Hi! My special season’s greetings to you and the people who are special to you and best wishes to you all for a happy and peaceful New Year.
I’m celebrating that the Pohutukawa trees I planted earlier this year are in bloom in time for Christmas. The drifts of white in the collage are the carrot weed flowers (wild carrot) which proliferate in the paddocks at this time of the year. The cattle love the flower heads and the pukeko gouge and gorge on the roots.
The grandkids and their school-mates sang a neat New Zealand Christmas carol at their end-of-year playcentre and school prize-giving ceremonies - A Pukeko in a Ponga Tree
which is sung to the tune of The Twelve Days of Christmas. Enjoy our Kiwi down-under spirit.
Tagged Christmas, Conservation, Family, Gaia's Garden, Gardening, Gardens, Horticulture, Lifestyle, Lifestyle Block, Natural Gardening, New Zealand, Rural Environment, Trees
It felt hotter outside than the official 20C today. The ground is dry and surface cracks indicate the need for rain. Never-the-less, early summer is here and this gardening month is busy with successive sowings, cultivation and harvesting.
I checked the growth of my potatoes planted 30 September. The Kowiniwini, Urenika and Maori heritage potatoes are about to burst into flower. I was somewhat surprised to find the Swift (early variety for Xmas ) potatoes are almost ready to be harvested. Two-year-old Grandson who became an expert ‘tato inspector last year, inducted baby brother in the art of choosing the biggest and the best ‘tato for dinner tonight. He also picked the very first tiny courgette of the season (as you do) when you’re a connoisseur of baby vegetables. The early potato crop probably thrived because of the thick applications of mulch. The soil around the plants was friable, warm and moist despite no watering and drying conditions. We are careful how we use water because our domestic water supply is from rainwater collection. We pump water from the stream to the troughs for the animals. So gardening for me must be about conserving moisture and mulching. Our predominantly clay soil becomes rock hard in the summer – digging is a no go – hence I follow a permacultural approach to diversity and building up soil to encourage worms and beneficial insects.
The Calendula are making a great show among the potatoes. With that in mind today, I filled gaps among the other vegetables with more heat-loving flowers as companion plants - Rudbeckia, Zinnia and French Marigolds. That should make the friendly insects giddy with delight (or confused should the pests have pesky intentions). November here is a great month for flowers – I use different edible flowers in salads and drinks.
I under-planted the sweet corn with a long green cucumber – my Dad used to do this as a living mulch so I though I’d give it a try this year as well as letting pumpkins sprawl under the corn plants. I could have used beans – but I have these growing elsewhere. My last tasks today were to plant Sweet Peppers and to stake Beefsteak tomatoes – under-planted with Sweet Basil of course as I have visions of home-made pesto in mind.
Tagged Benefical Insects, Companion Planting, Conservation, Ecology, Food Growing, Gaia's Garden, Gardening, Heirloom Seeds, Lifestyle, Mulch, Natural Gardening, New Zealand, Organic vegetable growing, Permaculture, Potatoes, Sustainable Living, Vegetables, Weather
Some years ago, I planted these native plants to act as a windbreak to protect our fruit trees from the prevailing westerlies. The big bonus is that our New Zealand native birds love the food source. The native flax and cabbage trees nectars particularly excite the tuis and waxeyes (some people call these birds Silvereye) at this time of the year. The birds were coy about posing for the camera – so another time. Mind you, there was a deterrent. Mayhem - the Ginger cat, so wanted to be in the photo. He just doesn’t understand that the birds don’t want to be his friends. I love watching the tiny waxeyes – they look so cute after they’ve dipped their heads into the flax flowers and emerge covered with orange pollen.
My potato plants have made rapid progress and I’m still applying mulch rather than earthing up. The spring temperatures are warming up considerable and the other vegies are growing well.
Tagged Conservation, Food Growing, Fruit Trees, Gardening, Gardens, Mulch, New Zealand, Permaculture, Sustainable Living, Trees, Vegetables
The trees bought at the garden centre sale on Saturday are now planted.
