A Veganic Garden in Northland
Winter is generally a quiet time in the garden. Growth slows so there is less weeding, mulching and pest watching required. It is an ideal time to plan and set up or improve garden systems which work best for your requirements.
Time for me to tidy up the herb garden.
Most vegan gardeners want to grow organic healthy food, however most store bought organic fertilisers and composts include animal products in NZ.
Healthy plants Need Healthy Soil
The following are vegan and organically acceptable. (There may be more that I am unaware of).
‘Yates Vegan Fertiliser’ and is $24.99 for 2 Kg at the Plant Barn,
$21.99 at Mitre 10 when available. If more vegans ask for it they are more likely to stock more.
Liquid seaweeds such as ‘Seasol’ (Australian) are vegan and widely available at garden stores.
‘Koffert’ is a NZ company producing seaweed fertilisers. It is made is sizes from 1litre upwards contact 0508 4 SEAWEED.
It makes sense to make your own compost if you can.
There are many ways to build your own compost bin. Look at what materials you can source for free – non treated timber, wire netting, old tyres, bricks etc or you can buy a bin. I bought a rotating one on a stand last year which I am pleased with because previously, mice were getting into my food scrap compost bin. There are many ideas for compost bins on ‘you tube’ and ‘google search’. Consider that you need to be able to get your compost out easily when it is ready to use. On the bottom (bare earth so worms can get in) lay sticks and twigs to allow aeration. Composting is an aerobic process. Some sticks up through the centre can help too.
Layer brown (carbon rich) with green (nitrogen rich).
Some suitable brown materials
dry leaves, hay and straw, dried grass
shredded paper and cardboard
bits of wood, bark, nut shells and pruned twigs
wood ash, tea bags and pine needles
Some suitable green materials
Damp grass clippings
flower and plant clippings
veg and fruit peelings
Comfrey leaves, urine (both good compost activators)
A sprinkling of garden lime over the top will help cut any sour odour and worms like some (not too much) lime.
Some people like to use the Bokashi system for dealing with food scraps in the kitchen. This does not compost the food scraps but does ferment them ready for composting in ground or compost bin.
Digging a trench at least 400 - 500mm deep in your garden for your kitchen scraps works well too. Cover and pack down each time you add scraps moving along the trench until it is a mounded row and ready for gross feeding plants next season. Alternatively you can dig a hole for compost.
Often planted in Autumn and dug in in spring for example broad beans, lupins, mustard, vetch, clover, lucerne and phacelia. Even weeds left growing are better for the soil than leaving it bare but remember not to let the weeds seed or you could give yourself a weed headache.
When planning your next season’s planting remember to consider the insects and bees and include flowers and food plants for them.
Growing some comfrey is a good idea as it is so useful as a compost activator, liquid fertiliser, weed barrier and great for planting around fruit trees as it has very deep tap roots which reach below the tree roots to bring nutrients to the surface. As the comfrey dies off every winter the leaves rot on the surface and fertilise the tree naturally. The best way to get comfrey is to ask a permaculture gardener if you can dig up some comfrey roots. Even a small piece will grow. If you decide that you don’t want it there in future the best way to get rid of it is to mow it regularly and it will eventually die. Digging it out is rarely successful as it is so hard to get every piece of the deep roots.
Winter is the time to plant fruit trees (except bananas and some other subtropicals if you get frosts).
Citrus can grow well in pots and many deciduous trees can be espaliered along a fence line.
It is a real joy to pick your own fruit and vegetables.
Hope you have a happy restful winter and can enjoy your gardening time and healthy winter garden produce such as sprouting broccoli and other brassicas, spinach, silver beet, carrots, beetroot parsnips and carrots plus salad greens. You may have stored pumpkins, butternuts etc to enjoy. Chokos are great too and keep well, they are very easy to grow and just need somewhere to climb.