Edible Garden – 1 month on

I feel like I should post some more sewing before I bombard you with more garden photos but I don’t have any sewing to share just now…

*shrug* 😉

So gardening it is 😀

I uploaded some photos to Facebook at the end of the month to share with my friends. Sometimes I completely forget about Facebook, haha. Anyway, I realised, as I looked back at my first photo and the one I took that day to share, that it had been one month since I started my little edible garden project.

I hadn’t really noticed the change since it has been quite gradual in my eyes but what a difference a month makes!

30 September 201229 October 2012

Look how great that spinach looks, we have already cut off a few outer leaves for cooking, and my little carrots are busy growing out of sight. They will need some thinning out and I have also added a second row too. I cannot wait to eat them!

I may have planted some things a bit close together because I never expected the parsley and coriander to go so mental!

And I swear I have been using both these herbs like crazy, everything is coriander flavoured in our house, it’s a good thing we like it. Eventually they will go to seed and die off. I will have to start again but before that happens I will try harvesting some to dry. Maybe I will try planting them from the seeds too. I think that only works if they are a heirloom variety, not a hybrid, I have no idea what they are or if that applies to herbs so we shall see.

The strawberries are looking delicious, but not yet ripe. I added pea straw to keep the moisture in and the fruit off the dirt. I will use some of the reclaimed chicken wire (from under the ivy) to create a bird (and husband) proof tunnel to protect them this week. The Kowhai tree has lost all its flowers now and until the Pohutukawa come into flower I don’t want my Tui and Waxeyes eyeing up my fruit as a replacement for the sweet nectar!

Last week Hoonigan Performance Enthusiast Hubby and I spent 4 days up around Taihape (pronounced tie-happy) and Hastings volunteer marshalling for TargaNZ, it was awesome! On the way back we passed through Palmerston North so that I could go visit my new favourite nursery (Awapuni) for real.

In my head I imagined a very large garden centre with lots of people potting little seedlings up and customers scrambling to buy them all and it being a very commercial experience but I was so very very wrong.

We actually missed the entrance and had to do a very quick u-turn on SH3 to drive back. A long driveway, all secret garden-like, takes you past some of the green houses and outdoor growing/potting areas before you arrive at a very residential looking building. A small room is where the plants are kept in racks and after you select your green goodies you pay by honesty box.

Yes, that’s right!

$4 per bundle or 3 for $10 and you put your money in a little letter box on the wall. I only saw one worker, through a small window. I think that is awesome! I love supporting the little guy and I was actually really pleased by what I saw. I brought three bundles of new plants home.

The next day Geologist Hubby was sent that way again for work and so he popped in, with absolutely no prompting from me at all, and bought 3 more bundles as a surprise gift. Isn’t he wonderful? He is very proud of my efforts. Ok, so there was an ulterior motive, his selection was two types of basil and gherkins. He wants to try a few pickling and spread making things and has asked me to “grow them up good” for him 🙂

So I quickly needed more garden space and Sunday morning was spent preparing my extension, but first I took care of a little business.

You’ll remember we left off here:

Well, after cleaning out the car from our trip away I found the receipt for the fail-fork and following Ana’s suggestion I attempted to return it for a refund with great success:

And now meet my new friend, Mr McGregor!

Cue more pulling out of hostas (I know what they are called now thanks to Tineke) and much forking and digging. The hosta roots have made the soil very gluggy and because it is mostly clay I used a new secret weapon:

This stuff is great! I actually bought Mr McGregor the weekend following the breakage and dug some of this Clay Breaker through with compost in the first area and this weekend I could already see a huge improvement.

So after clearing a bit more superfluous foliage I added more clay breaker and compost to my newly cleared space.

This gardening business is hard work I’ll tell you, I was pooped by the time I was ready to plant! The soil needed much more work than the first section and hopefully over time I can improve it further but for now, because I am impatient, I just stuck my seedlings in and we’ll see how they do.