Pohutukawa – planted group of three trees as a living connection gift. Crimson flowers at christmas-time. Bees enjoy the nectar. Fast growth rate.
Pukatea – planted two trees in the swamp. Evergreen foliage. Slow growth rate.
Puriri – planted two trees for posterity. Evergreen, pink flowers most of the year. Berries are a food source for the birds. Medium growth rate.
Kahikatea – planted a row four trees for posterity. Evergreen and berries are a food source for the birds. Slow growth rate.
On another note, I’m really enjoying the sight of the other trees – especially those gracing our driveway in their colourful autumn foliage.
Friend Trish and I finally got to the local garden centre’s sale yesterday. Most of the fruit trees had been well picked over but there were other bargains still to be had. I had my wish list drawn from the Northland Regional Council publication Trees for the Land: Growing Trees in Northland for Protection, Production and Pleasure (pp. 30-31) A guide to planting native trees. My best buys included four Kahikatea Dacrycarpus Darydioides trees at $5 each were normally priced at $29.95. Perfect for the swampy paddock I’m planting up. The garden centre owner said people weren’t interested in buying tall, slow growing, native forest trees. I won’t see these trees in their maturity at about fifty metres – I’m planting for posterity. Kahikatea may grow about six metres in ten years. Next best buy was two Pukatea Laurelia Novae – Zelandiae at $10 each (half price). Another slow growing tree that is best planted in a wet situation. Pukatea also grow about six metres in ten years.
In a previous post, I included a Rockyou slideshow showing trees planted in the swampy area. Today as we dug the planting holes, the clay was heavy and ’gluggy’ and water welled up as we hit an underground rivulet. The Pukatea should lap up their new watery location. Digging holes for the Kahikatea was another story. We dug through the swampy clay loam and then hit the hard-pan clay layer beneath. We used the pick-axe to break it up. Worth the effort as the Kahikatea will be happy in the moist soil.
Digging in the swamp was easy compared to the digging we’ll do tomorrow on an exposed sunny hillside which has poor soil, rock-hard clay. Why the effort? Pohutukawa Metrosideros Excelsa ‘Lighthouse‘. I bought this tree as a living gift to celebrate the birth of 4-month grandson (sibling to two-year old pea-picker). I’ll also plant Puriri Vitex lucens (bargain price $7.50) as a solitary specimen tree and because the flowers and fruits attract native birds - the wood pigeon (kereru) and tui. Lots of compost will be added to give these young trees good drainage and a good start before next summer.
The sale was a good start towards meeting my pledge to the UN Plant a Billion Trees Campaign. Trish bought lots of sale-priced trees and shrubs – she’s planting a sanctuary to complement the earthbrick home they’re building on their two-acre lifestyle block.
Tagged Conservation, Ecology, Gardening, Gardens, Lifestyle, Lifestyle Block, New Zealand, Permaculture, Rural Environment, Sustainable Living, Trees
The floodwaters have receded and the sun shone yesterday. It’s Saturday and it’s clean-up time. Our concerns are minor compared to the major damage and disruption faced by people who live in districts up to one hour’s driving time north of us.
Weather experts said the severe weather that wreaked serious widespread havoc in the north was once in a 150 year event. For our district, it was described as a once in a 125 year weather event. The long range forecast is that we can expect more of the same at some point in the future given the changes to the global climate patterns.
I’m attempting to reforest a swampy area fed by underground seepage from a spring . A hardpan layer lies beneath a layer of clay loam. Digging the planting holes has had it’s difficulties – rock hard in the drier months and very boggy at other times. A pick-axe was useful at times. While I planted exotic trees because of their affinity with growing in wet situations, I also planted native trees such as Cabbage Trees and Tree Ferns. I also planted two small Kahikatea seedlings – these are slow growing and are planted for posterity. We happen to have many Totara trees. Some are about 20-30 metres and still growing at about 80 to 100 years old. Tree have an important significance in stories Maori people tell of Tane, the god of the forest.
