by Wally Richards

Here it is Christmas day and I am writing this short weekly article today because I was too busy yesterday mowing lawns and tidying up gardens for Christmas.

So I hope you are have had a pleasant day and a chance to helpfully forget the woes of the past year.

As the Chinese say, ‘Have an Interesting Life’ which some take as a curse because an interesting life is not an easy one. It is full of problems and well as good times — but in comparison a life without the ups and downs is very boring.

As us gardeners know, problems are just challenges in the garden, things to resolve and sort out.

Having successes against the odds is wonderful and very satisfying.

I always get a thrill when seeds I have sown burst forth as young seedlings out of the growing media.

Life has been born anew.

As I wrote a week or two ago this summer so far has been dismal with too many cloudy skies and too few blue skies.

Today in Marton we have some blue in between the clouds so that means some direct sunlight.

That will make the farmers and commercial growers happy as they are looking for growth.

I am happy to say that my first vine ripened tomatoes were picked this week and are delicious.

That’s a lot better than paying between $7.99 and $8.49 a kg from Supermarkets

I have been eating and giving away cucumbers both telegraph and green types which I see are selling for $2.00 to $2.90 each.

Lettuce at this time of the year should be about a dollar each but no they are closer to $4.00 each.

So, hopefully, if you have been following my articles over the last period of time you will also be enjoying your own salad crops. More possibly so if you have a glasshouse.

This now is my third year of growing garlic and there’s no garlic rust thanks to the cell strengthening products.

I scoured seed/cloves from about 3-4 places for planting and the best certainly was the big fat cloves which I can feel in the soil have produced good size bulbs.

A few have started to flower so I cut the flower spike off so all the goodness will go into the bulbs.

There’s no hurry to lift them yet so I will leave until the tops show signs of dying back.

Spraying weekly with Magic Botanic Liquid (MBL) with Mycorrcin added will help produce better crops on all vegetables.

I smiled the other night about the shortage of strawberries this time of the year that I saw on the TV News.

I have big beautiful strawberries rich in flavour available as a desert every couple of nights of the week.

Thats thanks to regular sprays of Mycorrcin and MBL along with an occasional feed of My Secret Strawberry food.

I have to go harvest a few shortly to put on the pavlova.

When we purchased this place in Marton a few years ago I was so surprised that an old 1920 house on a quarter acre section did not have one fruit tree, not even a standard (must have) lemon tree.

Well, on last count I have now 36 fruit trees and two brambles.

(Some were in 100 litre drums from Palmerston North) moved here and are still sitting happily in their drums which makes them easy to move around. In the open ground I added more varieties of fruit trees and ones in their third season are now producing nice small crops.

I will have to keep them under control in time to come; so there is not a jungle of fruit trees.

On the back by the rear fence is a giant macrocarpa, must be many years old and along the same fence line on the other side are some ornamental deciduous trees which send up suckers all over the place.

This means that no open ground vegetable gardens as they would be robbed of goodness during first season.

Instead all vegetable gardens are raised and on concrete to prevent robber roots.

My challenge this year is to have as much vegetables growing all year round to ensure food safety as much as possible, plus far better taste and healthier to eat than the chemically grown expensive vegetables from the supermarket.

Also I will once again try to establish a passion fruit vine, this time in a lean to glasshouse I have.

It has been about 50 years since I last had a successful passion fruit vine growing in a place I lived.

Not that I don’t try every so often.

Mind you 50 years ago in Palmerston North it was a different world with hot blue sky summers and frosty cold winters.

I saw on social media this week a picture of young children in the middle of the road somewhere in suburbia on trikes, bikes and on foot playing from back in 1950’s and the caption said : “We had no idea how good we had it and no clue that we were the last ones.”

Never a truer Analogy of then and now.

It is hard to believe how much things have changed and obviously to us that have lived in the best times that the now is like a different planet and people.

Where did this thing called Woke come from?

I remember back when people used to dance such as foxtrots and rock and Roll now the dancing looks like semaphoresignaling?

I suppose they might have seen a clip of young people doing what was called ‘Hand Jive’ while sitting around a dance hall.I was thinking back recently to a house in Domain Street where I grew up in, it was a little cottage house on a very small section with only enough room for me to have a small vegetable garden.

But in the house there was a coal range which supplied hot water, heating with cooking top and oven.

All of that for most of the day from a shove full of clean burning cheap coal.

The best scones ever came out of that oven and a kettle or soup would be kept hot on the steel top.

The house has long gone and along with neighboring homes for a motel complex now.

Enough reminiscing instead keep gardening and hoping that the year ahead will be an improvement on recent past.

“Where there’s life there’s hope” is attributed to J.R.R. Tolkien whose character Samwise Gamgee declared it in The Lord of the Rings. In another of Tolkien’s famous quotes, “A single dream is more powerful than a thousand realities.”

Merry Christmas — I will catch up with you before the New Year.