So here they are, from left to right: Silverbeet (chard), Broccoli and two types of Basil (bush & sweet), across the back (because I am guessing they will climb, so I will add some sort of framing later on) are Gherkin and Cucumber. Yum!

The beans & Pak Choi will be transplanted soon and when I have more space in my rubbish bin another lot of fence attacking ivy will disappear!

The other big achievement of the weekend and this week has been compost! The home-made kind…well, not really…yet, just the beginnings.

The previous owners left 3 plastic compost bins behind, like this but black. They look fat black darleks!

I peeked in them about 2 weeks ago but whatever was in there was all dried out so the following weekend I started one of the bins off by dumping in the lawn clippings. Now I am also adding my vege scraps, shredded paper and other weed-free gardening waste to build them up.

I have done a bit of internet research but like most things I am just jumping in and seeing how it goes. I will add some “blood and bone” and start turning it over to aerate it this weekend and I guess we’ll see. Apparently adding lime with “keep it smelling sweet”, not that I intend to sniff it all that much. When that bin is full I will leave it to do its thing and start on the next one and repeat, in 4 to 6 months time the first lot should be ready.

It will be so good to get to the point where I am even making my own compost. This whole gardening thing hasn’t been nearly as difficult as I thought it would be (or as time consuming) and I am really enjoying myself. Next on the agenda will be harvesting my own seeds!

My friend E said it best, and to paraphrase her most excellent post, “I am taking back control of my survival”…it feels so good!


Agapanthus – 1; The Curious Kiwi – 0

Guess what? This will be my 200th post, wow! 😀 I didn’t think when I started my little blog that I’d enjoy writing so much but I love it!

Thanks for following along xx

On Saturday we had a weather bomb* so I spent the day pottering in my room. I was in a quiet mood so I worked on the rugby jersey and managed to trace three dress patterns, one of which will be the “Birthday Dress” for 2012. On Sunday it was beautiful, in Wellington anyway, so I declared Gardening and I were BFFs 4EVA and decided it was time for Edible Garden: Stage One Extension.

Three more bags of compost was acquired from Bunnings and I dragged the wheelie bin around to the back and set to work.

First up, here is the next area to be cleared:

Oh my gosh, don’t look at the grass! This is before it got mowed, last weekend Nerdy Husband declared it needed to “grow out” a bit before the next mowing.

Recently there has been a healthy discussion in the sewing blogosphere around how much people dress up for, or alter, their garment photos in comparison to “real life” – honestly, if I knew how to make a lawn looked mowed in Photoshop I would have done it!

To give you a location based on the first bed, it is a bit further along the north fence-line and just as overgrown.

A rouge (and poorly Photoshopped) lawn mowers appears – it’s not very effective!

It is also a bit lower down and a bit more boggy, mostly due to the types of plants currently growing there, but nothing a bit of sand and compost won’t fix.

I was keen to clear at least half of it to start with, beginning with one offending mini-Agapanthus.

I don’t like Agapanthus.

I’m sorry if you do (actually, I’m not) but they annoy me and I don’t really know why. Kiwis (and the Aussies too) are so obsessed with planting them everywhere. The council stick them in our roundabouts, people line their driveways with them but to me they are a glorified weed and they are not to reside in my garden.

I know my dislike is irrational and I completely understand people disagreeing with me. Nerdy Husband feels the same way about hydrangeas for no good reason either. I don’t mind them actually, what’s to hate? They pretty much grow a complete bouquet on a stem, easy as. We have one in the front garden, I recognised it the other day when it started greening up after it’s winter sleep.

I”ll wait until it flowers to see how long until Nerdy Hubby notices it, a little marital experiment if you will, hehe 😉

Luckily, we do agree on the Agapanthus issue.

Does anyone else feel that way about Agapanthus? Just me? Or perhaps there is another plant you love to hate for no reason? It’s OK if you like Agapanthus, feel free to defend them in the comments.

