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Growing good health: Terra Viva

There’s plenty to love about growing your own fruit and vegetables. Terra Viva’s Peter Worsp tells Metropol about the holistic health benefits of this rewarding pastime.


The mental health benefits of gardening in general have been well documented in studies; ranging from early-onset dementia to hyperactive children. The studies pinpoint the calming influence of the outdoors, the physical handling of the soil itself, and the satisfaction of growing your own food.

The benefits of vitamins are well-known, especially the efficacy of vitamin C in citrus, so that old lemon tree that still produces so vigorously may well hold the key to dealing with next winter’s colds. For all age groups vegetables are high in vitamins A and C, antioxidants, minerals, and fibre to protect against cancer and heart disease. We’re all conscious of what goes into and onto our food these days so growing your own gives certainty about sprays etc.

Persuading children to eat anything that’s remotely green and healthy is an uphill battle. However, in case we didn’t know it (!), children have mysterious thought processes and it’s been shown that they’ll happily eat something they’ve grown themselves. So start with simple easy plants like lettuce, radishes, and strawberries (the only fruit that has its seeds on the outside) and you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Growing vegetables gives you a healthy body and mind, a great sense of satisfaction – and a healthy pocket! That convenient back garden vege patch can save you big bucks, especially at this ‘in between’ season of the year.


  1. Herbs are quick, easy, ultra-useful, and happy in pots if space is limited.
  2. Tomatoes are still the leading summer vegetable with great flavour, good health benefits, and such a multi-purpose kitchen staple. Heat, consistent watering, and feeding are the keys to success.
  3. Love fresh fruit but short of space? Any fruits or vegetables with good colour are classic health providers, including beetroot, blueberries, tomatoes, and red capsicums, and all can be grown in pots.
  4. Soil preparation is the key to growth so dig down to a spade’s depth and mix in blood and bone, a dusting of lime and sheep pellets to provide loose and fertile earthworm-attracting soil.


Raising the toddlers of the plant world

Also known as “vegetable confetti”, microgreens are the quickest food crop urban gardeners can grow – often as simply as in a container on your kitchen windowsill.


Not to be confused with sprouts – germinated seeds that are eaten root, seed and shoot – microgreens are the seedlings of leafy herbs and plants that are harvested less than a month after germination.

The stem, seed leaves and first set of true leaves are all edible.

Common microgreen varieties include amaranth, basil, beets, broccoli, cabbage, celery, chard, chervil, coriander, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard, parsley, peas, radish, rocket, spinach, and sorrel.

Growing microgreens only requires good light – a well-lit kitchen bench, sunny windowsill or balcony – a suitable shallow container, water and a growing medium.


• Microgreens are a nutrient- dense food that contain digestible vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, and are packed with flavour, colour, texture and living enzymes
• Some studies have shown microgreens contain considerably higher concentrations of vitamins and carotenoids than their mature plant counterparts
• Many varieties will regrow and produce several harvests


  1. Line seed tray with moistened paper. Fill tray with moist growing medium, e.g soil or burlap, about 2 to 3cm deep
  2. Sprinkle seeds over mix, press in lightly
  3. Water by misting with a spray bottle
  4. Place on a drainage tray in warm spot
  5. Water every day as needed, but avoid overwatering!
  6. Cover seeds with clear lid or plastic bag with holes snipped for airflow to encourage germination
  7. Harvest after the first two true leaves emerge from the cotyledon by snipping off at soil level

Gardens, gifts and café in one: Lushingtons Gardens, Gifts and Café

Spring is a time of renewal. It’s also a time to explore, to do something different, to find somewhere new to enjoy. There can be few more alluring places for a new experience than Lushingtons Garden, Gifts and Café at Tinwald, Ashburton. It’s the perfect stop for lunch and a leg stretch en route to and from Christchurch, but because it offers so many tempting delights – it is even better for a day out.

Right now, the garden centre has a huge range of edible plants. “We have stocked up again on edibles after an enormous run on these during the Covid-19 lockdown,” says Miranda Sinton, who co-owns Lushingtons with her sister, Sophie Duff.

