Keep you friends close… and your water closer.

Historically I have been absolutely terrible with keeping plants in pots and containers.   There is so much pleasure and joy found tending the garden that I seem to run out of time for the small pot bound plants, not as in out grown with encircled roots, but bound as in confined without the freedom of sending their roots off at will in a direction that will bring them much needed moisture and nutrients.

Gardena Terrace Hose Box

Water is the key to life and even more so for potted plants.

These poor plants sit on the sidelines of the garden and watch the stars of the show go from strength to strength creating a bountiful harvest and hold their heads up high to the sun with a glimmer of pride bouncing off their radiant green leaves.  In comparison the potted crew hang their heads in sadness and disappointment at their lot, as they wilt in the midday sun. Occasionally I remember them and have given them a place in my weekly schedule.  I even put them in the Monday slot to increase the chances of quality care.  Putting them down for a bit of Friday love would doom them!


The poor peppers are in desperate need of care. They look healthy enough, but with all of the fruit they are putting out, I think it wouldn’t take much for them to go downhill in a dramatic fashion

However, as the summer heats up and the harvest from the main garden begins in earnest, even a prominent spot in the schedule doesn’t save them and they normally expire alone and neglected in a weedy corner of the garden after hearing “I’m so sorry, I’ll get to you soon…” one too many times.  I feel horribly guilty as I clearly have to admit I love the independent free thinking plants a touch more than the needier, high maintenance containerised ones.

strawberry plants

Plants in the ground just do so much better without much help. These strawberries are much more lush than the ones in pots.

The thing is – if I’m honest, the Monday thing probably isn’t enough.  Plants in small pots can dry out in an afternoon in the right conditions!  Any attempt at growing will result in depleted nutrients in the soil that was once a rich blend of everything a plant could want to grow well.  Then like baby birds in a nest, they look hopefully to me for a bite to eat each time I go passed.  Maybe they do need to make noise.

(On a side note I once bought my Mum a bird shaped pot plant water detector that would chirp loudly if the pot got low on moisture. It was all very cute and she loved it….  Until it went off at 3am!  I slipped further down the list of favourite child that night.)

With the horror of all this carnage behind me, this season I am trying so hard to keep these wee ones alive, because I want to take them with me to the new place.  I have a couple of Giant Pumpkins that need to do well as I’m in the Giant Pumpkin competition again and I just have to do better than the dismal 1kg I had last year.   Then there are about 60 strawberry runners I have an emotional attachment to – they are all the progeny of the first 6 strawberry plants I ever grew when we were city bound.  Back in those days it was much easier to manage a large pot of strawberries by itself.


Strawberries are the taste of summer and therefore a garden essential

I also have a collection of raspberry plants that I put a lot of research into and then searched far and wide for just the right ones and were never planted.  They weren’t cheap so they are coming too.   I also have peppers as the harvest doesn’t really kick in until early next year and the spot they should be going into still has stuff in it anyway so we’d still be waiting about to plant them anyway.


Having said that, raspberries are also an important taste of summer.

Oh and we can’t forget the asparagus.  Without any preconceived ideas, last autumn I started off a load of asparagus seeds, not knowing I would actually need them – I did it more because I could.   Now I am doing my best to keep these treasures alive and they will find a home with us beside the sea.   You can’t waste a moment of time with asparagus as they take so long to establish and having eaten fresh asparagus and realised how wonderful they are, I wouldn’t be without them!  I also have a motley collection of other bits and bobs.


Hang in there wee asparagus seedlings – you will have a place to call your own soon enough.

Keeping them not only alive but well has proved interesting.  But we’ve had a lot on – more than just the garden this season, and there are probably 10x more of them, so their collective yell of “feed me” is noticed.

I have taken the matter more seriously.  There is a greater priority.  These are the pioneers and founding fathers of the new garden so to speak.  And we need to make the journey to settling in the new land as least traumatic as possible.  I have invested in these plants.   I went out and purchased a load of ‘underbed’ storage containers because they are low, and wide and perfect for plants.  Then I filled them as tightly as I could without creating bad airflow problems and positioned them near the tap.   They were down by the greenhouse and it was a case of out of sight out of mind, but now they are up on the deck for all to see.

