Garden lore

“As for roses, you could not help feeling that roses are the only flowers that impress people at garden parties; the only flowers that everybody is certain of knowing.”

The Garden Party by Katherine Mansfield (1922)

The value of growing your own veg

In strictly economic terms, the costs of growing your own vegetables can exceed the money you will save, particularly if you are buying plastic bags of potting mix and compost, fertilisers and sprays. Add in an hourly value for your labour and the economics look even more questionable. But of course the pleasure of harvesting your own vegetables and fruit, as well as the taste, the freshness, knowing what has been used on both the ground and the crops and the better nutritional value of eating straight from the garden far outweigh economic considerations.

That said, one of the predicted outcomes of the current drought is that the cost of buying fresh vegetables will skyrocket so it will be more economic now than before to grow your own. That is as long as you have water to spare for the vegetable garden. Asian greens will give you a very quick turnaround and you can be cutting tender young leaves in a matter of a few weeks. You can also be sowing salad greens and now is the time to get winter vegetables into the ground. They do their growing before winter and then hold in the ground when temperatures are low so that you can harvest when required. It is a bit late for root vegetables, though fennel is worth a try. The classic winter veg are the brassicas (cabbage, cauli, broccoli or cavolo nero for the sophisticates), winter spinach, silver beet and the like. Just remember, you are going to have to water thoroughly and often until the rains return.

First published in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission.