10 October 2007


I just can't help myself. There is something about gardens and home grown veggies that I just can't resist. Here I am, just a couple of weeks from exams, several assignments still to complete (and to be truthful, very little study done all semester), and what do I spent my morning doing - gardening.

For some people "gardening" means dirty, broken finger nails, sore backs and knees, and a satisfying pile of rubbish to go the tip at the end of the day. For me, it's more of a potter. The problem is - regardless of which way you go about it - gardening is time consuming. I haven't really done all that much, certainly not enough (it would seem) to occupy an entire morning. Pinched out some new growth, added some fertiliser, watered.

All I have done this morning is tend to my tomatoes and herbs. In fact, that IS my garden. We have plenty of trees about, but there's no pretty flower beds or bountiful veggie patches. Firstly, because we have plenty of trees we don't have plenty of sun. Secondly, we live on the side of a hill, so we have little usable soil. The best soil is in the chook yard, but it's not in the sun (and chooks have a habit of decimating plants). And thirdly, I'm supposedly to use my time to grow my knowledge, not plants.

But I can't resist. I simply can not put up with another summer of store bought tomatoes. Nearly everything else I'm happy to eat commercially grown, but tomatoes ... store bought tommies just don't taste the same. In fact, many of them simply don't taste at all. A couple of weeks ago on impulse I grabbed a punnet of seedlings. They're now about a foot high, and already flowering. My mouth waters at the thought of real, ripe, red tomatoes.

My herbs are even less effort. They grow in pots on the kitchen window sill. We have a major problem with little black ants. Some days you'd swear the kitchen bench tops were living. The ants are so thick you can't see the colour of the laminate under them. If you spray them it takes weeks to get rid of their little dead bodies.

Aiming to be the environmental conscious person I'm studying to be, I got online to see what organic solutions there might be. Seems herbs keep them at bay, except no-one could quite agree on which herbs. I decided to play it safe and grow the lot. At the moment I have mint, basil, oregano, parsley. I did have a mini rosemary, but it's 'gone' (I missed it dieing, and it's already composted). I've tried growing coriander, but I'm not doing too well with it. The mint was getting very leggy, and I've got a lamb roast planned for later this week, so I decided it was a good time to prune it and the others. The leaves are now soaking in a cup of boiling water. By Friday they should make a very nice mint sauce.

This time next year I should have finished studying, and will have time to devote to a veggie patch. We only have one small area suitable for veggies, so the best option is containers. I'm considering digging out the chook yard and using that for potting mix. I'm told that if we put sawdust in the yard the chooks will turn it into a great growing medium.

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