Gardena Terrace Hose Box

You have to make things easy for yourself when in busy times. Having my Gardena Terrace Hose Box right beside my plants increases their chances of survival by about 1 million percent

My new Terrace Hose Box is perfect for the job, as I can easily reach all of the plants without having to drag the long hose over from the garden.  I can tell you now if I had to go to serious effort to get something done during this crazy stage of our life, it won’t get done.  Having a short hose on a reel right where I need it is such a blessing.  I could even ask someone else to give them a squirt as they wandered by.    This may even be a handy technique if we need a minder – they wouldn’t need to come every day and you could tell them to fill the ‘underbed’ storage container to a certain level.   Why didn’t I think of this before?

And with that – my potted plants will be the best they have ever been, but just being alive at this stage is a win.

Come again soon – there is so much excitement to be had I don’t know where to start.

Sarah the Gardener  : o)

NB:  Check with your local council before watering your garden to see if there are any water restrictions this summer.


And…  Sold

If you had told me nine weeks ago that I would willingly give up my garden I would have told you that you were lying.  I spent a long time dreaming and planning for this season.  I have tomatoes from A to Z.  My spuds, planted lovingly in September, aren’t due out until March.  And don’t get me started on the sweetcorn.  I was not intending on moving anywhere as I entered this new growing season.


And just like that our little world has been turned upside down.

But here I am just a week short of two months since the last frost day and there appears to be a rather large SOLD sign at the front of my house!  Things have moved extremely quickly, and I’m pleased to say the lovely new owners want to use the garden to the full.  That for me is a huge relief as there was the possibility that someone would just rip it all out and put in a pool or large deck or something.  I worried all my hard work would just disappear… return to the earth unnoticed and neglected.

Coastal property

This looks like a good spot for dreams to come true.

But it had to be something amazing that would make me hand over my garden to someone else, and indeed it is something pretty amazing.  I will continue to garden at the new place, but I will be starting completely from scratch as there is absolutely nothing there except a whole load of wonderfulness and endless possibilities.   I can’t wait to get stuck in.

Come again soon – 2018 is going to be a very interesting year.

Sarah the Gardener  : o)

The B word.

And it isn’t Bug-ger.  Although this is the sentiment of the situation.  You just can’t win with the weather.  This year can easily be described with soggy soggy soggy soggy dry.   And not just any dry, but the one tinged with humidity but no useful moisture. Perfect conditions for a bit of Blight in my spuds!

Potato plants

This may look like a healthy crops of spuds, but on closer inspection – something is wrong… or is it?

Really.  I have been dreaming of a long hot summer for ages and then when one comes along is brings this with it.  This isn’t how it was supposed to happen.  It was supposed to be that magical season where all grows well and we have a bumper crop and a fabulous time in the garden.  It went straight from wet to dry without so much as taking a breath.  I promised myself – foolishly it would seem, that if we had a drought I wouldn’t complain.  So as water restrictions are reaching out across the country I will hold my tongue and honour my word.  I won’t complain about the lack of rain and the heat and still muggy nights making sleep impossible.

Severe treatment for a potato problem

Severe treatment for a potato problem. I guess it has good airflow now….

But I didn’t say I wouldn’t complain about the effects of this kind of weather and to be honest I am really not happy with this new situation in the form of blight.  It is my Heather and my Illam Hardy.  It is just early days so I’ll give them a haircut and a spray – gosh it sounds like they are getting all made up for some fancy Christmas doo, but to be honest I’ll do what it takes to save the crop!

Green tomato

You gotta do what you gotta do to protect these babies!

It is still quite early days for these poor plants so there is the chance new unblemished leaves could form after the haircut.  At this point I’m up for anything thing that will redeem the situation.  If its not one thing, it is another.

Hydrating pots

It is so hot, I feel like I’m rehydrating my pots this way more often than not.

On closer inspection it appeared all of the potatoes had a touch of the blight.  So taking no chances I chopped them all back.  It was the last thing I did in the garden and washed my tools in bleach and changed my clothes so I wouldn’t share the blight with the tomatoes.  I would cry if that happened.  Because of the dry there is a fire ban which means I am robbed of the satisfaction of seeing this dreadful disaster go up in flames.  So I’m left with taking the blemished leaves far far far away.


Surprisingly not my worst garlic harvest… all things considered!

 We are a few weeks short of putting the rusty garlic behind us.  I just want to pull it up and move on and pretend this orangeness was never there.  I worked so hard to try and stay on top of it this season but it seems to have just mocked me.   I dug up one row as it was looking terrible and to be honest the harvest was a bit MEH.  I took a sneak one out of another row and I’m pleased to see there is still hope.  A few weeks can make all the difference to what is going on underground.