There were a couple of green leafy things cowering in front of the Agapanthus, but I quickly dispatched them to the wheelie bin and soon there was nothing standing between me and the Agapanthus but soggy dirt.

It’s possible that I may have mentioned something out aloud to that blight in my garden…

…and it may have heard me.

It broke my fork 😦

That’s just plain cheating!

I will admit that when I went and bought all my new garden toys a couple of weekends ago, that I did buy the cheapest fork in the shop. I wasn’t sure if Gardening and I were going to be friends so cheap and cheerful was the motto of the day.

This fork may have been a bit too cheerful.

I have two options: buy another one (more expensive/better quality), or perhaps convince Mechanical-Brother-in-Law to weld mine up. I think I may go with the latter to begin with. Mechanical-Brother-in-Law owes us a favour and he has a couple of those welding things, one of them will do it I am sure.

He’ll probably ask me what sort of metal it is…”cheap” is a metal isn’t it?

So that was my day of digging done for and I took my wrath out on the ivy instead.

I don’t hate the ivy but it does go all along that fence and around the corner. The stuff around the corner is safe, it camouflages the fence and I like that when I look out my lounge windows I see green with the hills in the background above. It makes my backyard look like it goes on forever. The ivy over the vege garden however will prevent me from growing and supporting taller veges like beans and peas etc. It will also be a mission to maintain and make a mess when I trim it.

I didn’t get as much cleared as I wanted, my bin filled up surprisingly quickly but that was fine because by then I was tired and sick of bugs jumping out at me. I did manage to salvage the chicken wire from underneath for future use, very recyclingable of me.

So I left my garden “extension” like this, not very cleared but with high hopes of hitting it again on the upcoming long weekend:

In other gardening adventure news we have had one casualty in the current garden bed, a thyme seedling has mysteriously shrivelled up and died, but the strawberries are doing amazingly well, including the one I rescued & divided. One of those even has new flowers (and that means strawberries will follow!) and I saw some bees humming around them too.  My gardening book says that strawberries are self pollinating but good pollination is essential for quality fruit so yay for bees!

I’ve been using my herbs carefully while they get established. Selective trimming of pieces for my cooking while encouraging bushy growth. Last night I made Spaghetti Meatballs flavoured solely from my baby herb garden and I swear it was the most delicious thing I have ever cooked!

Oh and look! Carrot & spinach seedlings! And since I took this photo the spinach has gone mental, they all have their first “real” set of leaves, you know, the ones that look like the actual finished plant:

I have a 100% strike rate on the Pak Choi (which apparently should be harvest-able in about 2 weeks, I find that hard to believe), a 50% strike rate on my beans which are growing very fast and I will need that garden bed ready for them soon.

If you look really close you can see one lonely leek seedling in the left hand most row, 4 cells back! Ohh!

I thought there was still nothing from either the celery or the leeks but I after looking at this photo I noticed a tiny lonely leek seedling, can you see it?

I read in the same gardening book that they can take between 21 days and a whole month to sprout! I also read in my book that I can actually plant a few of the other seeds I bought. I mis-read the packet: I read “plant indoors in winter…” aww but it’s spring, and I put it down…actually it goes on to say, “or early spring outdoors…” oops, I thought I had a longer attention span that that! So I have another mini plastic greenhouse now planted with cheery tomato, chili & capsicum, yay!

* Quick random rant: is weather “bomb” not the most over-used non-scientific meteorological term ever? I’m not trying to down play it, Auckland did get hammered by said “bomb” but weather peeps, if you want to be taken seriously can we have some science please? Science will always trump sensationalism!

Sewing on a Saturday

It’s a good thing I had a super productive Saturday because on Sunday life conspired against me and I missed another Fabric Hoarders meet up 😦 That’s three in a row and it is becoming a very bad habit.

Dear Life,

Stop it.

That is all.

From Saturday’s efforts, some sewing for me:

I finally finished Simplicity 2364, view B, which I started before we started packing up to move.

