Belladonna Bess

An edible garden in Wellington, NZ

Mulch! April 27, 2013

Filed under: Garden — belladonnabess @ 3:48 pm

11 bales of barley straw arrived yesterday. It may take me a while to use them all, but I’m planning on burying most of my garden knee deep in mulch for a bit.

Planting: more spring bulbs – crocus (Jean d’Arc, Snow Bunting, in the side garden, and Fiesta mix in a pot), Freesia (double mix, Golden Wave, Red Diamond in pots so I can have the scent inside when they are flowering), tulip (Kees Nellis, my favourite tulip because it’s so bright and cheerful, also in a pot).

Weeding: the first of my main vege beds.

Also planting: seedlings of pak choi, tat soi and celery in the bed mentioned above. Cordyline ‘Midnight Star”, along the side of the house in one of the messy areas. I’m hoping it will raise the tone a bit, the rest of that area is mostly weeds, with a couple of renga renga lilies.

Transplanting: various lettuce, NZ spinach and brassica seedlings into the same bed.

Search-and-destroying: convolvulus. I did battle with the gooseberry in order to get at the convolvulus roots. I got a good quantity dug up.

Inoculating: I planted sweet peas in the side garden (white and dark maroon, like most of the rest of that garden). They are looking rather pathetic and spindly. I realised that this may be because they are planted in compost, which will never have grown sweet peas, or any legume, before. This means no rhizobia, and no root nodules. So I grabbed a little soil from a garden where sweet peas had thrived, and sprinkled it around them. I hope that will do the trick.

Mulching: newly planted seedlings, bed with carrots and parnsips in it, under the hazelnut trees and random other bits of garden. One bale down, ten to go.

Eating: chard, kale, carrots, pears, the last of the apples and raspberries.


Drought’s broken April 20, 2013

Filed under: Garden — belladonnabess @ 1:26 pm

Ok, the drought’s broken, we get the message. Now how about it stops raining for a bit and I can get the garden in order.

Planting: last weekend I got into one of my beds, weeded it out and planted broccoli, pak choi, spring onions, rocket and spinach. There were already a few feral broccoli seedlings in there so I left them as well. The rocket seedlings were overgrown leftovers being sold cheap, all I need them to do is bolt and reseed my garden. For some reason the rocket’s disappeared from my feral collection.

Germinating: I’ve got a nice range of new lettuce varieties from the lettuces I allowed to bolt over the summer. It also looks like I have a bit of miner’s lettuce. Give it another week of warm, wet conditions and there should be all sorts sprouting up. Although possibly mostly fungi.

Sprouting: signs of life from all the lovely bulbs I planted a few weeks back. I know it’s only April, but I can’t wait for spring!

Eating: pears. Yum, yum, yum. Doyenne du comice is truly one of the most delicious fruits ever. My espalier is looking pretty good, with about 8 fruit this year. Also carrots, a few remaining zucchini, a few apples, raspberries and strawberries, a bit of chard and plenty of herbs.

Also eating: sprouts. I found the great sprout making kits I used at the Mars Desert Research Station on sale for half price (still not cheap). So I bought some and now I’m enjoying sprouts. Great to harvest some of my fresh vegetables on a day like this or a cold, dark evening without leaving the kitchen.

Gloating: I bought a half-dead Phalaenopsis orchid for $10 last spring. I haven’t always been successful with these, but I figured it was worth a try since they are normally $40 plus. Not only has it revived, it has resprouted off the old flower spike, and has a completely new flower spike as well.


Time for bulbs March 29, 2013

Filed under: Garden — belladonnabess @ 3:17 pm

Planting: Freesia “Vienna”, Freesia “Montana”, Tulip “White Dream”, Actaea simplex “Black Negligee”, Ranunculus “Fiesta Mahogany”, Narcissus ‘Paperwhite’, hyachinth ‘Carnegie’, Fritaillaria camschatsensis, Fritillaria meleagris, Narsiccus ‘Thaila’, Leptinella ‘Platt’s Black’, Euphorbia glauca, white alyssum, white pansies. Bulbs aren’t in urgent need of water, and I have enough from the bucket in the shower to keep the rest alive.

Eating: lots over the last few months, although not as much vege diversity as usual. Zucchini obviously, lots of apples, tomatoes and capsicum from pots (I froze several kilos of tomatos, plus my own pasta and pizza sauces). And I was extremely excited to find 3 hazelnuts on the ground while weeding under my hazelnut trees. They tasted like any other hazelnuts, but the satisfaction improved them a lot. I wasn’t sure whether I’d managed to get any pollinated so now I know I can. Rasperries are going again. Very small strawberries due to the lack of water, but it’s like they crammed a full size strawberry of flavour in one miniature berry. The apples too, although they are a slightly more normal size.


Welcome bees! November 23, 2012

Filed under: Garden — belladonnabess @ 11:19 am

Eating: broad beans

Picking: sweet peas (feral ones, all lilac in colour but with a lovely scent)

Weeding: not enough. It’s got totally out of control.