It isn’t all bad across the garden, I have cucumbers! yay.

It isn’t all doom and gloom – somethings in the garden are enjoying the conditions and if I turn a blind eye I can still be proud.

Come again soon – I may be about to start a disease collection if these conditions keep up – not that I want to.

Sarah the Gardener  : o)

NOTE:  always get an expert opinion BEFORE doing anything drastic in your garden. As I was reviewing the photos I thought – Hang on that doesn’t actually look like blight. So I spoke to my expert horticulturist and he agreed – it didn’t look like blight.  He said  “It doesn’t look fungal, the plants look(ed) healthy with no blackening or necrosis of the stems and the damage was not concentric or rounded. Bit of a mystery really.” And wished me a good weekend.

spots on potato

If anyone can tell me what this is I’d be grateful.

So it isn’t blight, but it didn’t look good, so in a way I’m pleased a removed a potential risk to my tomatoes from my garden.  Tomatoes are way more exciting than potatoes. But Bug-ger.   If any one knows what it is I’d be grateful to know I’d done the right thing!

Flowers and Gardens

After much anticipation, I left my country garden and headed into the big city to check out the NZ Flower and Garden Show.  There hasn’t been a garden show on this scale here for a few years, but it takes more than an earthquake and a few soggy seasons to keep good gardeners from gardening.  It was a delight and a pleasure to see such creativity on a grand scale.  If these amazing gardens can be whipped up in such a short space of time, it gives me confidence that when we head to the coast, making something of the rugged landscape isn’t out of the realms of possibility.

I was fortunate enough to be invited by the lovely team at Gardena to join them on their stand and also get the chance to explore the show and see all the wonders for myself.  The tricky part was my invitation was for the last day of the show and so for an entire week before my visit my social media was flooded with amazing imagery from the event.  I had to decide if I wanted to indulge in this feast of horticultural gorgeousness that surrounded me at every turn, or would it spoil it for me and take away the element of wonder upon seeing things first hand on the day.   I decided photos would never do it justice and decided to use all of my self-control and restraint and waited patiently for the real thing.

And I was so pleased I did.  The day was incredible. The sun beat down from the blue sky above and the gardens, even after a week, looked fresh and inviting.  There were elements of all of them I enjoyed and wondered how I could work them into the new place.   I am allowing myself a little space to dream, but not to plan.  Things could still become undone at this stage.  However, going to an event like this, while on the verge of something new and exciting, I found myself more open to possibilities that I wouldn’t otherwise be.  My current garden is what it is, and I like it that way.  The new garden could be anything I want it to be.

Most of the gardens incorporated some kind of water feature, a stream, a pool, a waterfall or fountain and in the heat of the day it was just what any good garden should have.  Just standing beside a garden and listening to the water was enough to feel fresh and alive when moments ago I was wilting.  I need a water feature in the new garden and I’m spoilt for choice for inspiration.

My eye was drawn to the little details that had gone into, not only the display gardens but into the multitude of stands.  I do have to say, while the flower side of things was absolutely incredible and the scent in that area of the show was heady, I found my main interest lay elsewhere.  I’m just not that good with flowers.  The extent of my flower arranging is to bung them in the nearest container and more often that not it is a jam jar.  I am full of admiration for what they can do, but it does show up my inadequacies.  Maybe next time I should pay more attention to this brilliant art form.

Much to my delight there was plenty of vegetable growing going on.  Now this is where I feel at home and can appreciate the effort and energy required to put together a garden of the calibre seen at the show.  It is hard enough getting an ordinary garden to look fabulous without the palaver of getting it looking perfect in a temporary situation in baking hot conditions.  The school gardens were most impressive, and it was great to see growing food is in revival among the next generation.   We all have a responsibility to ensure this life skill survives into the future.  For many it is just a hobby, but it is a life skill nonetheless.

It was an absolute pleasure to have been able to attend this show and thanks to Gardena for inviting me.  It was a lovely experience to be able to chat with other gardeners and talk about the finer points of the tools of the trade.  Gardening can be a solitary thing, so it is nice to come together and just soak it all in.

Come again soon – Summer is here, and it is a little hot – not that I’m one to complain.

