Ewen's garden

A collection of columns, paintings and photographs about gardening on an offshore island in New Zealand.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Common Coral Tree Posted by Hello


There I was thinking I had put my vegetable garden to bed for the summer, and then the rain came and came and came! So, with a full water tank I decided to fill my garden once again with vegetables. I was spurred on by the fact I am cooking food for the Saturday market and wanted to have fresh home grown produce with which to make delicious morsels. To this end I am concentrating on heirloom vegetables, things that are a little out of the ordinary but no less tasty. Late as it may be in have gone four different types of runner beans, purple pods, yellow ones and pods with purple stripes! These should make appealing salads I hope! Other delights are beetroot with concentric red and white circles through the root, various types of lettuce, rocket and coriander. With all the wet weather and finally some warmer temperatures, the seedlings are racing away. All planted insitu so no need to worry about watering seed trays or pricking-out, just thing when the seedlings are big enough. The new leaves of the beetroot will be tossed in those summer salads to go with those BBQs we are all looking forward to. Under my, as yet not ripe, corn, will go a new crop of sugar snap peas. By the time the corn is finished the peas will be using the old corn plants as support while replacing the nitrogen the hungry corn has used. All cereal crops are high users of nitrogen and the peas fix nitrogen in the soil, crop rotation is beneficial not just to guard against pest build up but also refreshing the nutrients in the soil. Another job still to do in my garden is to dig up the few Pakistani red carrots I left to go to seed, these will provide me with my next crop of these heirloom vegetables. They will be dug out, hung up with paper bags over the seeds to dry. The bags will catch the seeds as they mature and fall from the seed heads. These particular carrots are deep red-purple on the outside and pale yellow on the inside, very sweet tasting. So expect to see a range of garden fresh salads and other savoury teats available from the market soon - weather permitting!

While at the market last Saturday, I was asked about a tree along Wharf Road, well, the tree is the common coral tree Erythrina crista-galli. It is one of a genus of some 30 species, E. crista-galli being from Brazil and is quite hardy compared to most of the genus. It does require some pruning when young to keep it tidy and encourage strong growth but eventually forms rather attractive gnarly trunks. The specimen in wharf road is quite a good example and worth a place in any garden.