Belladonna Bess

An edible garden in Wellington, NZ

Yes I have been gardening… November 29, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — belladonnabess @ 9:23 pm

but haven’t had time to write it down.


Asparagus November 23, 2009

Filed under: Garden — belladonnabess @ 9:22 pm

Weeding: my asparagus bed. Not the simplest job, as it is surrounded by a metre high windbreak and then the top is covered with bird netting. I had to pull the windbreak apart to get to the weeds.

And what weeds they were! I have never seen deadnettles the size of the ones I pulled out. It was the biggest, lushest and most thoroughly verdant weed crop I have ever grown. Not surprising when I look back and discover that the square metre that is my asparagus bed will filled with coffee grounds, sheep pellets, blood and bone, worm castings and compost from my bin. The strawberries in the strawberry bed directly below are also rather large.

Planting: the asparagus seedlings I had in pots. I left the ones that were in the ground, as the book said not to transplant them until next year. My whole asparagus bed will have far too many plants for the recommended spacing, but I really want asparagus and I have so little space. I’ve generally found that most vegetables grow fine planted much closer than recommended as long as the soil is fertile enough. The condition of my giant weeds suggests that the soil is extremely fertile, but just in case, I remulched the bed after planting the seedlings.

Mulching: well-rotted horse manure, coffee grounds, plus a bit of rok solid and blood and bone, covered with old newspaper and a bit of pea straw.

Reconstructing: the windbreak.

Spotting: some seriously hyperactive earthworms – when I disturbed the soil pulling out weeds they decided to go elsewhere. I’ve never seen such fast worms. Caffeinated earthworms? Also a giant spider on the strawberry net (think it was some sort of wolf spider) and a population of earwigs that appeared to be nesting in the pieces of old stocking that were tying up my windbreak. So my garden has no shortage of invertebrate life.

Eating: strawberries, silverbeet (some gigantic leaves, puts last season’s crop to shame), broad beans, herbs, lettuce, peas, carrots (they are now large enough to be called baby carrots rather than carrot thinings), broccoli.




Bonus time November 18, 2009

Filed under: Garden — belladonnabess @ 10:19 pm

I got home from work a little early, the garden was warm, calm and sunny. So I gardened.

Weeding: note to self – never leave an unmulched bed in an attempt to grow seeds.

Planting: alyssum, for the insects and as a ground cover in some difficult spots. Tomatoes (my seed-grown seedlings) – Russian red, currant, yellow pear and random. Chili (bought seedlings) – hot red, sweet banana and cayenne. Sweetcorn – bought seedlings.

Fixing: the windbreak around the tomatoes, it was getting a bit loose and gales are predicted this weekend.

Budding: my Unique feijoa. It’s mad, I only planted it a few months ago!

Sprouting: Arisaema tortuosum and A. flavum are up.

Smelling: freesias. My bulb timing is crazy, but I’m not complaining. I love freesias.

Eating: broad beans, carrot thinnings, radish, beetroot, sugar beet thinnings, peas, pak choi, strawberries and my very first new potato of the year (Jersey Benne). Not much of anything, but there’s a good range. Radish and beetroot are now finished for a couple of months at least.

Wondering: when I should plant out my asparagus seedlings. It won’t be this weekend, but they do need to go into the garden soon.



Gales November 14, 2009

Filed under: Garden — belladonnabess @ 9:42 pm

Yesterday was windy. Today is gales. I’ve done little gardening, it’s hard to do anything in the garden with the wind like that.

Watering: there hasn’t been any significant rain for about 3 weeks. I tried to put in a stake yesterday and the ground is on the way to being concrete. I used a few watering cans-full. It’s not so bad that I feel the need to get the hose out, and most of the places where the mulch hasn’t been ripped up are still ok.

Netting: I redid the netting over the blueberries – the first lot I use was poor quality and tore. I also had to net the asparagus bed as I found dirt piled over some of my seedlings.

Flowering: the Nemophila I sowed as seeds, I can’t be bothered checking back to find out exactly when.

Budding: my sub-Arctic plenty tomato. That’s very keen of it, the other tomatoes are basically just sitting and sulking in the vile weather.

Dying: one of my dwaft nectarines is on the way out. I suspect a root rot, and there’s not much I can do. I’ve given it some wind shelter and good nutrition, but it’s still declining. The spot it’s in is well-drained and no other plants are sick, so I suspect that it may have had something when I bought it.