Sarah the Gardener : o)


Everything is changing, but for now it stays the same.  It is a really weird time where we know what we want but have absolutely no control over it.  All it takes is one person to buy the house.  We’ve had a bit of interest, but in the meantime all that can be done is to carry on.  And the garden is doing just that.  It feels like the rainbow beet has quadrupled in size in a week!

Rainbow Beet

This Rainbow Beet is so luscious – I’m sure it was just a tiny seedling a blink of an eye ago.

So taking a lead from the garden I am still out there every day giving the garden all the love I possibly could and it is flourishing.  I’ve harvested my Hunter River White Onions.  It wasn’t my best harvest, but as they don’t keep as well as the Pukekohe Longkeepers, that still have a while to go yet, I’m not to worried about it.

Onion patch

And this is where the onions were. The Pukekohe Longkeepers still have a while to go but seem to be bulbing up nicely.

I also took a trip down to the orchard to harvest some elderberries to make some elderberry cordial.  I followed the vague recipe from my blog post back in 2015, and it still works and it rather entertaining so there isn’t really a lot of point repeating myself when I can point you to that one: >HERE<

Elderflower cordial

This elderflower cordial will make Christmas magic.

I’ve also repotted my peppers into bigger pots to take with me when we move, because these really don’t get going until well into January and we use a lot of these in our winter cooking so I they’re coming with us.

Peppers in pots

So far this is the only change being made. I’m trying hard not to get emotionally attached to the new until we know it is a done deal!

You can see all of this in live video action – well not actually live, because it was yesterday, but I filmed it all as I needed to explain to our friends in the You Tube community what was happening.  Especially as you lovely people have known for ages!  So feel free to watch some gardening action, check out the orchard and just hang out with me in the garden for a bit.  There is even talk of pickled asparagus.

Come again soon – there is still plenty of ordinary in the midst of change.

Sarah the Gardener  : o)


Final Stages of Spring

With less than a week left of spring, it is pretty much safe to say the garden is all but done.  There are a few bits and pieces left to do, like sort out the flowers – but they don’t really count and only one of the Cannellino beans came up and that just won’t do.  You can’t survive the winter on the heart-warming minestrone soups with the nutty taste of a cannollino bean from the produce of just one plant.  So, I have to poke a few extra seeds in.  Aside from these simple tasks, the garden can be called done.

Corn seedlings

And with the planting of the corn comes a sigh of relief – the garden is in!

It is a satisfying feeling to wander among the beds and see the plants really begin to come into their own and begin to fill the space.  In particular the corn bed.  Those poor seedlings have been waiting quite some time to be liberated from their small pots.  And with their planting the garden can be called done.


Now the garden is sorted I can turn my attention to the plants that are destined to spend the foreseeable future in pots.

The herb bed is looking lush as the annuals make themselves at home among the permanent residents.  I should probably pop in a few coriander seeds as the others will go to seed soon as this temperature rises.

The leafy greens and cucumbers, zucchini and pumpkins have noticeably grown in the last week alone.  Before we know it, the cucumbers and gherkins will scramble up the netting, like the peas have done.  It is amazing how tall the tall peas can get.  It won’t be long before there will be peas there – possibly for Christmas.

Take care of small weeds with a good forK

As soon as you turn your back, small weeds quickly appear and in no time will be big weeds and a big job. Dragging a good fork through the soil surface uproots these tiny weeds and also prevents a sun baked hardening of the surface of the soil, which can make it difficult for water to penetrate deep down. And it is a quick job that only takes a moment.

The early Hunter River White Onions are beginning to fall over, meaning they are ready, and the Pukekohe Longkeepers are bulbing up nicely.  The garlic still has rust, and I’m at the point where I’m just going to live with it until the bitter end and hope for the best.  It seems like a race, as early one variety looked like it was doing well, only to be surpassed by another.  The proof will be in the harvest, so I will reserve judgement until the sorry day when I dig it up.

Tying in Tomatoes

It is important to be careful when tying in tomatoes – use a soft tie for the job so it won’t cut into the stem. I also twist if a couple of times between the stem and wire to avoid rubbing.

The tomatoes are now tall enough to tie into the first rung.  It really feels like they are no longer babies and are independently heading off to preschool, and bringing me home flowers to be proud of.  Although this metaphor doesn’t really work well as they aren’t really expressing their independence as I am restraining them to a wire so they will do what I want them to do.

Cutting straw for mulch

I maybe crazy but after several seasons of doing this – these snips are the best tool for the job that I have found so far!

