Tag Archives: organic gardening
The First Tamarillos

The First Tamarillos

Posted 23 December 2010 | By | Categories: Animals, Flowers, fungi, Gardening, Growing Food, Pest control, Plants, Seagarden | Comments Off on The First Tamarillos
tamarillo

Delighted to see the first tamarillos emerging like jewels from these fast-growing trees. The leaves have been attracting aphids, but they seem responsive to strong sprays of water shooting them off. I’m not sure the occasional chili pepper garlic spray did much more than the water on its own.

I’ve also harvested my first few potatoes out of the strawberry patch. The strawberries, raspberries and blackberries are all still coming through strong. The blueberries are almost ripe, and the myrtus ugni are starting to form visibly behind the flowers. Feijoas are also fattening up even while still in bloom.

The area by the front door has filled up with fragrant star jasmine, which is apparently a seductive scent for cats as well as humans. At least for the the one below, who’s been hanging out on the front step a lot lately. When I approach to say hi, the cat scats. Directly across in the fernery, the nikau palm’s looking healthy, as are the native punga tree ferns.

There are also some mysterious mushrooms in the lettuce. Does anyone recognize these fungi? I appreciate your help in comments!

Very Hungry Caterpillars

Very Hungry Caterpillars

Posted 24 March 2010 | By | Categories: Animals, Books, Gardening, Growing Food, Vegetables | Comments

very hungry caterpillars

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric CarleThis week marks the anniversary of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, one of my favorite books as a child. But one glance at the protagonist’s varied diet (food diary lovingly compiled by the Shrinking Sisters) reveals that it is not Pieris rapae rapae (aka cabbage white butterfly, small white butterfly or just white butterfly), Seagarden’s frequent diner.

These soft green consumers grow up and become white butterflies, who then lay their eggs on the underside of the leaves. The caterpillars hatch and begin to feast on a menu of organic tatsoi, kale, bok choy, broccoli and brussels sprouts, i.e. the brassicaceae — in the case of the tatsoi (below), until it’s entirely devoured.

In the organic garden, the main options for stopping this cycle are physical (removing the caterpillars and eggs), chemical (garlic spray as a preventative), and biological (Bacillus thuringiensis aka BT, dipel and thuricide which is a bacterial stomach poison for all caterpillars).

I regularly apply garlic spray, which I suspect the caterpillars enjoy as a tasty marinade, and my strategic companion plantings of hyssop, nasturtium, calendula and cosmos have been interpreted as gifts of affectionate bouquets. A box of BT (in the form of Organic NO Caterpillars) sits on the shelf, but after buying it I found I really don’t have a strong desire to poison the little beings. I guess I value biodiversity more than a perfect crop. (See Dan Barber’s inspiring TED talk featuring systems-thinking measurements of success, such as the the health of the predators and water purified through the farming process.)

I handpick them in the mornings. And sometimes in the evenings. They rotate their fuzzy faces towards mine and channel Mary Oliver, mouthing “Don’t bother me.
I’ve just been born.”
Once I’ve gathered a handful or so, I fling them gently over the fence, into the puka (or beyond). I won’t be replanting tatsoi. How do you deal with very hungry caterpillars?

Remote Control Gardening

Remote Control Gardening

Posted 08 January 2010 | By | Categories: Technology | Comments Off on Remote Control Gardening

Le verdure del mio orto

I’ve been watching friends get sucked into FarmVille, a social online game that has them planting, plowing and harvesting and earning a little virtual coin. But what if those vegetables you planted in your browser were actually delivered weekly to your home? Le Verdure Del Mio Orto (‘The Vegetables from my Garden’) lets you build an organic garden from your web browser and offers weekly deliveries from ‘your farm’ in Northern Italy, between Milan and Turin. (Found via Springwise.)

Virtual gardeners first select a plot size according to how many people they’d like to feed: 30m2 is sufficient for 1–2 people and costs EUR 850 per year. Then you can select from 39 types of vegetables for your patch, with information on expected yields and harvest times displayed visually. Optional extras include herb, fruit, flower, and flavor (e.g. garlic, basil, chile peppers) beds, a photo album of the garden’s progress, organic compost, personalization, and even a scarecrow with an image of your face.

Now this is the kind of community supported agriculture I’d really love to support!

  • If you’re dreaming of growing Italian vegetables in your own garden, Franchi is a line of specialty seeds with gorgeous pomodori, melanzane, carciofi,cime di rapa and other marvelous things available at ItalianSeedsPronto.co.nz online in NZ, seedsofitaly.com in the UK and http://www.growitalian.com in the US.
  • If you’re in Wellington and want to order organic veggies grown by Frank van Steensel and Josje Neerincx of Wairarapa Eco Farms online for weekly delivery, sign up at www.simplygoodfood.co.nz.
  • If you want to learn to cook creatively with them, make Maria Pia de Razza-Klein your mentor.
  • Or if you just want to experience them at their best, eat at her trattoria (Maria Pia’s, 55-57 Mulgrave Street, Wellington, phone 04.499.5590).