Im not a gardener. Like most of us Im sure, Ive always dreamed of that house with a beautiful garden full of lovely flowers and fruit trees and a majestic veggie patch which fed us all year from the abundance of produce. But to be truthful, its not something that I really enjoy - I don’t know if its because I'm inherently lazy or whether its just because its backbreakingly hard dirty work. So probably at this stage the dream will probably stay a dream. Im hoping that one day I will see the light and become a green fingered enthusiast.
However, it doesn't mean to say that I don’t grow anything. For the last 6 months or so, we have been completely self sufficient when it comes to salad. I buy the small plants - $3.50 for a tray of 6 well established seedlings, which consists of perhaps lettuce, rocket, mizuna, mustard greens, bok choi, beets amongst many other seedlings - from Murray and Rob from Heirloom Organix at the Parnell Farmers Market. They have an amazing array of the healthiest looking plants, seedlings and micro greens that you will ever see and are totally dedicated to their work and getting good organic produce out there. They do all the hard work for you so you literally just pop them in the soil and watch them grow. Because they are such good quality and with the temperate climate in Auckland most of the time the seedlings just pop up and you can harvest them in about 6 weeks. The pleasure of being able to pick your own homegrown food every day is worth the little bit of hard work to plant - even I can manage that. All I need to do is to keep replenishing the plants so that I have a continuous supply on the go. They also sell great organic fertilisers so that you can feed your crop and keep the soil healthy.
I was lucky enough to have a friend who made us some raised beds which we have just by our front door. They are lined with polythene and then filled with bags of organic soil from a good garden centre. We have a couple of those and also a wonderful green planting box called Green Smart which came from the Ecostore. You can plant herbs or salad and rather than watering straight on to the plant it has a clever water refill tube that keeps it well watered from underneath, which means that if you fill to the maximum level it will retain enough water if you are away for up to a week in peak summer. You can grow a huge amount in pots too, especially herbs which are such a good base for a salad or to use in cooking. We have a good selection up and running now - basil, thyme, oregano, coriander, parsley, rosemary
All the Farmers Markets that I have been to around the city and in the country have growers with seedlings ready to plant. It really is as simple as getting some pots together or a small patch of garden to plop in your plants. And such an economical way of having your own freshly picked organic salad and herbs. The nutrient quality is so much greater than buying produce from the shops which could have been transported for days before reaching their destination and therefore losing most of their nutrient value. I discussed all of the importance of supporting your local Farmers Markets for this very reason in my last blog.
If you can’t get to a Farmers Market you can always buy seedlings on line or from store suppliers. Have a look at Heirloom Organix website www.organicseedlings.co.nz Happy growing!!