Ewen's garden

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

Thursday, July 14, 2005


Is everyone tiered of the rain yet? Our tank is finally full, not that I need it for the garden at the moment, but it is nice to have a bath and not worry about there being enough water for anything else. With an average soil temperature in the garden of between 12 and 13 degrees, everything is growing quickly, unlike during the summer when the soil temperature was around 28 and there wasn’t enough water to keep things going. I even have some strawberries with fledgling fruit already, whether these become ripe or not I don’t know. Still part of the fun is imagining having strawberries in August!

The Dutch irises are up and away now, about 20cm high and the tulips in the pots by the front door now poking their first leaves up through the soil, all is anticipation. I have sown seed of two different types of zinnia and sunflowers, also soldier poppies, a little late I know for the poppies but never mind. I do have three young plants of the Oriental poppy, Papaver orientale which will have red blooms, amongst which I have transplanted some self sown borage, Borago officinalis, the red and blue hopefully will look good together.

Other self perpetuators in the garden are the pot marigolds Calendula officinalis, a rather common herb but welcome at this time for its bright yellow, orange and russet flowers. These easy plants have been grown in kitchen gardens for centuries, being used in many and varied ways for medicinal and culinary purposes. I just like the way they appear by themselves wherever their seed finds itself, if in the wrong place it is easily removed. The flower petals can be used in salad or soup, adding a touch of colour. One other plant striking a note of colour in the garden at the moment is the rainbow chard or silver beet, Beta vulgaris var. cicla, the stems are all shades from cerise through orange to yellow and white, the latter being the most commonly grown. All perfectly good cooked, especially stir fried, the stems being chopped finely and added to pasta with mushrooms and walnuts and a basil pesto sauce, this I top with some grated parmesan. This plant originates around the Mediterranean and is the forerunner of the beetroot, being of the same genus. One of the beetroot family I have is Beta vulgaris cv. ‘Chioggia’, seed of which came from Koanga gardens, only one plant grew, so I have left this one to go to seed this season. The beet has a root of concentric circles coloured red and white, a different look for a salad.

Some other seeds I need to get in the ground, although some what late are lily seeds, Lilium sp. This seed I collected from my flowers during the summer and from my mother, still better late than never! I am going to find a wee space somewhere in the vegetable garden for them, or possibly in my over grown herb patch by the back door, the latter space may be better for I will more likely look after them there. The way I am going, I will soon have no room for vegetables in my garden!


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