I didn’t really have the energy to do a full photo shoot just for one top so I promise to take some photos of it on after I make another item to go with it.

I used to own a rtw top exactly like this pattern that I really liked. Unfortunately it was poorly made and stretched out to the point that it was 2 sizes too big for me. So when I saw this pattern I grabbed it quick.

My first version was in a black NZ merino (un-blogged) and I still wear it even though it has a couple of small holes in it now.

Merino is just so soft and comfy to wear! Seriously if you haven’t made anything out of merino yet and you see some BUY IT! I’ll give you bonus points if it is NZ Merino, the best kind, even though I am biased.

Coral really isn’t Scarlett’s best colour but it looks great on me

This is my second version and I used a coral coloured jersey with a silver metallic dot. I bought 2.0 meters from the Fabric Warehouse Pop Up Store in February, it set me back a huge $3/m.

This photo is intentionally blurry (ok, not really)

I want to make a third version from a dark grey merino in my stash but do you think I can find that pattern?


Seriously, I have turned my whole room upside down and nothing!

It’s just plain rude really.

Grrr…I complained to Nerdy Husband about it:

Me: Seriously, I have no idea where it is!

NH: Well, how much did it cost? Can you still buy it?

Me: (*sullenly) I suppose if I wait for a Simplicity sale on sewingpatterns.com I could probably get it for $1.99

NH: Are you kidding? Then just buy a new one! (*walks away shaking head)

Me: (*muttering) It’s the principal…plus I already traced my size 😦

Yes, you read it here peeps: official permission to go pattern shopping has been obtained!

So I guess I’ll be buying a new one then…except that we all know patterns don’t like to travel alone so it will undoubtedly arrive with a few friends in tow 😉

Of course you know what will turn up after it does arrive don’t you?

After I finished my new top I stated on another. It was already cut and just needed stitching up.

According to my Evernote notebook I bought this fabric (“Traffic” interlock in “flame”) in December 2009 from Spotlight Innaloo (Perth) for $10.95/m, that’s some good stash-bustin’!

But then I ran out of grey thread and despite the strong memory of buying another spool in Spotlight here in Wellington it is also missing.

Do sewing items hide from you in your house too? Or is it just me?

Then I moved on to some requested Nerdy Husband sewing, it was great success, but I’ll tell you all about that tomorrow 🙂

In gardening related news: I have seeds up! Yay! All my Pak Choi have sprouted in the mini green-house thing. Plus there are a couple of small spinach seeds peeking out and maybe one carrot in the garden…or it could be a weed, we’ll see 😉 Also there appears to be some disturbance on the beans side so perhaps there will be more spouting when I get home from work today.

Edible Garden – Stage One Update

On the weekend Nerdy Husband roped me into some demolition work.

It’s a long story.

However, to be fair, after a couple of swings of the hammer I didn’t need much more encouragement to stay and help.

Demolitioning is fun!

And also tiring, so not much sewing to report but I did manage to get a pattern traced off for the requested rugby shirt.

Nerdy Hubby has mentioned it at least 5 times so I thought I better show some progress.

I traced off a polo shirt pattern from an old Burda magazine, May 2007 I think, it’s one of those rare issues where they threw in some decent men’s patterns. I’ll be comparing this pattern to his favourite rtw rugby shirt and adjust it to suit.

I am trying to get back into the habit of doing a little bit of sewing each evening, it’s easy now that I can just pop into my room. Tonight I plan to get the sleeves onto the Simplicity 2364 top I am making – here is a sneak peak I posted pre-move.

I have completely lost the entire pattern and instructions somewhere, I am confident they will show up eventually, like a lot of other things I thought I “lost” after unpacking – a magazine box of Burda magazines and an entire pre-cut project to name just two. Not having something like instructions hasn’t stopped me in the past but it is annoying, I quite like that pattern!