The wheat I harvested out of the now zucchini bed has dried nicely and I’ve been chopping it into manageable lengths so I can position it easily around the strawberries.  This is no mean feat and I have had to break it up into short periods, because I’m doing it in the greenhouse as that is where all the wheat is, and it gets pretty hot in there.  And the other thing,  I am so grateful for the right tool for the job.  I’ve done this before with secateurs, but as the bottom blade isn’t so much a blade, but in this instance a ‘mashing’ tool.  It gets the job done, but not well.  Ordinary scissors work well but when used repetitively to open and close the blade can lead to a bit of an ache in the hand.  My favourite ones come as part of a Gardena Garden Tool Kit and have a satisfying snip and an amazing little spring between the blades taking the effort out of my hands.  Then of course we have to remember that I am probably the only gardener crazy enough to manually cut up 5 square metres of straw mulch to please my strawberries.

Mulched Strawberries

The strawberries look cosy with their new mulch and we should get clean strawberries from now on that don’t require wiping on your shirt before popping them in your mouth.

Now I can take my mind off the garden itself my focus has shifted to my plants in pots.  I have way more of these than I normally do.  But because we will be moving, I want to be able to see the harvest from certain crops, so they have found their way into containers, so they can come with me to the new place.  They don’t take up much room right now, but need to be transferred into bigger pots so they can comfortably see out the season. Container plants require a lot of extra attention, compared to in ground plants.  They are completely dependent on me for food and water.  Historically I haven’t been good at this and most container plants end up in a withered sorry state, and barely make it to the end of the season, before expiring of neglect.  But these ones are supposed to be keepers so I have to lift my game.

Gardena Garden Tool Kit

With an empty greenhouse, all the activity of the last few months has come to an end and all that is left is to clean up.

There is a bizarre sense of completion at this early stage of the garden’s life.  As I look around and see order and control across the garden, a few areas call my attention.  All that is really left for me to do aside from weeding, watering and regular feeding, is start the end of season spring clean.  I need to wash all the pots, tidy the shed where the detritus of spring has been carelessly discarded, with the good intentions of sorting it out later.  The greenhouse is completely bare now and devoid of plants.  It is too hot in there now for plants to thrive, and besides outside is more than adequate for the things I have growing on.  So all that is left to do in there is to sweep it up.

Come again soon – there is still plenty to do as we move into summer – just different to what I’ve been doing up until now.

Sarah the Gardener  : o)

New cordial from old strawberries

It might sound sacrilegious this early in the season, but I found myself with a rather large bowl of strawberries in the back of the fridge. I had harvested a mountain of berries before heading out for the evening and with the intention of doing something with them the next day, like slicing them with my egg slicers and marinating them in mint and a sprinkle of sugar to go over ice cream.  But the next day came and went, I got busy and completely forgot about them.


Not the most glamorous bowl of strawberries

On rediscovering them in the back of the fridge, they had just passed that moment of being a delight to eat as you bite into fresh, firm, juicy strawberry goodness, and were now a bit soft and – not wanting to insult a fine fruit, but they were a bit rubbery.  But all that strawberry deliciousness was still trapped inside and crying out for some kind of treatment that would not only render them edible but amazing as well.

Add water to the berries

Add water to the berries

The logical choice is jam, and there was enough to make maybe a half dozen jars of ruby red gorgeousness that would have gone perfectly with a well baked scone and a big blob of whipped cream.  However our cupboard is still a bit chockka with jam from last season and it isn’t the kind of thing I want the kids to ‘hurry up and eat’ so I can make room for more.  Veggies in the freezer – yes.  Jam in the cupboard – no.

Bring to the boil

Bring to the boil

In a deep and meaningful discussion with Hubby the Un-Gardener we decided to look ahead towards Christmas and create a strawberry cordial to lace our Christmas day bubbly with.  I can almost taste it now, which is now a tad frustrating as I have to wait over a month to release that essence of redeemed berry as pride of place on the festive table.

Strain the berry mixture

After adding the sugar and lemon juice, strain the mixture through cheesecloth or a jelly bag.

It is quite an easy recipe and well worth it.   I had 700 grams of berries, and got 1 litre of cordial and some pulpy loveliness that may go well dehydrated, frozen or poured over ice cream – I have yet to decide.   So I’ll knock the recipe back to 100 grams of strawberries so it is easier to adjust.

