THERE'S NOT TOO MUCH HERE AT THE MOMENT BUT SUMMER'S COMING AND WE'LL BE OUT DOCUMENTING EVERYTHING AS ANOTHER HORTICULTURAL YEAR KICKS OFF.
CHECK BACK IN SEPTEMBER
We are dilettante gardeners of a hillside half-acre, bringing it back under the mattock as we muster the energy and enthusiasm. Originally native podocarp forest, the neighbourhood has enjoyed quite a few incarnations; cleared in colonial times, it was used as a market garden by Chinese immigrants, then gutted by a small private quarry seeking breccia for the local railway lines. After this, the surrounding sections were apparently employed as a cow bales (as is evidenced by the bovine bones that rise from the ground like accusatory specters) with the villa on the section above our house being bulldozed some time in the 60's
(evidenced by the bedsprings that do the same).
All this has left us with a jumble of clay pug, mediocre pockets of almost-soil, dry banks, treacherous terraces and a lot of dry shade. A shallow bay is our immediate neighbor, some twenty metres or so down the cliff face over the road; for this reason we enjoy a relatively favoured microclimate with few real frosts, our concave topography providing some shelter from the southerly gales that roar over Port Chalmers in winter.
Roughly half of the land is in ornamental trees, most of which we have planted. The rest is being put into vegetables and a mixed perennial/shrub 'walking' garden (ie. there's nowhere to sit down). We overplant and under-cultivate because we are A; lazy and B; believe that anything destined to survive our attentions will do so in spite of this and so the varieties that flourish here are definitely worth trying elsewhere.
We grow to eat better, to save money, to take responsibility for our consumption and environment, to observe the seasons and to express gratitude for our existence on this beautiful piece of blue and green miracle. Our environmental policy is simple: if we wouldn't spray it on our own skin then we won't spray it on our friends and neighbours in the garden. To this effect we use no agricultural chemicals for pest control, every plant and animal being left to find its own place in our ecosystem. Or not.
As a result we enjoy a healthy insect population which in turn supports an ever-expanding avian spectrum; another exceptional return on our do-nothing investment is the distinct lack of pesty apocalypses. No one element in our invertebrate hood is able to dominate.
The returns for going almost-organic won't slap you in the face overnight if you're putting down the sprayer for the first time; expect the populations in your garden to take three years to right themselves and you begin to reap the tangible benefits of balance. In that time, you may have to take a hit as far as yield goes, but that is our karma as a species and there is light at the end of the aphidy tunnel, believe us. We knew virtually nothing about gardening when we started a decade or so ago and since then
we've learned the hard way. We hope our experiences will be of benefit to others.
If you have a question about anything mentioned here, please feel free to contact us- we are happy to assist.