The year in review - part IV

Anita Kundu is talking about growing Herbs, Something else from Auckland

Garden ready!

In my last post, I outlined my goals around the garden for 2019. The biggest one is to gradually phase out the use of non-organic methods and substances.  Why the concern with being organic now, when I have been gardening for five years?  It started rather innocently, using the odd fertiliser here and there.  I always took pride in the fact that I didn’t use sprays on edibles, only the roses.  I called myself a “spray-free” veggie gardener.  Then when I added our mini orchard, I had to start using a fungicide to prevent brown rot and leaf curl on our stone fruit, as well as grease spots on the passionfruit.  I chose Yates Liquid Copper.  I had to start using it on our celery in order to prevent rust and it looks like I’ll have to spray the garlic with it too from now on, if this year’s rust on the crop is anything to go by.  I know Liquid Copper is supposed to be organic, but all this does beg the question of what is the point of going to the effort of growing our own veggies if they have been sprayed, as I am using some non-organic sprays too, such as Success and Mavrik.  I suppose at least I know what products I’m using on them.  Homegrown veggies are also always fresher than store bought ones.  Still, I need to re-think a lot of the products I am using around the garden.  Even if I can’t meet the standard of being certified organic, it doesn’t mean I shouldn’t strive for this rather elusive and perhaps unrealistic goal.  As I said in a previous post, sometimes you need to be happy with 90% if that’s the best you can do in the circumstances.

In order to achieve goals, you need to develop a strategy, that is, identify some concrete steps that you plan to take in order to get there.  It’s helpful to break it down this way, otherwise it all becomes too daunting!  Here are some specific measures I have identified I’d like to take around the garden next year:

  •          Make part of the garden organic and use this area to trial methods and products.  Note that it will take time for the soil to become organic as it needs to be cleansed of non-organic matter, but you have to start somewhere! It’s a bit like planting a fruit tree – don’t we all wish we did it five years ago?
  •          Transition over to the Yates Thrive Natural liquid fertilisers range instead of using the non-organic line.  I was really impressed with the organic Citrus liquid fertiliser included in my prize pack for Mini Challenge 2 and would like to try the one formulated for tomatoes, which I could use on other fruiting crops, too
  •          Use products in the Yates Nature’s Way line for plant protection, rather than using non-organic sprays
  •          Make my own liquid fertiliser from comfrey leaves growing in our garden
  •          Use comfrey leaves as a mulch around plants.  They are an excellent source of potassium.
  •          Make my own solution for treating powdery mildew.  There are lots of different home remedies and you need to experiment a bit to find one that works for you.  I’ve already noticed some mildew on one of our zucchini.  I’m going to try a recipe I saw in an Instagram post by the Urban Veggie Patch, an Australian lady I follow who lives in coastal NSW.  Her recommendation is to make up a spray with 2 L water, 1 Tbs neem oil and 1 Tbs baking soda
  •          Grow more heirloom varieties rather than hybrids.  Heirloom seeds come true to type, whereas hybrids may or may not be true to type, making them less useful to save for future seasons
  •          Make more of an effort to save seeds from my own plants.  Lynda Hallinan has a separate bed for seed saving, but the problem with this is that the plants in this patch may not be the strongest, healthiest ones in the garden.  You need to save seeds from your best plants for it to be worthwhile, as the off-spring will carry the characteristics of the parents
  •          Set up a composting system.  I attended a composting workshop run by the council a couple of years ago, called the Kaipatiki project.  Now it is run by the Compost Collective.  Today, I’m re-attending the course with mum so we can refresh our memory.  At the end of the course, they give you a discount voucher to use on one of the systems they recommend.  I’m pleased that I have already taken a step towards achieving one of my goals for next year!

Today’s photo is of another Christmas lily which is currently flowering in the garden.  This one is Lily Regale, also from NZ Bulbs.