Don't squeeze the bag

Don’t squeeze the bag – unless you wan’t every last drop and don’t mind it a bit cloudy.

  • Take 100g of strawberries and remove the stalks and wash.
  • Put in a pot with 100g of water and bring to the boil.
  • Mash or blitz – I blitzed because I didn’t want to lose a drop of goodness.
  • Leave to cool
  • Add 100g sugar and the juice of a lemon and dissolve the sugar.
  • Strain through a Jelly bag. If you squeeze it – it will be cloudy.  I have to confess I squeezed the bag once I got the first litre off – so I had enough to fill another bottle – albeit a small bottle because I didn’t want to miss a morsel.
  • Pour into sterile bottles.
  • The high sugar content will help preserve it but if you want to keep it for a longer period then you may want to further process it in your favourite way.
Strawberry cordial

And now we wait. This will be a delight to enjoy on Christmas day.

Come again soon – the sun has been shining and the garden has been calling to me to come out and play.

Sarah the Gardener  : o)

Black and white

This week, to distract myself from the chaos in my world right now, I took part in the 7 day black and white challenge on my personal Facebook page.  But once it was complete and I saw the collection I though I just had to share it here.  The rules were:  7 Days, 7 photos of my life in black and white. No people. No explanations. 1 nomination a day.

So without any further words – this was my week.








Come again soon – there are still loads of little jobs about the garden that need tending to.

Sarah the Gardener : o)



For Sale:  Much loved garden…  with house attached.

This is a bitter sweet moment for me.  I love my garden, but life has a habit of creating change.

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Ten years ago we were living in the heart of Auckland city with a tiny house – the perfect kind for the first rung on the property ladder.  We had two tiny boys and I was recently diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.  We decided we couldn’t stay there, it made sense to move.  And so, with nervous trepidation we sold up and moved to the country.

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This property ticked everything on the wish list – flat land for a garden, a big enough house for the boys to grow into, great water pressure, its own water supply and so much more.  We felt so grown up moving to a home with a ensuite bathroom and walk in wardrobe.  The only thing it didn’t have was the sea views that Hubby the Un-Gardener has longed for since before I even knew him.  But there were dolphin tiles in the bathroom and that was a good enough sea view for me so I ticked that box too!  We have since renovated the bathroom to a more modern style and so the ‘sea view’ was erased.  To satisfy Hubby the Un-Gardeners wants from life I agreed we would look at moving again in 10 years to a more coastal property.

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But I didn’t know then what I know now, I had no idea how my garden would grow and become part of my life story.  Like the miller’s daughter in the fairy story Rumpelstiltskin, I quickly forgot my promise and time is up and Hubby the Un-Gardener has reminded me of it and I have to give up my garden.    I love my garden beyond measure.  I love that it has provided me with wonderful food – some things I never knew existed, others I never want to try again.  It has helped to restore my health, through a good fresh whole food diet, good exercise, being in the sun absorbing all the vitamin D that is healing to an MSsy body.  But is also gave me a career where one wasn’t possible in the ordinary sense.  Because of the garden I have written three books and won an award as a public speaker.  I’ve been on radio and TV numerous times. A career as a garden writer fits in so nicely around everything I have going on.  Back then I would have never seen it coming.

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The garden has humbly grown from a few small in ground beds to 36 well organised raised beds that are completely sustainable for our family to meet our vegetable needs.  We eat like kings.  I have found a way to manage such a large garden with minimal effort, and Hubby the Un-Gardener helping with the digging and heavy lifting.

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The house itself has served us well, and I love living here.  But a promise is a promise and with much reluctance, our house was listed on the market today.   I am extremely grateful for the wonderful photos and drone videos taken of the property for the marketing of it.  It is something I will always have – a moment in time when my garden was looking its absolute best after 10 years hard work.


But in the words of that great song Closing Time by Semisonic, “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”  And there will be a new beginning – a new garden.  An even better garden, built on the experiences of this garden, all the “I wish I’d done that differently” will be rectified.  It will be magnificent, and I’d love to take you with me into this new journey.  I can’t say much about the new until we sell the old, but hopefully that will be very soon.


Come again soon – I’ll keep you updated as we ride this emotionally challenging wave down to the coast, but in the meantime we will garden on until the last possible moment.

Sarah the Gardener  : o)

Check out here to view the listing and video: Someone will be very happy here, just like we have been.

