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Sustainable Spaces


Creating food in your own backyard is a great way to minimise your environmental impact. And it’s not as time or labour intensive as you might think!

 

Raised vegetable gardens, homegrown herbs, low-maintenance fruit trees, backyard beehives and DIY compost – they are growing in popularity as we increasingly seek sustainability from our spaces.

Growing your own food is a great way to limit the contaminants, such as hormones and pesticides, you’re exposed to, and, with fewer resources required to reach your plate, they are less taxing on the environment.

SOWING THE SEEDS
When you’re starting out, seedlings can be a safer bet than seeds and those from a nursery even more so. Don’t go crazy on specialised supplies; start with the basics and learn as you go. You’ll find plenty of information online or you can head into your local nursery if you need to talk to the experts.

POWERFUL PRODUCE
Tomatoes, cucumbers and lemons are a mainstay of Kiwi gardens, but there are more exotic, high value plants that can also be grown easily, such as berries, avocados, limes and cauliflower. Fruit trees are a great addition to the backyard and can be grown up or along fences in smaller sections, or miniature varieties are available.

BLACK GOLD
There’s a reason compost has been called black gold; it’s the single most important supplement you can give your garden. Transforming your food scraps and other natural waste into this nutrient-rich, organic fertiliser is also free, easy to make and good for the environment. Just jump online and you’ll find plenty of easy to follow instructions.

THE BEES KNEES
Meanwhile beekeeping may require a little more research – and space – but is well worth the effort. Beekeeping supports community pollination, food supplies and fosters bee populations outside of the commercial beekeeping industry. Plus who doesn’t love honey? Need we say it’s the bees knees? You’ll find plenty of support at the Christchurch Hobbyist Beekeepers’ Club.

The garden doesn’t have to be just a place of peace; it can also be a place of purpose. So why not get out there and make the most of the warm days, after all, you reap what you sow!

 


 

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.

 

 

CLEAR IT UP
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.

SORT OUT YOUR SOIL
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.

SOWING THE SEED
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.

LOVE THY LAWN
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.

 

ON THE TOOLS
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


 

Thyme to plant


We can all benefit from a little more “thyme” in the garden. So we’ve pulled together our top tips for thyme; a kitchen staple that’s easy to grow, low maintenance, and adds a serious touch of taste to stuffings, slow-cooked meals, soups, sauces, pesto and herb breads.

 

 

Ahardy, drought-tolerant herb which can be planted in gardens or pots, thyme comes in a number of varieties, the classic being Thymus vulgaris, with its full, rich flavour making it the popular choice for casseroles and roasts.

Growing thyme from seed can take work, so it’s best to go with seedlings planted in free-draining soil or gravel in spring or autumn.

The popular perennial does best in well-drained soil in full sun, thriving with some protection from cold winds and wet winters.

It loves a good trim post-flowering to encourage new growth, and to help your plants last. Once established, thyme won’t need watering and it’s winter hardy, so you can pick leaves year round.

Use thyme fresh, dried or preserved in butter, vinegar or oil.

Pro tip: it can be used to make cough medicine, a hair rinse or a skin cleanser!


 

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.


 

Dishing the dirt


Winter’s arrival may conjure up images of the indoors, snuggled up fireside with a good book or Netflix series. But green thumbs know winter is not the time to retire the gumboots and secateurs. Instead, it’s an opportune moment to prepare for the flowering seasons.

 

 

Whether it’s a full-scale landscape or pre-spring spruce up, here’s our pick for the handiest gardening trends, tools and tips to help you in the garden this winter

The Tip: Let’s landscape
With summer foliage long departed, June and early July marks the best time to re-think your landscaping. Perhaps you’ve been eyeing up a new spot for a vegetable garden, want to plant some citrus, or relocate some shrubs and small trees. Now is the time to do it.

The Tool: Garden carts
Move over wheelbarrows, there’s a new yard companion making tracks. Often sporting four wheels with an extendable handle, the gardening cart is gaining traction as a functional addition to your shed designed to make your days in the garden easier.
While wheelbarrows have long been the go-to for carting gardening waste, soils and tools, the flat bed of a cart is perfect for also moving more delicate items like pots and plants. Some models even come with lids which can double as a seat or bench.
When looking for a gardening cart you may want to consider its ability to bear weight with a sturdy chassis; its manoeuvrability with pivoting wheels, and how easily it can tilt and dump your contents.

