The extended vege garden hasn’t been that bad to chop into shape. In summer I toyed with the idea of making it bigger, but with the knowledge of the community gardens where I can grow food in, I decided to keep the home plot a little smaller. Now for me, a small vege garden at home is like too short trousers on a man. It just doesn’t look right. I love to look at rows of neat veggies colour coordinated to liven the kitchen garden. We also need to have fresh food in abundance for smoothies and juicing if either of these appliances are going to whir into action in the morning. Lettuces alone seem to be priced at almost $4 each up here in Kerikeri, both in summer and autumn, so the whip is being cracked by myself to hurry up and grow more of our own food since we eat such a huge amount of greens as a family. After a little think, I decided to double the size of one of my veggie spaces just in time to sow carrot seeds and a load of beetroot.

Our middle boy Rupert (you may have met him with a microphone in hand helping me in an edible garden class workshop at Planet Albany last summer). He’s a plucky kid with a great sense of humor and at times I think all of the brains in the family combined into one head. Rupert (11 years old) is now being home schooled she says with a grin, a blink of the eye and a held breath. He has put up a good debate to Si and I as to why he really does not like the classroom banter to learn in. Fair enough and at the end of the day if that is his only gripe in the world then it is an easy fix. For me, teaching is a passion, so teaching our son, a willing student, I couldn’t be happier to take on the task! We have planned the lessons, he is doing the full NZ curriculum and to be sure I was not truly turning hippy up here in Northland, I threw a bright cherry lipstick into the grocery trolley this week and have taken on the challenge of schooling him, gumboots and all. Term 2 and 3 have a social studies focus on Rubbish and Recycling since we have a bugbare in paying for our recycling bottles to be taken away. These alone will be transformed into a succulent wall garden out by the kids playground which hopefully will have a better chance of retaining Geraldine the chicken from pecking through the mesh to escape.

This week Rupert and I marked out the 3m x 10m extended vege garden space by laying some lengths of timber until it looked just the right size. It was going to be a raised garden, however the compost I made earlier in summer has been devoured by a garden near the kids playground. I’m still not quite used to gardening on such a big scale. Mental note to self from here on in, stock pile more of the neighbours lawn clippings, autumn leaves and (for the mean time) sheep manure from the next door shearing sheds for MEGA compost piles, in effort to put more money into plants than soil.

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The Kikuyu grass is coming up easily with a flat spade, since this was where I cut and placed ‘lawn’, after digging out the Yukka fence. With the absence of ready compost, I have decided that I will double dig the garden soil rather than build on top of the garden with layered material like I had with the gardens right next to the kitchen in the repurposed water fountain. A little bit of hard slog now will be worth the effort since buying in as much compost won’t be needed. A visit to my friends horse farm in Tako Bay and a welcome clean out of her stables (a mutual benefit for both her and I), and I have far more than enough for a 10cm layer covering the ground ready for Si to dig in on the weekend. The sawdust and horse poo combined will add a good dose of substance to the existing soil which will then only require a light topping of compost ready to sow and plant directly into.

Planting root vegetables into a newly manured sawdust garden is the best idea and this semi shade during winter garden will be fine for both beets and carrots as neither require full sun.

Come 12 weeks time we will be pulling three varieties of carrots, including my favourite rainbow blend. There will be lots of lovely globes of beets, perfect for juicing a tasty carrot, lemon, mint and beet liver cleanser.