Posts Tagged ‘gardening’


Silverbeet and other vegetables

August 26, 2009

Picked some more silverbeet today. Cost for seedlings, $3. Labour input: minimal, and gratifying.

Silverbeet is hard to kill, easy to grow, free of most pests and diseases, and can be picked without killing the plant. I know vegetable gardening isn’t for everyone, and you need some basic kit which costs a bit, but certainly if you’re getting into it silverbeet must qualify as one of the best possible plants to grow.

As long as you like silverbeet. Which I do. Just don’t boil the crap out of it as we did in the 70s. Wash it and shred it, and sweat it in olive oil with a little garlic and salt and pepper until it’s well wilted but still green. Nom.

My Dad is a terrific fruit and vegetable gardener. He always reckons that he won’t grow things that he can buy really cheaply, unless the home-grown version is obviously superior. So Dad doesn’t do onions, but he does do tomatoes. That makes sense to me. There’s an economics of home vegetable gardening, and there’s no sense in investing a lot of effort and resources unless we know it’s worth it.

Soon I’m going to plant beans. Fresh beans are always expensive, the plants fix nitrogen in the soil for your next crop, and if you save a few pods the seeds are free. What a winner. I’d plan even more except that we’re probably moving soon…

Nominations for the frugal vege patch, anyone?


Vegetable gardening report

April 7, 2009

I put some silverbeet in last weekend, and it’s looking good already. I think I might get away with some brassicas of one kind or another, and some carrots too, if they germinate before it gets too cold. I think it’s too windy for broad beans or anything tall ever to succeed here, but fresh peas from a dwarf variety have proved a winner.

There are plenty of fresh herbs, and I’m bringing in my pepper in a container to see whether it will keep producing indoors.

There are many reasons to grow your own vegetables: they generally taste better, they’re probably more nutritious, and you know all about their history. The thing about growing vegetables to save money though is that it is very hard to grow certain things cheaper than you can buy them. For example, no one in their right minds would grow onions in Wellington. They’re gross feeders, a year’s supply would tie up a big area, and they can be had for less than $2 kg year round. Likewise, fresh spuds are the best ones, but a year’s supply takes more land, more feeding and more labour than I care to put in. I just keep a bucket or two on the go instead.

On the other hand, I got 12 silverbeet seedlings for $3, so as long as I get more than one head’s worth off them, I’m ahead. I already have a compost heap and the labour of digging has already been expended. A small bag of blood and bone will last a long time too.

How’s your garden coming on?


Household horticulture tip

November 23, 2008

Don’t pay $$$ for a 10 litre plant pot, when you can buy a 10 litre bucket for less than $2 and knock some holes in the bottom.

Current bucket inhabitants: 2 x potatoes, 1 large thyme bush, a cactus, a coffee tree, and some impatiens. Future bucket inhabitants: dwarf peas, lettuce, and stubby carrots.


Goldfish – Working to feed your garden

October 11, 2008

The picture to the right here is of my goldfish, puku, multitasking. He’s a great pet actually, low-maintenance, cheap to feed, and has this really useful by-product. Poo.

As you can see in the snap, his water is due for a change. Goldfish are one of the dirtiest of the aquatic pets. They generate a lot of poo, which is in turn eaten by algae, and their bowls fill with this great nitrogen water. To be exact it’s a type of ammonia, which is bad for the fish, but in small doses it’s great for your garden.

The gist is that puku here is basically manufacturing fertiliser for me, while also providing a calming influence.

If you’re going to use this on your plants then make sure you water it down. The 20lt this bowl holds is too much for a few pot-plants, but fine for a reasonable-sized garden. Pity the little blighter will never grow big-enough to eat with chips…


Llew says potatoes

August 26, 2008

A little while ago, over at Sunnyo, Llew blogged about how to grow potatoes in a bucket.

This struck me as extremely frugal. I already have old buckets lying around. I have compost for free, from our compost heap. And I always do seem to end up with a sprouting potato or two by the time we get to the bottom of the bag.

I can report that this really does work. My first bucket went in three months ago. The plants were looking really good, but the recent storms bashed them to shreds and they died. So last weekend I went to tip the bucket out, meaning to have another go. Nestled in the compost were two good handfuls of new potatoes. I ate them the same night, and they were DELICIOUS. I have no doubt that had the plants survived, I would have had the promised bucketful, and once it’s warmer, they would come away a lot quicker.

Genuine new potatoes, even in season, are quite pricey, so I think this qualifies for frugality blogging.

Of course, the really keen do-it-yourself-er has their own cow.