Tag Archives: garden

Seeds go Postal

9 Jul

A bit of a thrill today when seeds arrived via courier. The reasons I ordered them online were:

  • I was getting cross at the lack of herbs my local garden shop supplied (they’re great with veges and flowers though). Three times I went there looking for German Chamomile, with no luck for seeds or seedlings.
  • Getting things in the mail that aren’t bills is exciting.
  • It’s inexpensive.

It’s good to know there is no excuse for not planting your favourite herbs. It’s also a lovely winter thing to do so you can get some of the spring planting planned.



Winter Cuttings

7 Jul

I took some cuttings tonight from Teucrium which I snaffled from a friends garden. This is such an easy way to get free plants. It’s the kind of thing I do without planning – you don’t need to know where you’ll put the plants when they’re big, otherwise you’ll never get round to doing it. The more you try, the more likely you are to have success. Plus it only takes 10 minutes. Teucrium is a really easy one to practise on in your kitchen. I also use this technique with great success on hydrangeas, lavenders, rosemary and lonicera.

  • Put some propagation mix in a container (I use seed-raising mix because I am lazy), and dampen.
  • Cut just below a nodule. This is the bit that goes into the soil. Depending on how long your original stem is, you may be able to get more than one cutting from each stem. My cuttings vary from 5-10cm in length.
  • Cut the soft wobbly top of the stem, and gently pull off the lower leaves.
  • With the secateurs, make a little wound at the base of the cutting. Dip this bit in rooting hormone or manuka honey and stick into the soil.
  • Put in a spot where the temperature is constant and mild. Keep the soil moist, or they die, which happens to me quite a bit.
  • Check out Yates for more cuttings info.




Snow Prep

18 Jun

Apparently it’s going to snow lots over the next few days. Christchurch as a city gets a bit panicky in the snow. We’ve had snow in the city every winter for the past few years – not a whole lot – but it’s still a big novelty. Most things shut down. Which must be hugely entertaining for the Canadians I think.

I thought it best to get the garden ready this afternoon. The thing about gardening though, is that weather happens. You can only do so much to help the plants. Sometimes they die. That’s life.  My task list was pretty small:

  • stake all the large broadbeans (a couple of months ago it snowed and they got hammered). They look a bit wonky in the pic below. That’s because I ran out of tights to tie them up. I will have cold legs.
  • pick all the ripe limes, lemons and mandarins
  • tuck the seedlings away in their house
  • put the shovel and secateurs close to the garage entrance
  • admire my winter garden while it still looks good . . . because next week it may all be under water
  • open the doors of the house to give it a big dose of fresh air before we hunker down


What’s quite good about this Sustainability Wench bizzo, is that if the shops shut, I can:

The hardest bit will be keeping the small fry entertained.

Facebook Fruit

10 May

I came home from work today to find this on my doorstep:


I had arranged via Facebook, to swap Granny Smiths from a friend for a jar of my Feijoa Jam. I’ll stew and bottle them to stock my cupboards with winter vitamins.

Facebook and Twitter certainly have their icky, weird, and dangerous sides if not monitored properly. But I’ve used both the social media sites quite a bit this Autumn to barter. Last month I exchanged my last bag of homegrown tomatoes for a large bag of my favourite coffee via Twitter. As the trees have started dropping their fruit, I’ve sourced pears, quince, figs, apples, peaches, feijoas, lemons, and glass jars from friends via Facebook. Returning the favour with gifts of bottled fruit or jam is essential.

I’ve had great feedback from people who are enjoying the fruit-swaps. Normally their fruit would go to waste. I love how we can use modern technology to promote such an old-fashioned concept. Imagine if everyone with a vege garden purposefully grew a glut of something to swap, or even give away to people who need it. Neighbourly-love and all that.

Tonight we had a fruit crumble made with blackboy peaches, pears, and feijoa jam. All sourced from my street and the next street over. It tasted delicious. Now we just need to find a neighbourhood cow for the cream.

Sustainability Wenchy-Updates

9 May

I’ve had some great feedback and ideas since starting this blog, and also have updates on some of my experiments, so I thought I’d share them with you.

Porridge Saves the Day

Porridge and Peaches

I had some tasty and simple (in style of Sustainability Wench) ideas via my Facebook page on the topic of porridge.

