, at this time, I use commercial potting mix, I feed my flowering ornamentals with commercial plant food, and I am not certified. But when it comes to anything that feeds us, the bees and pollinating insects, or directly affects the environment I draw the line. If there is another way around it I will not use spray. This means that at this time, all weeds are pulled by hand (no herbicides), and all insects are dealt with by manual means as much as possible (no pesticides). I even harvest rain water so as not to bombard my seedlings with the chlorine and fluoride that is present in our town water supply. All vegetable and herb seedlings are fed with fish and seaweed based liquid fertilisers rather than a commercially prepared chemical concoction.
I do incur some losses with this way of handling things, but by discarding the plants that are most affected by pest and disease, and by propagating from those that are not damaged I will hopefully get my stock to a point where such problems are less likely to occur. I hope that eventually Goodlife Gardens can achieve an organic certification but at this time and on this property, it is not currently an achievable option for us.
If you are looking to purchase a product (from anyone - not just us!) and wish to be sure it is actually organic - the best assurance you can have is to ask which body they are certified with. To be Certified Organic means they have been through a strict auditing process and both the property and the products used have been assessed for any issues that could negate their organic status. In NZ the main certification bodies are as follows:
It may not be the easiest way to do things - but the easiest way is not always the right way. Good things take time and if the result is a healthier environment and healthier plants, then that is all the motivation I need to continue down this path.
The Good Life - a television show familiar to those who grew up when there were only one or two TV channels. A story about an English couple who gave up paid employment to work the land and live self-sufficiently; in their suburban neighbourhood! The show inspired many people to try their hand at the back to basics lifestyle. It made enough of an impression on my young brain, to later inspire me to jump in and start our wee nursery business from our back yard, in the small city of Dunedin New Zealand. I had spent years wanting to move to the country and start growing for sale - but with kids at school in town, and Aaron in full-time employ we needed to stay put. So I made a conscious decision to work with what we had and now manage to grow enough plants to keep our market stall flourishing. Goodlife Gardens is living proof that you do not need a homestead, small-holding, lifestyle block, hobby farm, or whatever other name you choose to use for a larger than average piece of land. You really only need to give yourself permission to give it a go right where you are. I wish you good luck finding your own vision of The Good Life!
There are thousands of articles about composting on the internet. Many of them have very detailed 'how to' instructions on what not to do. In reality though, composting is no more difficult than following a recipe in the kitchen - easy as pie you might say!
During my horticulture studies I completed a unit on organics and part of this involved a detailed study of the bacterial and fungal processes that turn a pile of waste organic matter into that lovely rich black gold known as humus. I will not bore you with all the scientific descriptions here but I do have a step by step photo gallery that might help new composters to understand just how simple it is, and how to get the best results.
Basic rule of thumb states that anything once living can be composted. However I will add the proviso that if you put meat and dairy products in the compost; A) it can smell awful, and B) you may well end up with rats and mice moving in too - so if you live in the city this may not be a great idea! Many articles claim that onion and citrus should be kept out but I routinely compost both and have no ill effect. Some things such as onion peel and corn cobs can take a long time to break down and may need to go through the process more than once.
With that said - here are the pics!
Small is good!
Composting is most efficient when the ingredients are smaller, so you should roughly chop the material before building your pile. Especially the big thick stems of vegetables such as cabbage and cauli etc. They do take a very long time to break down, but this is shortened by making the pieces smaller. They don't have to be tiny - just don't be throwing whole cabbages in there!
Even mix of 'green' and 'brown'
To stop the compost pile turning slimy and stinky, you need to make sure to have a good even mix of green and brown. For those not sure - green is the leafy green garden waste, kitchen scraps, coffee grounds, lawn clippings etc, while brown could be cardboard and non shiny paper, dead leaves, shredded branches and bark, egg cartons, remember to shred and chop to maintain even composting. Many people use a compost bin simply as a collection/storage bin for waste, and that is fine, it will break down eventually - but to make sure you get really good results it is best to gather up enough waste to fill the bin in one go. This allows it to get hot enough to efficiently compost without wasting all those good nutrients.
If it goes wrong......
This barrow load is from one of those black composting bins that you can get cheap - it didn't get enough air throughout the process so ended up a smelly rancid nasty mess. So as not to have it wasted, I mixed it evenly with the appropriate 'proper' composting ingredients and it all ended up beautiful - so do not despair if your first attempts do not go according to plan.
Let it breathe!
Mixing all the different ingredients evenly will help to ensure that the pile gets enough air - compost needs air and moisture to work. You can see that my compost bins have open slats that allow air in - and although we do cover it with a tarp (the lid is a work in progress!) some rain does get in.
Just add water!
You need to check the moisture levels from time to time. A good compost pile will be moist - damp but not dripping. Best way to check is to take a handful and squeeze it in your hand. It should leave moisture in your hand but water should not run from it. For the squeamish - you can wear gloves!
I have a soil thermometer to monitor my compost - it isn't particularly accurate but you can see here that the needle is reading well off the available scale. This is an excellent indication that the bacterial processes are taking place. Your compost should feel hot for several days once it starts working.
Turn, turn, turn.
When you compost has been cooking for a couple of weeks it could be in need of more air - so a gentle turn with a fork is a good idea. This allows more air pockets to be incorporated and you can assess whether more water is needed at this time.
After 2-3 months you should start to see something resembling compost, rather than a pile of waste! A stable compost is finished when it no longer heats up when stirred, and looks like good garden additive rather than breaking down scraps. By 6 months It should be perfect to go on the garden, although if you have new plants and seedlings you may wish to be careful in case there is still some heat. No point burning them when you are trying to do them some good!
This is a very basic description of what happens, but it should hopefully get you started on the road to being a home grown composter! Any questions you may have - message me via our Facebook page or send me an email and I shall try to help as best I can. It truly is one of the best things you can do for your garden and it means you don't have to take all that garden waste off-site - you can process it yourself and end up all the richer for it!
Happy Gardening Folks!
Our first day back at the Stadium Market went really well. Our fellow stallholders were welcoming as always and we had many new and returning customers to talk to on the day! A great start to what will hopefully be a season of good growth.
We still have a good supply of basic landscaping plants, and each week we see more of the vegetable seedlings and herbs ready to come to the table.
September is a great time to get your vegetable garden in to ensure you get the longest growing season possible. Do be aware that we can still get a lot of erratic weather in Dunedin over the next month or two - so the use of frost cloth, cloches, windbreak and clear plastic shelters are all good options to protect your fragile plants.
When using frost cloth or other protective material, it is ideal to have it suspended over the plants so as not to flatten the tender stems. Also do make sure to lift it away when the sun is out so the plants can get all the sunshine they need. If the plants are struggling to find adequate light, they will become stretched and sappy and unable to support their own weight. This will also invite other detrimental issues such as disease and infestation.
After planting out the young seedlings, water them in gently and from around the base as best you can. Even gentle watering can sometimes flatten a baby plant so breath deep, and take your time - it is worth it to spend an extra few minutes to do this properly. Check your plants each day for any sign of nibbling - you may want to protect them from slugs and snails at this stage. A hungry critter can demolish these young tasty morsels in pretty short time.
Possibly the most important piece of advice I have for newbie vegetable growers is - plant what you will eat! While it is very exciting to try all the many wonderful varieties of vegetables, on your first go I recommend planting vegetables that you are familiar with as this will help you to identify when they may be ready to harvest. Once you are comfortable with the growing process then is the time to fire ahead and experiment with more. And lastly - if you have kids - get them involved! It is a great way for families to grow and learn, and it is good for a child's health to get their hands in the soil. Even better for them to know a little something about where their food comes from.
So - to practice what I preach - I'd best grab my kids and head outside. We have two trays of seedlings to get in the ground. Come see us on Sunday and get some for yourself!
I'm Kimberley, and I live in the beautiful South Island of New Zealand. I am very passionate about growing strong healthy plants that enrich us and our environment. Welcome to my place - feel free to look around!