Replanting: my ladybug tomato seedling. It took some digging to even find it, I’ve now got 4 cursed blackbirds hanging around and they are doing a huge amount of damage.

Forgetting: I know I observed some other things in the garden that I wanted to note down, but it’s all fallen out of my not-very-alert mind right now.


Gaining and losing November 10, 2009

Filed under: Environment — belladonnabess @ 9:59 pm

It’s freezing and damp and I haven’t been gardening – this is more random environmental thoughts.

I’ve always been interested in environmental issues and have tried to do the “right thing”, whatever that is, but I can’t honestly say I did very well. Progress was slow, although I had been improving a bit over the last couple of years. In general though, I was rather depressed by the scale and diversity of the problems, disillusioned about the direction things were going and confused about the solutions.

Feeling that there was little I could do to solve the world’s problems, I set out to change the only thing that I had any realistic chance of changing – myself. Somehow, the circumstances all seemed to work together, and I have achieved far more than I expected.

Losing: one of my serious commitments for this year was to make less rubbish. There are so many things wrong with our disposable “use once and bury in landfill” mentality, and the “use once and put it in a recycling bin” is frankly not much better. The making, transporting and disposing of all that waste uses a lot of fossil fuel and contributes to carbon emissions, locks up what would otherwise be nice land in stinking landfulls, puts toxic chemicals into the environment and spreads persistent, damaging rubbish into some of the most pristine areas of the world. Reducing waste is a good for the environment in so many different ways.

Losing: the only thing reducing waste is bad for, as far as I can tell, is the economy. Waste, and the wasteful society we live in, generates a lot of economic activity, and the way our society measures wealth says that all that wasting is good. So I’m bad for New Zealand’s GDP, and I’m proud of it.

Gaining: other people’s rubbish. I’ve decided to try the approach of “offsetting” for the waste I do create – it’s hard to avoid buying some things in non-reusable, non-recyclable plastic. So I also stop other people sending stuff to landfill or recycling by using their rubbish, for example taking their old cardboard boxes, newspapers and coffee grounds and using them in my garden. Over the last few months I’ve taken several hundred litres of coffee grounds that would have otherwise been landfilled. This is much more rubbish than I think I’ve actually created over that same period!

Gaining: tastebuds. Reducing waste had meant avoiding most processed food, except as a rare treat. I’m making a lot of the food I eat from scratch (soup, stock, biscuits, breakfast cereal), and now I’m eating less salt, sugar and fat, I seem to be enjoying food more.

Losing: some things were hard to give up – like takeaway coffee. 10 years ago it was a rare treat, but I got sucked into the whole Wellington culture and soon came to depend on it.

Gaining: organisational skills. Taking my own shopping bags everywhere (not just a couple of supermarket bags, but all the small bags for fruit and vegetables etc) took some effort. Also, shopping only rarely at the supermarket means I have to think more about what I need and plan a whole lot better. I’m not the most organised person (understatement), but with practice I now manage. I’m both more organised and less stressed.

Gaining: muscles. I’ve done some hard gardening this year, and I’ve also given up using the lift at work. I mostly did it because I wanted to get fitter, but I’m saving a tiny bit of electricity too. I work on the 12th floor of an office building, so it’s no light sacrifice.

Losing: more than 15 kilos. It turned out that less waste = less waist. Who knew?





Playing in the light November 7, 2009

Filed under: Garden,Photos — belladonnabess @ 9:54 pm

Coloured silverbeetI think it was supposed to rain today, but instead it was a beautiful day with a light southerly that didn’t even touch my garden. I did get some gardening done, but I spent more time than I should have basking in the warmth and taking pictures in the lovely evening light.

Eating: silverbeet (the new batch), celery (nearly the last of it for this year I think), assorted salad greens, strawberries, spring onions, broad beans. I don’t have much of anything, except salad leaves, but I have a reasonable variety.

Planting: tomatoes (cherry red, random and ladybug left to right) beside my deck, pak choi, romanesco broccoli, cabbage (seedlings I grew from seed), saffron crocus bulbs (2 patches in the herb garden and a few bulbs in a pot).

Sowing: more cucurbits – spaghetti squash, zucchini, horned melon, cucumber (all in pots in the greenhouse, plus a couple of cucumbers in the ground). My last lot of cucurbits look pretty bad – looks like a virus only I can’t think how they would all be infected).

Weeding: still ┬ánot quite got the weeds under control. It’s good growing weather now.

Mowing: my small remaining “lawn”, with hand shears.

Photographing: vegetables and my sarracenias.