Gardening in the best possible taste

Cover of Grow for flavourNothing makes my day like a “hold available” notification from CCL for a crisp new garden book, and this week I got my hands on a real gem. Grow for Flavour by James Wong (of Grow Your Own Drugs fame – not nearly as dodgy as it sounds) is a fresh ray of light in a forest of glossy gardening books that look pretty, but can sometimes be a bit guilty of repeating much the same information.

Don’t get me wrong, Grow for Flavour is very a attractive volume indeed (who can resist an author who photographs his Star Wars figurines in his garden shots?), but it’s not just a pretty publication. It’s full of interesting facts and innovative ideas for getting the best flavours out of your home produce.

Wong argues that much of our gardening ‘wisdom’ is based on (British) Victorian gardening practice – essentially the time when yield was beginning to be prized over flavour, a sad trend that’s come to its lacklustre fruition in our supermarkets today. This book is a strike back in defense of taste. It’s full of simple ways to boost flavour in all sort of fruit and vege crops – and the thing I love best is that all of its tips are firmly rooted in science. (You see what I did there?)

Yep, Wong is a scientist as well as a herbalist and a gardener, which means that his observations, remedies and treatments all have solid scientific research behind them – a nice change in this subject area, where solutions are so often presented without a lick of evidence stronger than “Well my great Aunt Hilda swears by it!”

It’s one of those books I think my partner secretly hates. Inevitably, when I get hold of a volume like this, his quiet evening will be peppered with interruptions along the lines of “Hey, did you know I hate coriander because I have the OR6A2 gene that makes it taste like soap and bleach?” or “Can I turn the laundry bin into a fungus farm?” It’s not uncommon for these exclamations to turn completely nonsensical, like “Aspirin and molasses on tomatoes? Genius!” (Well, it made sense to me…)

We’re well into planting season now, so grab a copy today. You too can be making inscrutable garden related exclamations in no time…

Down in the Vege Patch

Right about now the seedlings from your Supermarket mini gardens and garden centres are basking their leaves in the delicious spring sunshine. Leafy and bursting to stretch their legs, so let’s roll up our sleeves.

mini garden seedlings

Whether you are an experienced gardener or have had your interest piqued recently by the spring buzz, anyone and everyone can enjoy the satisfaction of a homegrown feast.

What better way to save money and guarantee a supply of nutrient rich food for you and your family, then by growing it yourself! Crops in pots, in the ground, with all day sun, or partial shade – it is amazing what you can grow in any situation.

I am into my third summer as a small garden novice and I am pleased to say, my results have bloomed by knowing a small number of essential tips and tricks.

As with any endeavour for me, my first stop was a good browse on the net. We are all familiar with hypnotizing rabbit hole that this can become. There seems to be a growing (excuse the pun) number of blogs with tips, ideas, inspiration and advise. Inspiration and ideas are a key part of why we enjoy getting into our little patch of soil, however unchecked advice or misinformation can lead to frustrations and a long walk up the proverbial garden path.

Much like falling back to my trusty watering can and hoe, I find myself tapping into tried, tested and published sources that allow me to pick the brains of the experts. If you can imagine it, our libraries have a gardening book, magazine, or journal that will provide everything you could possibly want to know. This year I want to try organic pest control and fertilizers, how about you?

Now let’s get those seedlings into the ground.

Suggested reads

For more inspiration and garden paths of discovery, go to our Gardening page or check out these beauties –
Cover of Edible landscaping Cover of Creative vegetable gardening Cover of Organic gardening Cover of The urban kitchen gardener Grown your own vegetables in pots Cover of Garden inspirations Cover of new small garden

 

Water wise gardening

Book cover of the water-wise gardenIn the dry plains of Canterbury it can feel like we’re endlessly watering our gardens in summer.

Here’s some water wise tips:

  • Thickly mulch your garden.
  • Plant dry-tolerant plants in dry areas of your garden.
  • Keep a bucket under your kitchen tap to collect all your waste water from rinsing crockery etc and hand washing. As long as you empty it often it’s not a health hazard. I find it’s great for watering container plants and seedlings.
  • Water in the cool parts of the day: morning and evening.
  • Hand watering uses less water than forgotten sprinkler watering.
  • Bury water bottles/buckets with holes in the bottom next to thirsty plants. Fill them with water and walk away.

Book cover of Dryland Gardening

Come in from the heat and get some water wise gardening books at our libraries, we also have gardening e-resources available through our website and lots of information on saving water.

The council has some more water conservation tips and you can share your tips with others in the comments below.