My friend Joanna recommended this to me:

“Before serving porridge mash banana into the bottom of each bowl then pour porridge over the top. Continue to serve as per usual. As you eat the top of the porridge the banana underneath cooks, until eventually you eat down far enough to strike the caramelised treasure- yummo!!!”

Cindy suggested this:

“I have porridge every morning made with milk (made just for me, kids have cereal at the mo) and add ground linseed and when cook pour over frozen blueberries – yummmmmo. Sometimes I get it ready at night and let the oats soften and soak in the milk”.

And my favourite comes from Belinda who recommends:

“Sometimes I make chocolate porridge (although not for breakfast) by adding chunks of rich, dark chocolate…finished off with cream of course”.

Selling The Goods

Plant Sale

We’ve had the plant stall out by the street for five days. Yesterday an Aloe and coriander seeds got nicked. Boo to them. Will now only put it out when I’m home. One woman I met who bought some hellebores, is keen to exchange bottled pears for native seedlings. Warm Fuzzies all round.

Aloe Aloe Aloe

Aloe Face

Am still LOVING this pampering once a week, with no freaky reactions. It’s not for everyone, but it suits my skin type and is super-easy.

Crazy Chemical Free Shampoo

Baking soda

This was perhaps the weirdest experiment I’ve ever undertaken, but I’m very much still enjoying the results. Last week I had to use the dregs of the shampoo as we’d run out of baking soda. After the first wash, my hair felt all nice and shiny, but all subsequent washes resulted in limp static icky hair. Back to the baking soda.

Aphids Suck

Aphid juice

Much to my delight, this actually worked. I used the treatment three times (every few days). I kept the mixture in easy reach in the kitchen so I could Grab and Spray. Once I forgot to rinse the plants. The plants survived. No sign of aphids for the past couple of weeks at all.

Compost Love


Now the rain has been falling, my compost is a thriving hub of worms. They have used no contraceptives at all, based on the huge increase in numbers. I’ve been able to dig right to the bottom (access from the side), and use the delicious compost at the bottom to feed my broad beans. Winning with the compost.

A Day of Hippiness

2013-04-11 09.19.53

My home-brewed rosehip and almond oil has been lovely to use. Still a bit weird-smelling, but it feels great on my skin. I think it’s lifespan is fairly short though, so I’ll need to stop using it in a week or so. Next year I’ll make less, and give more away so that it doesn’t go to waste.




Butterfly Magic

5 May


There was a bit of excitement in our house this morning as we discovered one of the Monarch caterpillars had finally ‘hatched’.

We planted four swan plants in summer under a little tree to provide some shelter from overhead predators. They may not have any enemies from above, but I was too lazy to Google. We ended up with ten caterpillars. They got massive. Embarrassingly so. Then all but one disappeared. People told me they build their wee chrysalisses (plural?) anywhere, and that they travel interstate to make their grand transformation. Like going to LA for plastic surgery. Those People may have just been being kind. The caterpillars may have died.

The one we saw drying its wings this morning emerged from the sole chrysalis on one of our swan plants. It was a very nice surprise in the middle of Autumn.

I’m a big fan of butterfly gardens. They add another livestock component to your garden. Throw in some swan plants, sunflowers, marigolds, and zinnia in the spring. Check out progress of your caterpillars/butterflies daily, preferably while walking around your garden in gumboots with a glass of sauvignon blanc.

For butterfly gardens in New Zealand, check out Green Urban Living for some ideas.

Selling the Goods

4 May


Yesterday I helped my good friend, future bridesmaid, and business partner, clear out a big part of her garden. This involved digging out masses of hellebores (winter roses).  Kàren transplanted a few of these to a new garden bed, but this still left us with a large pile of the plants. I was going to biff them, but apparently people spend quite a bit on these in the shops.

This morning I set up a wee stall outside my house with the help of my six year-old. I made sure we only used materials we found in our garage (ie, free). The stall has directions for payment (through the old-fashioned letter slot in our front door), so we’re relying on people’s honesty + karma. I also added some of my extra Aloe Vera plants to the stall. It’ll be great to cover some of the cost of the native plants we’ve bought for Kàren’s new native garden, but we have no expectations.

We didn’t sell any today, but we’ll keep it out during the week (bringing it in at night) to see how it goes. If they don’t sell, I’ll find a spot in my garden for them. The big bonus is that the six year-old gets very excited by a shop on our lawn, and it’s also a lovely way to meet people in our community, all of whom seem really normal.