So instead of sewing I have a quick edible garden update for those interested 😉

Before the demolitioning I got my herb seedlings & seeds planted:

I started on Saturday morning by planting my tomato plants across the back.

After being bundled together for a couple of days supporting each other a few of them packed a sad around lunchtime and fell over decided to recline on the dirt:

They started to pick up later in the day and I hoped that the fence would protect them from the wind while their stems strengthen and thicken up. It sort of worked but typical Wellington, after I planted these on a calm Saturday the wind picked up over night and on Sunday it was quite gusty. These poor little guys were flopping all over the place! Lucky I found some bamboo stakes in our cupboard of randomness and I tied them up which helped a lot! Our back yard is pretty sheltered but if it becomes a huge problem I am already planning a small wind break.

This boring gap is a row of carrots & two rows of spinach seeds:

And here are my herbs!

Parsley & Coriander:

Thyme, Sage & Oregano:

I just realised I don’t have any Basil! This shall be remedied next weekend…oh wait, I don’t have any room…well I guess I’ll just have to remedy that too!

My temporary plant markers are made from a cut up yoghurt pot. I couldn’t bring myself to pay real money for the ones in the shop so I improvised. Later I will make a more permanent solution. I am thinking either flattened spoons with punched letters like these (would mean finding or buying metal letter punches which are exxy!) or maybe painted rocks like this (appeals to the arty side of me).

Unsurprisingly Geologist Husband approves of the painted rocks idea.

To finish up I planted some seeds for later transplant, they’re not very exciting yet but you know…

Celery, Leek, Pak Choi + Beans that I got on a whim while at Bunnings:

I bought the $4 seed raising trays as opposed to the $12 trays. Apparently the $8 cost saving means my lids are less wind resistant, so masking tape it is.

I didn’t promise this would be glamorous 😉

But look at them all nice and steamy and germinating! Well I hope, I have no idea how long any of these seeds will take to sprout! 🙂 I should probably read the rest of the seed packet, after the bit about “plant into trays early spring”, I get points for enthusiasm though, right? I am guessing the beans will be up first so it might have been a mistake to plant them with the others, oh well, that’s just part of the fun.

Edible Garden – Stage One progress

Caution: The following is not sewing 😉

Has anyone else noticed that us creative types often share other similar hobbies? I know a lot of you are also into knitting or crochet, which doesn’t seem like too much of a leap. Or cooking, but then who doesn’t love food, huh?!

The biggest leap I’ve noticed is running. There are several blogger’s I follow that I have discovered also run. I do too, but I’ve never mentioned it here. I am a new runner, just mastered the 5k and feeling strong, never thought I’d ever write that sentence!

Or maybe we all just like to collect hobbies, just like our fabric and patterns.

Ok, maybe I am reading too much into it, no one base any important social research on my blogging musings ok?  🙂

Anyway, the other hobby/activity I have noticed a few other sewing bloggers share is gardening. Me too! So I thought I would share.

The previous weekend was amazing weather here in Wellington. On Saturday I did a bit of sewing but on Sunday I decided it was time to go outside and finally enjoy my garden.

Nerdy Hubby got dragged to Bunnings where I acquired a big garden fork, some new gloves,  a hand trowel and hand fork. On the way to the plant section four 40L bags of compost was also added to the trolley. Unfortunately I wasn’t the only one with grand gardening plans and the selection of greenery left a little to be desired.

The plan was for strawberries and herbs and I did manage to snag two new strawberry plants whose tags promise much award-winning fruit. The herb selection however was dire and as we headed for the checkout sans-herbs I did spot a small selection of plants from Awapuni Nurseries (Palmerston North).

I had seen these guys on-line but was hesitant to buy until I saw the actual product. The Bunnings selection was sparse but from what I saw I resolved to go home and order from them online.  Clearing my new patch of ground and digging in the compost would probably be enough of a mission for Sunday anyway so I’d get it all ready for when my new herbs arrived mid-week.