Procrastinating: I’m so far behind. Everything is just an awful mess right now. I barely know where to start.

Spotting: a REAL BEE. I’m so excited! I’ve lived here since 2006 and I have never seen a bee in my garden. It isn’t that I haven’t looked. I spend hours in the garden looking at the creepy crawlies. I’ve seen hundreds of the flies that pretend to be bees and every time when I look closely they have little fly antennae and not bee antennae. But this one…. yes that really is a real bee.

I know there are some beekeepers that live in Khandallah, but they are a fair hike away and their bees obviously didn’t get as far as me. But either there are some newer, closer beekeepers, or their bees finally figured out that I have a garden full of lovely bee flowers all year round just waiting for them to find me.

Welcome bees!


Gardening weather October 13, 2012

Filed under: Garden — belladonnabess @ 5:50 pm

After a couple of vile days, the weather cleared enough this afternoon to do a little gardening.

Planting: shallots, garlic, California red onions (yes, I know I’m rather late with all this), white foxgloves, hellebores and a Pimelea.

Clearing: weeding is too mild a term for what I’ve been doing.

Discovering: I still have an oregano plant, a surprisingly large pizza thyme and some strawberries on my overgrown weedy bank between the two grapevines.

Transplanting: I finally found a spot for my very robust orange day lily. It’s been by the path near the front door for as long as I’ve had this house, and it’s thrived on the neglect. But not even I think that orange day lilies and salmon-pink roses make a good colour combination. Since I can’t move the vicarious rose, I found a new home for the day lily on a sunny and dry bank. It looks like the perfect spot to me.

Anticipating: the potatoes growing out of one of my compost bins look so healthy, I’m thinking I’ve got a good chance of new potatoes for Christmas.


Sprung! October 8, 2012

Filed under: Garden — belladonnabess @ 5:47 pm

OK, it’s definitely spring now. I spend a great weekend in the garden – I had a load of compost delivered and was finally able to start planting the ornamental area down the side of my house. It’s not really a good environment for edibles, so I’m focusing on ornamentals, especially interesting and scented ones.

Sowing (in pots): celery, dwarf beans (3 varieties), romanesco broccoli

Germinating: carrots, including the white carrot that I saved seed from last summer. It was a good carrot, growing big without getting tough, from Koanga, but germination was poor. But the saved seed looks very successful. The only one where germination looks possibly dodgy was the purple carrot which was about 3 years after its expiry date.

Anticipating: broad beans. “Dwarf early green” has some pods.

Flowering: I’ve still got weird and wonderful daffodils.

Eating: the last of my yams (made a yam curry – as authentic as Tandoori chicken pizza since oca is Andean and I made a south Indian-style curry. But tasted good – the sour oca tasted great with the coconut milk). Silverbeet. Lettuce, miner’s lettuce, and broccoli and calendula flowers.

Apologising: I should really put some pictures up. I’ve been so lazy lately.

And from last weekend…

Pruning: my Cape gooseberry. It spends the winter protecting my little lemon from frost, then gets a good prune come spring.

Planting: Italian honeysuckle (yes a non-invasive one), 3 native clematis cultivars, a Podophyllum, daphne, Viburnum x burkwoodii, 3 dark red Heuchera, 2 different forms of Metrosideros carminea (the shrubby version and the climber), several rengarenga lilies (with more to go) and two hellebores. I’ve probably forgotten something, and there’s still a bit more to plant.



Daylight savings October 1, 2012

Filed under: Garden — belladonnabess @ 9:16 pm

On the one hand, I don’t like getting up an hour earlier. On the other, I can do gardening after work – yay!

Sowing: zucchini, spaghetti squash, hybrid spaghetti squash, cucumber, basil, various tomato varieties. All in posts in my mini-greenhouse.

Also sowing: parsnip (last weekend), carrots, radish, beetroot (the week before).

Germinating: radish only so far.

Wondering: if many of my seeds will germinate. I notice a lot of my seed packets have past their best before dates. Worth a try, should still be time to get more of some if they don’t come up.

And an update from the weekend…

Tying: my pear espaliers and my Candace grape.

Pruning: a bit of belated pruning on my pear espaliers and my apples.

Blossoming: both pears. I’ve cut every blossom off Buerre Bosc, it’s far too small to be allowed to fruit. But Doyenne du Comice is a couple of years older and much bigger, and successfully produced a fruit last year. So I can let that have a few more fruit this year.

Breaking: my Blush Babe is the most advanced, but all the apples apart from Adore are now at budbreak. Adore is in the coldest spot and is the latest season apple. Blush Babe is planted about 30 cm in front (i.e. to the north) of my big black compost bins. So it’s probably got just a bit of a microclimate.

Setting: my gooseberry is already setting fruit.

Fruiting: my northern highbush blueberries are actually fruiting. I’ve eaten two fruit. Just amazingly delicious.

Weeding: a big job right now. The vegetable and berry gardens are ok (although far from perfect), but the area on the bank is quite out of control. I’m working on it, but it’s slow.