Ewen's garden

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

Monday, September 19, 2005


Why is it, the moment you plant small vegetable seedlings, the next day they are gone, eaten by slugs and snails? Why is it, the moment your long awaited irises, get blown flat the second they all flower? Argentinean ants, what are they about, marching in columns around the garden, farming herds of scale insects and aphids as they do? What else gets my goat? The birds! In collaboration with the slugs and snails I suspect, planning attacks on various parts of the garden. The cat! Love him though I do, why does he insist on lying right where I planted my carrot seeds yesterday? Not only that, he manages to scratch a nest for himself there in the middle. Of course the birds too seem to think they must sharpen their talons amongst newly planted cuttings, leaving the topsoil all over the path.

Most recently I have been complaining about the dry, how will I keep my garden over the summer? It would seem this weekend all those worries have been allayed. Lying awake as the wind howled around the house and the rain pelted the windows, our tank is now full. A blast of rain like this though heavy may not replenish the water table as much as we may think and vigilance is still necessary especially for newly planted seeds and plants. Good staking too pays dividends; my broad beans are safe and sound stropped into their string and stake framing. So as the sun shines on the battle weary garden, all is not lost. Recently I sprayed the worst affected with scale and aphids (as much as I hate to spray, I use organic spray of garlic and pyrethrum) and the ants too seem to dislike this combo, thank goodness. As general rule though, if there is a gap in the row where the ct has made his nest, I don’t worry too much, the place is big enough for both of us and I can always throw in some lettuce in there instead. In a way my vegetable patch tends to look a bit more like an herbaceous border with blocks of plants and things a wee bit mixed up. I do try to remember where I last grew the tomatoes and rotate the crops so as not to deplete the soil of nutrients in one place and to avoid build of pests and diseases, so far so good.

One thing I am excited about is one of my ornamental passion vines Passiflora antioquiensis has buds on it. The blooms are a deep red colour and hang down on long petioles. Mine I have encouraged to grow up a pole then across the path to the top of a now dead wattle tree. The idea is to be able to walk beneath it and see the blooms hanging from above also to clothe the ugly old wattle tree. So despite the venting of the spleen there is always good reason to be optimistic in the garden!


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