“There is everything from vegetable and berry plants to fruit and citrus trees. Now is a good time to be planting seeds for summer harvesting and our knowledgeable and experienced team can help with your selections. We take pride in the quality of our plants and grow many of them in our own nursery at Allenton which helps keep the prices competitive.”

The café too has new surprises on its spring menu for breakfast and lunch, alongside wholesome homemade cakes and slices. Next to the café is the gift and homewares shop.

Worked around a “country comes to town” theme, here you will find beautiful French and English-inspired giftware.

Lushingtons definitely has what it takes to delight the senses and lift the spirits. Once you are there it is not easy to leave.


Growing self-sufficiency

Vegetable patches the country over expanded this year, as a nationwide lockdown and mile-long supermarket queues inspired many households to grow their own. And for some, the enthusiasm hasn’t waned. Here’s Metropol’s tips for planting out your vege patch for spring.


While it is still too early to plant traditional summer vegetables like tomatoes and cucumbers, you can continue planting year-round vegetables like celery, lettuce, silverbeet, beetroot, and spinach.

It is an apt time to start planting herbs like basil, coriander, and parsley. Almost all herbs love the sunshine, while others like mint relish the shade.

Sow seeds of summer vegetables like courgettes in pots or seed trays for planting into the garden in late October. Remember, it takes an extra six to eight weeks from germination to planting for seeds.

When it’s not too wet outdoors, start preparing areas of your vegetable garden for summer crops by adding fresh compost to existing soil.

Top tip: Quick-maturing crops like radishes, which can take just five weeks to grow, can give some instant gratification for impatient planters.


Hedging your bets

Luscious additions to any garden, hedges are living walls ideal for creating privacy and shelter, filtering out noise, dividing areas or for creating an elegant garden character. When cared for well, hedges can be immaculate high-impact features. Here’s Metropol’s top tips for cultivating a lush hedge of your own.


Know your shrubbery
From buxus, corokia, Portuguese laurel and Irish yew to osmanthus, griselinia, camelia, beech and holly – hedging options abound. Ask your supplier for the best variety to grow locally, and to suit the weather and soil of your garden.

Hungry hedges
Early spring is a great time to fertilise your hedge to help growth when the weather really heats up.

Thirsty work
Just like other shrubs, hedges need frequent and regular watering. In hot weather, don’t forget to give the roots special attention.

Trim and tidy
Pruning ensures hedges’ long term health, but the right tools are needed for the job. Using a shear like a power trimmer or handheld pruner to trim your hedging enhances the production of buds, and also lets crucial sunlight through to the shaded interior growth.

Shape up
Contrary to popular belief, hedges should be shaped to be thicker at the base – this ensures the lower part of the hedge remains covered in green growth.


Spring into gardening

Spring is a season of regeneration in the garden, but just like most things in life, new growth doesn’t come from nowhere. Here are Metropol’s tips for growing a luscious garden by the time the season hits its peak.



Remove all the debris like leaves, sticks and whatever else has gathered over winter. Then, get weeding! Make sure you get rid of the roots to rid your garden of weeds once and for all. It can also be time to cull any old plants, make like Marie Kondo and remove those which no longer serve.

Just like your skin, soil can get dried out and dull over winter – so early spring is time to moisturise that dirt. Start early so beds are ready for planting once temperatures increase. Begin by adding organic material like compost or manure in an even layer, a good rule of thumb is 40L of organic matter per 2sqm of garden space, worked in thoroughly. This aerates and improves organic matter, nutrient content, and microbial activity.

In Canterbury and the lower South Island, where our temperatures can take their time to rise, don’t risk your seeds by planting them too early. Instead, consider seeing your favourite summer plants indoors with seed trays. Some gardening gurus recommend waiting until Labour weekend to make the call on whether your summer seedings should go in the outdoor soil.

Showing your lawn some love now could make all the difference to whether you are enjoying some soft, full and green grass this summer. The secret? Fertilising well and often will lower the PH of the soil, which should promote the growth of your lawn – and not those pesky weeds.


Make sure you’ve got the right tools at hand to help you get your garden into shape, and that they’re sharp and in good working order. Some essentials include:
• A good pair of gloves to protect your hands from dirt, thorns, and splinters
• Some sharp secateurs which will cut, not crush, stems
• Loppers to prune harder to reach areas or thicker branches
• A garden fork to turn and dig soil
• A hand trowel for replanting
smaller plants
• A short-handled square shovel for digging holes, moving dirt, and edging


Success is in the soil: Terra Viva

The topic of soil doesn’t sound as exciting as talking about stunning strongly-scented roses or a bumper crop of sweet strawberries, it’s actually more important. Terra Viva’s Peter Worsp tells us why.



PREPARATION IS KEY: Like most things in life, the preparation determines the end results – and this applies to success in the garden. The better the soil, the better the results, so avoid the temptation to just rush ahead and bung the plants in.
Plants are just like us – we thrive in the right conditions and we suffer in adverse conditions. If the soil is well-prepared plants get off to a quick start and continue down that path.
So, what makes for well-prepared soil? Digging over to approximately 30cm (about a spade’s depth), breaking up the clods, and adding compost, real blood and bone, a dusting of lime, sheep pellets, and gypsum in compacted heavy soils.
Well dug-over soft soil allows the roots to get out quickly to anchor the plant and draw in nutrients which translates to growth.

FLOURISH WITH FERTILISER: Most plants have specific fertiliser needs so getting the right fertiliser mix is important. Plants use potash to produce flowers and fruit which is why rose food has a very high potash level; too much nitrogen gives lush foliage growth but minimal flowering. Conversely, lawn food has no potash but high nitrogen to give strong foliage growth, i.e. lawns. Sheep pellets are still one of the most effective and popular fertilisers, improving fertility, soil texture, and encouraging earthworms.

COMPOST, COMPOST, COMPOST! One of the top gardens in Christchurch positively glows with health and productivity and the keen gardener’s secret is: “Generous and regular applications of compost”. Compost adds fertility, improves drainage/aeration, texture, and encourages earthworms whose actions and secretions add to the soil’s quality. Poor, heavy clay soils can be turned into fertile productive soil by adding gypsum and compost. Gypsum breaks up heavy compacted soil, adds calcium and sulphate nutrients, and improves the effectiveness of fertilisers. Using compost at the same time stops the clay particles sticking together again.

PLANNING WITH pH: Soil pH measures alkalinity versus acidity in the soil, with most soil being somewhere near neutral. However, there is a group of plants which need acidic soil to thrive, including rhododendrons, azaleas, blue hydrangeas, daphne, camellias, and blueberries, and using acid fertiliser will keep them happy. Use a light sprinkling of lime to create alkaline conditions for lavender, delphiniums, lilacs, hostas, and sedums. Get the soil right, get the results!

Visit Terra Viva at 242 Roydvale Ave, Burnside between 8.30am and 5pm every day, or call them on 03 358 5565.


Talent for trellis: Trellis Warehouse

If you’re already preparing for the warmer months ahead and would like to install some outdoor features in your garden, then a trellis may just be the stylish answer you’ve been looking for.


For 30 years, Trellis Warehouse has been supplying Cantabrians with quality trellis products, all of which are custom made onsite at the Addington factory.

Using premium grade treated pine, the team produces everything from trellis panels, picket panels and gates, to archways, summer seats, picnic tables and gazebos.

If you have a project in mind, give the team a call and they can provide you with a free measure, quote and consultation.

From there, if you choose to build with Trellis Warehouse, they’ll organise all of the laminated posts and hardware; arrange delivery, painting, staining and installation. They are also happy to work with retail, trade and wholesale customers.

If you’d like to chat about your project, or are in need of some inspiration, the factory in Addington is open to the public from Mondays to Fridays 8am to 4:30pm and Saturdays from 8:30am to 11:30am.

There are also plenty of photos on the website and Facebook page for idea inspiration.

For more information, email


Every garden needs a focal point: Grow Landscapes

Every landscape architect through time has wanted to ensure a garden’s design has a focal point, no matter the size of the space.


Creating that focal point for your garden is as simple as a visit to Grow Landscape & Lifestyle at 69 Moorhouse Avenue, where you’ll find a vast range of garden art, water features, pots, troughs and urns that can instantly brighten up an outdoor patio or backyard.

The range instore now includes large sandstone-coloured urns on plinths, and two new unique water features in sandstone and terracotta colours.

Following the latest gardening trends, they also have fibre cement troughs in stock at Grow Landscape & Lifestyle, available in shades of black and white, and coffee bean colour.

They are ideal for screening plants, or as vegetable and herb gardens, so check them out now before new-season planting begins.

You’ll also find a fantastic range of large, shallow bowls which look great planted with anything from a Kaizuka “cloud tree” to succulents and seasonal colour.

‘Atlantis pots’ are a popular choice this Winter and are available in a great range of colours with a textured pebble look.

The elegant range of Tau fibreglass pots also continue to be popular with their seamless hand-finished black or white surfaces.

Other trend-setting items include artificial indoor plants that look so realistic visitors regularly try to determine if they are or not.

They are proving to be very popular for both the home and business.

They continue to look fabulous with no care or attention and are available in sizes to suit any spot in the home, patio or office space.

Grow Landscape & Lifestyle offer a full range of landscaping services from decking and fences, to driveways and paving.

They also specialise in lawns, instant lawns and the increasingly popular artificial turf.

The talented team of 12 staff are the experts in all aspects of landscaping, and are passionate about helping you to achieve excellent, professional results in your garden.

If you need advice on a specific project, are looking for that perfect design feature for your garden, or are searching for inspiration, pop in and visit Grow Landscape & Lifestyle at 69 Moorhouse Avenue, Christchurch today.

The store is open Monday to Fridays from 9am-5pm, and Saturdays from 10am-4pm (closed Sundays). For more information, phone 03 365 9945 and email


Sow what?


The winter chill will be with us a while yet, but the slightly longer daylight hours are a sure sign spring is on its way. So, it’s time to get the last of your pre-spring gardening done so you can sit back and enjoy the fruits (and vegetables) of your labour come warmer weather.



Here’s the rundown on what to be planting, pruning and prepping in your garden right now.

Planting new roses in rich, well-drained soil with plenty of compost now will lay great foundations for summer flowering. For those existing roses, it’s time to finish pruning while the plant is dormant so new shoots can start sprouting at the first feel of warm weather.

Protect your pre-Spring tree planting from those blustery nor’wester by securing them with some garden stakes. Avoid damaging the trunks by using a soft material to secure trees to the stakes, but don’t tie them too tightly. Trunks should still rock a little, as this helps strengthen their roots.

If you want to give you garden a boost of groomed greenery, it’s a great time to grow hedging. Popular hedging varieties include griselinia and corokia, but you can branch out with an edible option by using feijoa.

These usually arrive in garden centres about now, so it’s a great time to stock up on your preferred varieties – just remember to check if your chosen tree requires a pollinator. When it comes to planting, you should aim to dig a hole twice as wide and deep as the one it comes in and backfill this with a mix of topsoil, compost, sheep pellets and feed or organic fertiliser.

Planting strawberries now gives them time to root during winter, ready for Spring growth. Choose a sunny spot for your strawbs, and prepare the soil with organic matter like compost and sheep pellets. Water them well – using a straw can help keep the roots moist and ensure the fruit stays off the soil, too.

It’s also an opportune time to plant up your pots, containers and hanging baskets. Add an instant pop of colour with flowering favourites like Viola, Polyanthus, Poppy, Gypsophila, Hollyhock and Carnations. Add a thick layer of mulch or pea straw to conserve water, reduce weeds and cycle nutrients back into the soil.

Early August is an opportune time to sow seeds of tomatoes, cabbage, celery, spring onion, onion, silverbeet, melon, spinach, cucumbers, capsicum, and lettuce. Sow your seeds in trays of seed raising mix to get them ready for later transplanting.