This is the patch of ground in question:

It is a small existing raised bed, if a little sad in structure, on the south side of our section and gets plenty of sun. This side also drains well and the fence will protect taller plants from the occasional gentle breath of Wellington’s famous breeze. The house is to the right, out-of-frame, and with access from my kitchen via the back door this makes it the perfect location.

So Stage One is to start my garden here and if I am any good (i.e. plants are still green and edible in a month or two) I will expand. The grand plan (Stage Two and beyond) is to re-do this raised bed with macrocarpa sleepers or similar and continue down the section to the corner where a second, and much larger, raised bed exists in similar overgrown fashion.

So, first I set to work clearing the scruddy plants away. Don’t worry about that camellia, I rescued it as best I could and relocated it. I give it maybe a 70% chance of survival but if it does die off I do have like 20 more of them dotted around the place! 😉 I also found a raggedy old strawberry plant that I put aside to divide and re-plant.

I broke up the soil with my big fork and then dug in my compost. I disturbed many very fat worms (which are great for the soil) but I didn’t encounter any weta, which is very good because those guys creep me out! It was lucky I got four bags of the compost as the soil level was very low, dried out and generally sad looking.

Here is the lovely black soil waiting to give life to some yummy delights. That green bush above it is coming through from the neighbours side and when I find the saw it will be lopped off before it does any more damage to the fence!

Strawberries are planted and looking very happy:

The left row and bottom plant in the right row is the divided scraggy plant I rescued, I am hoping it will pick up now that it has some space and plenty of light. The two top plants in the right row are my new strawberries, it will be interesting to see how different the fruits are compared to the other variety (assuming they are different and the rescued plant isn’t too old for fruiting).

Plenty of room left for the herbs so after I gave them a nice water I went inside and internetted myself some herbs from the Awapuni Nursery website.

And here they are! They arrived on Wednesday (they dispatch on Tuesdays from Palmerston North, how quick it that?!)

I ordered:

  • Coriander
  • Parsley – Italian Flatleaf
  • Oregano
  • Thyme
  • Sage

…and because you get free postage when you order 6 or more items and they didn’t have any basil I also added:

  • Tomato – Moneymaker

On the Sunday night I dreamt about lovely big heads of broccoli and lush green silver beet and by Monday morning I had quite convinced myself I was going to be an amazing gardener so during my lunch break I ordered some vegetable seeds from Garden Stuff in Prebbleton (near Christchurch).

Oohh! They also arrived on Wednesday, posted on Tuesday!


I kept to things I know think are easy to grow and that we eat regularly:

  • Carrot (Imperator 58, 1g of seeds)
  • Celery (Utah 52-70, 1000+ seeds)
  • Leek (Musselburgh, 200+ seeds)
  • Pak Choi (Extra Dwarf, 350+ seeds)
  • Spinach (Chivas F1, 100 seeds)
  • Spring Onion (Ishikura, 2g of seeds)
  • Mesclun (Original, 2g of seeds)
  • Mesclun (Oriental, 2g of seeds)
  • Sweet Pepper (California Wonder, 50 seeds)
  • Chili Pepper (Cayenne Long Red, 50 seeds)
  • Free Gift: 30cm Pot Plant Tomato (5 seeds) Awesome!

Now I am not really doing this as a money saving exercise (much like my sewing!) but more for my fun and our health. Gardening is very good for you I have read, both as a stress reliever and also you tend to eat more green stuff if it’s available in your garden. However, let’s back up a bit here, each of these seed packets only cost me $2 and the seedlings above were just over $4 each bunch so even if I am moderately successful that is a lot of food for very little money!

Not all of these seeds can be planted straight away but this weekend I will add to my growing gardening arsenal some seed raising mix and trays and plant what I can. Some can go direct into the ground so depending on how much room I have left after the herbs go in I may need to clear part of that second bed this weekend, weather permitting.

But, there will be sewing too 😉