Before Christmas I introduced you to my friend Janis in New Zealand (click here for her first guest post) when she shared her holiday food traditions with recipes. She so enjoyed guest posting (as did you from the post views and comments) she’s back! This time she’s here to provide a window into the progress of her food garden. As I write it is 12 degrees Fahrenheit; I can no more believe there could be this type of summer gardening going on in the world than I can hide my supreme envy of the productivity she’s achieved….all in containers!
It’s summer in NZ. It started early this year – in November- and looks as if it will be long and hot. That’s all good for the growing and we try to grow as much as we can.
We are frustrated self sufficiency freaks….we have 5 acres of land waiting for us to build up North in Matakana We have been renting for nearly 7 years now due to a combination of bad health and bad luck. There is very little usable soil to plant into.
For the first four years we grew nothing except for a few palm seedlings in pots. Then we realized –we can’t grow in the ground but we can grow in pots! We set up a black plastic compost bin in to turn our kitchen waste into black gold and got started! We haven’t looked back since. We grow most of our salad and herbs; for fruit we grow lemons, limes, red figs and Pepinos (a small type of melon).
We have some unusual fruit here-the others include Tamarillos (tree tomatoes) and Feijoas (a very hard fruit to describe but lovely). Naturally we also have Kiwi fruit too-but that is better known since Zespri has started marketing it around the world.
I love wandering out and picking a lettuce for lunch or a couple of lemons for making sorbet. We may not be living our dream yet, but we are having fun growing food in our suburban backyard and we proved that you don’t need a big garden to grow your own food.
This is what we are growing this season…..
This tomato was growing in our compost:
We planted it and hey! Free tomatoes!
This Pepino is a perennial bush and is growing lots of fruit this year. It is smaller, sweeter sort of melon. We eat it with Parma ham as a starter – yum!
Our red figs are gorgeous stuffed with soft goat’s cheese and drizzled with honey…..
We like peppers. Two years ago we grew red hot chilies and we are still eating the dried ones even though we gave hundreds away to friends! We also made Chili Sweet Sauce. This year’s are yellow, orange and red. Some of them are still starting to flower.
We like to grow a selection of herbs. We have just planted some out in a small bed; thyme, three types of sage, parsley, coriander, dill and oregano in the central pot. Those are more peppers in the pots behind. We also grow bay and basil.
We happily mix herbs and salads into our tropical plantings in pots. Here are more peppers and basil amongst the lilies and bromeliads on the left. There is mint amongst the frangipani and bougainvillea on the right.
Lettuces grow fast. Here are Oak leaf, Cos, Rocket (Arugula) and Red Radicchio. That is dill nearest the camera.
In addition to our little garden we have discovered the treat of scavenging from the local area. Butia palm trees are common in Auckland and their berries make a fantastic jam. We collect them every year and have 50 trees (from seed) ready for planting in Matakana.
Needless to say – we can’t wait to get into 5 acres so that we can grow it, cook it, eat it and sell at the local market! Until then, we will grow in pots and keep recycling our kitchen waste instead of putting it down the waste disposal in the sink.
Come try Janis’ Sweet Chili Sauce recipe!
A bit more on Janis…
Janis first visited New Zealand in 1983 and loved it; she moved there from the UK in 1985 where she met and married her ‘Kiwi’ husband John. Janis and John live by the beach in Orewa growing as much as they can in pots! They love growing, cooking and organic principles. They have recently bought 5 acres of land at Matakana, about an hour north of NZ’s largest city, Auckland. They plan to build a sustainable, eco friendly life in the village and sell their produce at the local farmer’s market.
Janis’s day job is as a speaker and business facilitator. Her specialist subject area is workplace wisdom and development of better thinking. You can see her work at www.workplacewisdom.co.nz.
Her knowledge of the brain has been enhanced by her experience of a benign brain tumour in 2007. She has successfully rewired her brain through practice and despite physical brain damage she is brighter than before her operation! She is a living example of the brain’s ability to rewire itself endlessly throughout our lives – as long as we try! Her thoughts about this and other topics are regularly posted on her blog www.janisgrummitt.com and her art is on www.artfind.co.nz