You can’t beat a good mulch

Sometimes you know you need something, but just can’t have it.   So you try your best to make do and manage with what you can, but once you get your hands on something of quality then nothing else will do and then you make a way.   This could apply to many things in the garden and the amount of times I’m made do with inferior tools only to find expensive things cost more for a reason – they are just better and don’t break as easily and the job at hand is more pleasurable to do and is less of a struggle.  Spending a bit more on something long term like a good spade or a stronger greenhouse makes sense.  They will last a long time and you enjoy taking care of them because they cost so much, but they become like old friends that you wouldn’t want to be without.

Straw mulch

Growing wheat over the winter can provide interest from the landscape point of view – it can also provide interest for Fennel the Cat.  

But there are other things in the garden that can put demands on the purse strings and for the less tangible it seems difficult to justify spending much on what can seem like a temporary item, especially when you need a lot of it.   This is my problem with mulch.

I understand the benefits of mulch – it keeps the weeds down and locks in the moisture, and the right mulch can add organic material back to the soil and help improve the long term health of the garden.  But….  When you have a garden as big as mine it is all very well in theory.   So I’ve been a little creative in the past.

Pea straw mulch

The pea straw mulch is a bit thin on the ground.

I paid a lot of money for a big bag of pea straw that was as light as a feather – but I was desperate – I wanted to mulch my garlic to help prevent the rust fungal spores from splashing up from the soil onto my plants.  It didn’t work – my mulch wasn’t thick enough and I didn’t like it enough for my wallet to like it enough too!  Several months down the track the pea straw is really thin on the ground, much has blown away and it is looking a tad threadbare as the earth pokes through in more places than are generously covered.

Asparagus mulch

In hindsight I’m not sure mulching the asparagus with itself was a good idea… it did keep the weeds down though.

I mulched the asparagus with its own trimmings in the winter, and it must have worked as the beds stayed weed free… well mostly, there were one or two.  Although I still wonder if it is wise to mulch something with itself, in case there were pests or diseases hanging in there. What if all I’ve done is given them a nice place to live over the winter, close to their favourite food joint?

Straw mulch

The strawberries will love this mulch

I grow my own wheat from the chicken food – not for the wheat, but for the straw – to go under my strawberries.  This works well as it keeps a bed active over the winter like a cover crop, gives a nice view of something green when not a lot else is growing, and well, it just seems like the right thing to do to mulch strawberries with straw.

Christmas tree mulch

The Christmas tree makes an excellent mulch for the blueberries

I even use the old Christmas tree to mulch my blueberries!  They seem to really like that, judging by the amount of berries fattening up on the bushes this season.

Fiber Earth Mulch

Fiber Earth Mulch has a feel that you know it has to be good for the garden

So when I was approached by the good people at Fiber Earth to see if I wanted to try out a bag of their new Lucerne mulch I jumped at the chance.   I wasn’t sure how far a bag would go in my huge garden, but some mulch was better than no mulch.   Opening the bag revealed a couple of surprises.  Firstly – the bag was sealed in a way that upon opening changed it from a dense solid block to a mountain of fluffy mulch.  Fortunately I opened it in my wee trolley that I had used to drag the bag into the garden, so I didn’t lose a drop.

Fiber Earth Mulch

The mulch goes down so easily

The second thing was it was light, soft and fluffy and had a lovely sweet scent from the fermentation process.  You could just tell it was going to be good for the garden.  It went down on to the garden so easily and once in place it stayed in place.  I carefully mulched around the onions in the main garden and then stood back and did nothing for months.  There was nothing to weed and the onions grew steadily in their cosy mulched bed.

Mulchless onions

My Mulchless onions haven’t fared as well.

The mulchless onions in my overflow bed unfortunately didn’t benefit from the same treatment, and comparing the two – I think they flew into a jealous rage.  They don’t seem to have thrived as well – they certainly aren’t as advanced as the other onions and they have been on the weeding schedule as there have been all manner of interloper trying to claim squatters rights in that bed.


And now I have some big fat onions almost ready to be harvested.

So once again sometimes, somethings benefit from having the right product for the job, and I am extremely grateful to Fibre Earth for drawing my attention to something I had been looking for, for a long time, but never found anything that worked how I wanted it to.  I think this will be a must have in my garden from now on and my soil will thank me for it.

Come again soon – now the garden is in control, mostly, I can focus on other things.

Sarah the Gardener  : o)

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