I had a dream when I left Dunedin for Auckland 9 months ago that I could be part of an urban community garden. We have finally managed to achieve my dream. We now have a plot with the Sanctuary Community Organic Garden at UNITEC. This community garden is a haven for city dwellers who want to be a little more self sufficient and grow their own food.
|Peter titled this photo “Somebody’s Darling” . This lettuce was
growing in someones plot – looks too good to eat!
This tiny bit of self sufficiency gives me a good feeling, especially leaving behind a large food garden in Dunedin to living with one raised bed and herbs in pots in Ponsonby. We have nick named the community garden as “The Good Life Gardens” re-living the late 1970’s comedy “The Good Life”. Peter is not as fanatical as Tom in the TV series, but loves the physical work involved in gardening. For me, it is a chance to share ideas and learn from local gardeners about what to plant and when … and how to deal with a host of pests we just don’t have down south.
|Our Community Garden is nestled in the 55 hectare grounds of UNITEC Institute of Technology,
Mt Albert, where it was originally set up as a Horticultural Organic Teaching Garden
The gardeners tell us the volcanic soil here in Mt Albert is some of the best in New Zealand (certainly the free loam is a change from the clay in Dunedin). The soil has also benefited from being an organic garden for over 15 years.
We have leased a plot about 4 x 4 metres amid the other family plots and the large communal beds of garlic, potatoes, silver beet and broad beans, plus beds of perennial herbs.
|A very healthy potato patch.
The Blues Rugby Development Squad trains in the UNITEC grounds. They recently volunteered to earth up
all our potatoes… and this should ensure we get a bumper crop.
One of the founding members of the Sanctuary Trust was a Permaculturalist who planted up a food forest around the edge of the garden. Beyond that is a forest reserve so it’s a perfectly sheltered site.
Permaculture is a philosophy as much as a method of gardening. It was first introduced to the world by Australian Bill Mollison who studied forest ecology and translated it into a system of growing food and crops in a sustainable way. If you want to know more take a look at A Beginners Guide to Permaculture Gardening, a video made in North London.
|Thankfully there are plenty of nasturtium hiding in the
food forest and around the edges of the garden plots
|Grandson Beau loves coming to the gardens, he is
watering flower seedlings planted out on community work day.
|Baba Ghanoush looks a lot more appetising with some freshly
chopped parsley, a slurp of olive oil and a few nasturtiums to bring colour to the dish.
Try popping some Baba Ghanoush into the flower and munch
|In December 2012 I wrote a posting on Aubergine titled
Aubergine/Eggplant-King of Vegetables . Take a look if you want other
recipe ideas for this versatile and healthy vegetable.
|I found if soft enough you can mash with a fork. This time I used my latest German made
kitchen gadget. It’s a whisk that you can push down to make it whirl around
– great for eggs and worked well on the aubergine.
|I have discovered that Ceres produces a number of butters made from nuts.
The one in this picture is called ABC – Almond, Brazil and Cashew.
|You may be able to just see the line of the carrots I planted (far left)
Our patch has lots of calendulas seeding and one of the gardeners
gave us some lettuce seedlings which are progressing well (right)
Back in our patch everything is shooting up – weeds as quickly as the seeds we have
planted. We have had some failures but I have a strike of carrots! We are going to try to keep
our patch in true permaculture style, by pulling the weeds and laying them down to eventually become part of the soil. We hope this will also help to keep the moisture in as we only visit the gardens once or twice a week. We do take out the invasive weeds. They are put into the community large plastic tanks with water to rot down and to be returned to the land as a tea.
|Beau loves to help and here Poppa Pete is teaching
him how to gently water the seedlings in the greenhouse