The Trend: Indoor plants
If there’s no landscaping to be done, why not indulge that desire to turn your attention indoors and embrace the greenery trend of the decade: houseplants. The addition of indoor greenery to home, retail and commercial spaces is a gardening trend that just won’t quit. And there’s no better time to bring your gardening indoors than over the chilly, wet wintry months. Not only do houseplants freshen up your space, there’s a bunch of evidence interior vegetation can provide psychological benefits like stress-reduction, boosting creative thinking, and reducing anxiety. As many indoor plant parents will know, it’s always important to ensure your houseplants are well placed for sunlight, watered regularly and get enough access to warmer temperatures.


 

Thrive through winter


Your little garden projects don’t take a break just because it’s coming into winter… and neither should you. We’ve pulled together all of the tips and tricks to making sure your Garden of Eden stays alive and thriving.

 

 

  1. Don’t forget your roots: While we’re certain Six60 wasn’t being literal… in this case, we are. Winter is the perfect time to replenish your soil and make sure that it has all of the nutrients it needs to fight off that winter weather. Just as we need lots of vitamin C in winter, your garden needs good fertiliser.
  2. Catalogue your crops: You wouldn’t go out in the snow in your swimmers; the same goes for your choice of vegetables in your garden. Make sure you plant the appropriate crops to the season – broccoli, garlic, kale, onions, silverbeet and spinach are just a few.
  3. Too much at stake: Understandably you can’t be in your garden 24/7 to hold down the fort. Ensure your plants are protected from the cold winter winds by staking them – it’ll provide them with the extra support they need to make it through the chilly months.
  4. Ring-a-ring-a-roses: The colder months are the best time to plant your new roses. It’s also a perfect opportunity to prune any existing ones you have growing. This will help them with growth and help them avoid any pesky diseases.

If you want more help and advice, head into Terra Viva Home & Garden. They have all the tips, tricks and tools to meet your gardening needs, while also offering a full landscape design service that is very popular with customers.


 

Growing up


Vertical gardens are growing into one of the most popular plant trends, as green-thumbs channel their love of gardening to new heights of creativity. A tonne of easy, budget-friendly options await – we’ve picked out our favourite DIY designs.

 

 

  1. Give any small garden, urban courtyard or interior space the undeniable wow factor it deserves with a framed wall planter – the perfect piece of living art!

    These are fairly easy to find but even easier to make, using some simple materials available from your nearest gardening centre and following a tutorial online.Succulents are a popular choice for this design because they grow slowly and demand little water.

  2. Breathe new life into a boring old fence or outdoor wall with a versatile and contemporary pocket planter!Easy to craft using some landscaping material or felt, these hanging planters will spruce up any space.If it’s an edible garden that piques your interest, herbs grow easily in these receptacles and the result is an ornate tapestry of colour, scent and texture.

    Choose one made from recycled materials for greater water retention.

  3. Upcycle all of those tin cans by spray painting them, drilling holes in the bottom and attaching them to your trellis or fence.Alternatively, you can drill a hole in either side of the tin, attach string and hang them wherever you see fit!Fill these funky planters with beautiful flowers, herbs or healing plants.

Growing a passion


It’s obvious he is a consummate plantsman down to the very tips of his fingers. Managing Director of Kiwiflora Nurseries, near Templeton, Nalin Gooneratne grew up in Sri Lanka on his grandparents’ tea, coffee and pepper plantation. That heritage and link to the earth and the environment led Nalin to his career in commercial horticulture in New Zealand.

 

 

“After gaining my Diploma in Horticulture from Lincoln I did an internship with the University of Minnesota – rather different conditions from New Zealand there,” he says.

“But next I spent a number of years working for a large Canterbury nursery developing my knowledge about the Canterbury climate, which can be quite challenging for tree selection.”

Those years of learning honed Nalin’s depth of knowledge and when the opportunity came to purchase Kiwiflora Nurseries, he was ready to move out on his own.

“This nursery has been something of a hidden gem, tucked away off State Highway 1. My vision is to grow it as a strong player in the industry with an emphasis on the quality of our service, advice and product. I want to impart to my customers my passion for planting trees and shrubs that will perform 365 days a year – not just plants that are the fashionable flavour of the month.”

Nalin says there are many forgotten plants, both native and exotic, that are suitable for growing in Canterbury and he is on a mission to reinvigorate interest in them.

Kiwiflora Nurseries are located at 851 Waterholes Rd, Templeton. Phone 03 349 4582.


 

Get your gardening on


What’s flourishing in the gardening world in 2020? From supersized houseplants to 80s flower inspiration, we give you the rundown on some of the coolest gardening developments expected to blossom over the coming year.

