Article | The emergence of green fingers

The emergence of green fingers

Giving gardening a go

I used to think that growing a garden was not much more than putting a seed in the ground but over the last few weeks I have found that there is much more to it.

My introduction back into gardening has come after about a 20 year hiatus and it started just prior to Christmas. The last time I had a proper garden was when I was a kid at home trying to grow yams in a small 1x1m plot next to the garage. Now things are a little different as the new home I have bought with my wife came with a veggie plot that was about 20m².

The plot was not in great shape and while it was not massively weed infested, I got the feeling that it had not been touched for some years. Other than the weeds, the only thing of note growing in there was one leaf of rhubarb coming out of very old and large root system.

On Christmas Eve, while most people were wrapping last minute Christmas gifts, my Mum and I had just enough time to take off most of the weeds. The next morning, with Christmas bells ringing, I was up at 8am and ready to finish the the job.

Preparing the soil on Christmas Day

Preparing the soil on Christmas Day

I started by spreading over some sheep pellets and a little lime. Then I dug the whole bed over. Any remaining weeds were dug into the soil along with the sheep pellets for soil nutrition. Then in went the few seedlings I had bought Christmas Eve.

The veggie bed got a good soak twice that day and once again the following morning before I headed away to the South Island for a week.

When I returned not much had changed.

The seedlings seemed to be about the same size. The seeds I planted had not yet sprouted and even the weeds had not returned.

I did some research which included watching hours of gardening footage on YouTube and came to the conclusion that the soil was probably lacking in important things like Nitrogen, Magnesium Potassium, etc.

I had already put the pellets down so I was not keen on adding too much more to the soil, but I managed to find some blue stuff in the old shed, left by the previous owners. I figured it was probably some sort of nitrogen based fertiliser so spread it around generously. Nothing has died as a result so far so I think that was probably right.

A week later and things are getting a lot better. The tomato seedlings are growing in size, the broad beans have sprouted, the lettuces have enlarged and are slowly shifted from being a sickly pale green to a darker chlorophyll rich green and the corn seems to be settling in. So my first year’s garden seems to be coming along quite nicely and the bail of lucern hay that I brought back from the south island is spread out evenly to keep the roots warm and moist.

I’m trying not to count my jars of relish before my tomatoes grow, but it’s hard not to.

The garden is growing

The garden is growing

The biggest learning that has taken place with my garden is the realisation that in order to get goods out of the garden I have to put goods into the garden. By goods in I mean fertiliser, compost, liquid nitrogen, composted coffee grounds etc. For this reason it seems that the most important part of a garden for ‘real gardeners’ is the compost pile.

The health of the compost pile directly affects the health of the garden although you can still have a healthy garden without a healthy compost. It just takes regular trips to the garden centre to buy the nutrition your garden needs.

A couple of months later and things are looking great. For a garden started in mid-summer it is coming home strong.

Harvest time seems to be just around the corner.

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