Thinking about trees and people in this way, reminds me of two quotes I read in the United Nations Environment Programme: Billion Trees Campaign :
“The great French Marshall Lyautey once asked his gardener to plant a tree. The gardener objected that the tree was slow growing and would not reach maturity for 100 years. The Marshall replied, ‘In that case, there is no time to lose; plant it this afternoon!’” John F. Kennedy
“Trees are poems that Earth writes upon the sky. We fell them down and turn them into paper, that we may record our emptiness.” Kahlil Gibran
This purpose of this post is really to experiment with using Rockyou slideshow to show captioned pictures of some trees I planted in this swampy area behind my garden.
| View Show
| Create Your Own
Trees are still very much on my mind. At a recent family gathering, the importance of the function of trees in creating carbon sinks was a topic of conversation. My brother referred to something he’d read to the effect, ‘plant 101 trees for every one felled’. So it was with some interest tonight that I read Willem Van Cotthem’s Desertification post, and I quote:
“The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has launched a major worldwide tree planting campaign. Under the Plant for the Planet: Billion Tree Campaign, people, communities, business and industry, civil society organizations and governments are encouraged to enter tree planting pledges online with the objective of planting at least one billion trees worldwide during 2007.”
Great idea! I won’t be able to plant ’101 trees’ though. I still want to plant some trees as a living connection – but I’ll broaden the ecological context. This autumn I’ll plant groupings of native trees and other plants for their flowers, berries and nectar that are valuable sources of food for the native birds such as tui and keruru (wood pigeon) especially in the winter and spring, and let’s not forget the bees. The shades of green, the shapes and different heights should not only create a restful visual effect, but also an ecologically beneficial habitat.
Trees are very much on my mind at the moment. It will be soon time for planting. Last year when my three-month old grandson was born, Pohutukawa trees had started flowering as they do before Christmas. Later towards the end of autumn, we’ll plant a pohutukawa – our gift to celebrate this baby boy’s birth. The placenta will be put into the hole and planted with the tree. In this way his tie will be especially forged to the land. The tree variety chosen will suit our inland situation - and won’t grow as large as the coastal specimens. This tree won’t be planted in isolation – I plan to plant it as part of native grove that will include trees for his cousins and two-year brother. Trees evoke strong natural connections with our life experiences.
My sister planted a Rimu sapling when her son was born three decades ago. Decades ago, my Dad, who saw active service during WWII, planted Golden Totara, inspired by a memorial grove planted in remembrance of local men who did not return. I think it was his quiet way of remembering and trying to restore the land. My sister-in-law has this most wonderful cherry tree - my mother-in-law would have loved the fabulous blossoms and bird life. Each of us has this strong sense of connectedness with the land.
On another note, some tree felling will have to happen soon. A stand of Leyland Cypress were originally planted as a roadside boundary shelter belt about 25 to 30 years ago (well before our time here). As with the row of trees lining our drivewway that we had felled in the summer of 2005, these are on borrowed time and are showing signs of rot. Himself will be able to get his chainsaw out again. Lots of firewood to cut. I’m thinking nature abhors a vaccuum. What trees can I plant?
Posted in Family, Golden Totara tree, Grandchildren, Lifestyle, New Zealand interest, Pohutukawa Tree, Reflections, Trees
Tagged Conservation, Family, Gardening, Lifestyle Block, New Zealand interest, Permaculture, Rural Environment, Trees, UNEP PLant for the Planet: One Billion Trees
Years ago, an elderly neighbour showed me how he transplanted seedlings into the garden in paper pots that he’d made. There was, he claimed, less shock to the root system. The young plant is established in the paper pot with seedling mix before being transplanted into the garden. I leave a cuff to act as a mini-barrier from the wind.
Fold one sheet of newspaper to make an organic seedling planter.
Interleave one edge into opposite fold to form a cylindrical shape
Press inner fold down to form base
Outer view of finished base
Fold top 1/3 inside pot
Finished seedling paper pot ready to fill.
Zucchini seedling sown about 10 days ago in moistened paper pot. Leave space to act as a cuff to protect the young plant.
The same neighbour also spread seeds onto dampened paper strips. He covered the seeds with another strip of dampened paper. He then laid the seeded paper on damp seedling mix.