Super-sized species

2020 – the year of the houseplant? It’s no surprise that these indoor beauties are top of the list, but this year sees super-sized greenery take centre stage in many homes.

Forget the small decorative plants and modest, lonely aloe vera – it’s all about bigger, bolder species. Increase the health benefits of greenery by making a statement with showstopping varieties like the giant-leafed alocasia, the deep green monstera and the fiddle-leaf fig.

Don’t totally discount your miniature favourites, though – horticulturists predict 6-9cm plants will remain popular.


Grow-your-own

Your garden should always be a place of peace and purpose.

With environmental welfare at the forefront of many minds, what better way to take advantage of your outdoor space than sustainably sourcing your own fruit and veges?

Herbs, beans and peas are still high on the agenda this year, alongside highly nutritious microgreens, chillies, legumes and soybeans.

Sit back and reap the rich rewards of a fruitful vege garden; like fresh organic food and a reduced weekly grocery spend – not to mention the satisfaction that comes with it.

Add a creative touch to your food with edible flowers, flavour a cocktail with homegrown herbs or berries, or whip up a fresh vegetable salad, all with the fruits (literally!) of your labour.


Bug-friendly backyards

The new decade is all about being kind to wildlife thanks to growing concern over the catastrophic decline in insects and the overall impact of this on the environment.

In 2020, overgrown gardens teeming with wildlife take the top spot over neatly manicured lawns, as gardeners ditch pesticides and promote pollination.

Dubbed ‘rewilding’, the trend has sparked interest in outdoor spaces with a more natural aesthetic, which incorporate eco-friendly gardening concepts such as bee hotels, wildlife ponds, log piles, pollen-rich plants and compost heaps.

Plastic-free gardening is also a hot topic; consider using compostable plant pots made from rice husk and sustainable wood and bamboo fibres over wasteful black plastic ones.


80s flower power

The wild and beautiful blooms of the 80s are having a well-deserved revival with nemesias and diascias front of the line.

Not only do these pretty flowers offer a compact size, long flowering period and sweet scent that attracts bees and butterflies, they’re also incredibly flexible supporting plants that can be grown at the edge of any basket, bed or pot.

Expect to see a wider range of these beauties as new breeding programmes produce sensational colour schemes such as ‘berries and cream’.


 

Up your gardening game


As summer fades, garden sheds resound with activity as tools are sharpened, wheelbarrow tyres are pumped, yard carts are laden with gardening implements, seed packets are sorted and gardening gloves are inspected for holes. The dewy mornings and sunny days of autumn make for idyllic weather to connect with the soil and get the garden into the best shape it can be for winter and beyond. We check out how to up your gardening game this season.

 

Firstly, a bit of maintenance and tidying up is required, so bring out the secateurs for a spot of pruning.

Prune away dead or broken branches on woody shrubs and trees but don’t get carried away and prune everything in sight.

Leave plants with seeds and berries to bring interest and colour to the garden, but also for birds and insects to feast on throughout winter.

Mulching helps maintain soil moisture and protects roots over winter, not to mention prevents weeds from poking up where they’re not wanted!

Add 5-8cm of mulch to garden beds while taking care not to pile it against the base of plants.

Start a compost pile of fallen leaves. Over time the leaves decompose into leaf mould – a compost which is a rich source of nutrients.

Flower gardens require the removal of diseased foliage from perennials and shrubs.

Mark where perennials that go dormant through winter are so that they’re easily located in spring.

Now is also the time to plant spring bulbs before the soil gets too cold. To prevent weeds going to seed and overtaking the garden in spring, a thorough weed removal is also timely.

For edible gardens remove anything that has gone to seed, shows signs of disease or has died.

Ensure all roots are removed too. Plant vegetable seedlings of cauliflower, broccoli, beetroot and winter lettuce; as well as herbs like chives, parsley and rosemary.

Note where tomatoes and potatoes grew in order to rotate planting locations next season.

If you’re leaving the vegetable patch bare over winter, take this opportunity to add nutrients to the soil by planting green crops, such as lupin or mustard seed.

This is also the ideal time to plant whatever else delights the gardener’s eye – be it perennials, trees, shrubs, roses, climbers or fruit trees.

To increase the number of feathered friends visiting your autumn garden, entice them with regular feeding to see them through the cold months ahead when food can be scarce.

Attracting birdlife into the garden also encourages them to snack on pesky garden pests such as caterpillars and snails.

A win-win for both birds and the gardener!

British horticulturist, garden designer, craftswoman, photographer, writer and artist, Gertrude Jekyll, may well have had autumn in mind when she made this observation: A garden is a grand teacher.

It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust.