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Attracting Techno Colour Tui To Your Garden

Our tui feeders can be viewed here ….. Much to the delight of local tui the Taiwanese Cherry tree in our garden is once again show casing the arrival of spring with a beautiful display of blossoms. During the last few weeks I’ve taken “a little” time out, can’t say how much as I’m supposed […]

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Are You Sure This Tui Feeder Will Attract Tui ?

Are You Sure This Tui Feeder Will Attract Tui ?

That’s the question I was asked one morning several years ago upon receiving a phone call off one of our adverts in the New Zealand Gardener. The caller introduced himself as Pat and then followed on from his opening question with this statement, “aren’t they a bit expensive!”. It was obvious that he wasn’t one […]

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How To Hang Your Tui Feeder in Four Simple Steps

Each week as I pack up our tui feeders for dispatch I wonder if those receiving them will have any difficulty setting them up in their gardens. Having worked in the furniture trade off and on for many years I can turn my hand to most things however I’m aware that some people can not. […]

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Sixteen Interesting Tui Facts

Sixteen Interesting Tui Facts

Tui ( prosthemadera novaeseelandiae) are endemic “native and unique” to New Zealand. They are found on the three main islands and belong to the honey eater family. Tui are a fully protected in New Zealand. The name Tui is derived from the Maori language with the plural being simply tui. Europeans who first colonised New […]

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These Boots Are Made For … Growing Herbs

My Old Gumboots

I have two pairs of these Red Band gumboots (they’re bit of a Kiwi icon) but recently these ones started to let in water so it appeared that their use by date was up. Normally they would have gone into the rubbish but this year I’ve decided to grow more herbs so “these boots” have been put to good use and have therefore gained a reprieve. I’ve been wearing Red Band ever since I was knee high helping my Dad in the cowshed and no, I don’t have Skellerup shares!

Reminds me of that song by Nancy Sinatra.

Yes I know I’m showing my age!

Now they have a few more holes in them as those that let the water in to wet my socks were not big enough to let sufficient water back out again. Half a dozen holes drilled in each boot at sole level should now allow sufficient drainage.

That completed I filled the boots with a mixture of horse manure and potting mix. My parsley and chives should flourish on such a lovely rich brew.

We need to take better care of our environment as well as recycling whenever possible. These boots will look much better in my garden rather than in some ugly leaching landfill.

Watching this video certainly brings a smile to my face as well as some fond memories of bygone days. Hard to believe that this song was released in 1966, seems just like yesterday.

What does this have to do with gardening you may say?

Absolutely nothing, but sometimes it’s good for one’s spirit to deviate and just reminisce.

Gumboots, growing herbs and Nancy Sinatra …  this has to be my strangest blog post ever.

Favourite quotes:
Where words fail, music speaks. Hans Christian Andersen

Fascinating Fungi

Toadstools

Most mornings after breakfast I take a casual stroll around our property to see what’s new and to ensure all is in order. So that I don’t get distracted the camera remains on my office desk but sometimes it’s a hurried return to the house to fetch it.

Drat, why didn’t I bring the camera? This is usually what I mutter as I race back.

Last Friday was such a morning.

Whilst meandering I noticed a mass of toadstools that had sprung up over night, or so it seemed. Standing there taking in this enchanting scene was soon followed by a nervous twitch in my shutter finger. When this happens there’s only one course of action to follow.

The morning was overcast, moody and misty plus the lighting was perfect but I could feel spits of rain so haste was needed if I was to capture that “magical shot”.

I’ll let you be the judge.

Toadstools 01

Toadstools 02

Toadstools 03

Toadstools 04

Toadstools 05

Toadstools 06

Favourite Quotes:
Whoever loves and understands a garden will find contentment within. Chinese Proverb

Success: At Last The Waiting Is Over

Celebrations are the order of the day as I’ve spotted a Tui feeding from the prototype liquid bird feeder I made several months back.

Bird Feeder

Actually to keep the record straight I didn’t notice the Tui feeding until Steve from Eden Garden Care pointed it out to me. At the time he and his wife Suzanne were on a guided tour of the garden as I had invited them to view my latest garden creations, namely the strawberry tower and the garden sink bench.

I had almost forgotten about the feeder as I’ve been working on other things lately but this momentous event was certainly the highlight of my day if not my whole week. It wasn’t that I feared the Tui’s wouldn’t come it was just how long would it take them. Most days I hear them singing in the trees but until now no signs of them using the feeder.

Initially when I erected the feeder it seemed that the sugared water was being enjoyed by every dirty rat (four legged variety) in the district. A trap clamped to the feeder table soon put the brakes on their nocturnal shenanigans. Every couple of days after that I would discover yet another rodent wearing a tight fitting metal collar.

Have some photos but who wants to see dead rats?

Oh … you do!

In that case contact me and I’ll email you some photos.

Obviously keeping them at bay would be an ongoing and unwanted chore so I fashioned a slippery sleeve from a lemonade bottle which has stopped them from climbing  the waratah standard.

Lemonade Bottle Rat Barrier

As  mentioned in my original post these feeders would not be for sale until I was sure that they would be successful. Now that goal has been achieved I need to crank up the production line and make some more. If you’re interested let me know as I’m happy to take orders. A weeks notice would be fine.

Isn’t it great when a plan finally comes together.

Patience and perseverance wins over yet again. Think I will treat myself to a bottle of wine this weekend for a job well done.

If you live in Manurewa, Papatoetoe or Manukau and need any lawn mowing or garden maintenance done give Steve and Suzanne Williams of “Eden Garden Care” a call on 0274-801536 or 09-2677824. Tell them Rodney recommended them.They’re top notch operators.

Favourite Quotes:
In order to see the birds it is necessary to become part of the silence.
Robert Lynd


Growing Up With Strawberries – Part 3

Clay Pipe on Strawberry Tower

The weather forecasters were slightly adrift with their predictions however there wasn’t enough rain over the weekend to stop me from completing my strawberry tower.

Yes I know it’s an unexciting name but it will suffice until I conjure up something a little more glamorous. By now my neighbours must be thinking either a UFO has landing or that some of my screws have finally come loose.

Anyhow who cares?  … I had a great time making this.

On Friday afternoon my younger brother and his wife dropped by en route to Canada for a three weeks holiday.

Whats that’s?  they asked with some amusement.

Rather obvious I thought but after explaining their response still was … ” We thought you grew strawberries in the ground”.

Yeah right !

Have to make allowances as they’re from the country and don’t know how we life stylers do things.

Completed Strawberry Tower

The next step in this process is obviously growing some strawberries but that will have to wait till nearer spring. In the meantime it’s back to planting more cabbages, broccoli and brussels sprouts.

As I need to build a bigger compost bin and a sink bench in my garden I suspect there’s another project is in the offing.

Due to the lesser number of vegetables one can be growing in winter it’s a great time to brainstorm new ideas and to finish off all those odd jobs.

To be continued …

Please let me know what you think of my new garden addition (hate or love it) and the variety of strawberry I could grow in it. Any recommendations would be most welcome because at the moment I’m unsure.

Favourote Quotes:
The greatest gift of the garden is the restoration of the five senses. Hanna Rion


Growing Up with Strawberries – Part 2

This post is a continuation to that of April 30th when I declared my intention to build a vertical growing frame, tower, call it what you will for my first attempt at growing strawberries. Assuming all goes according to plan launch date will be about 4 months hence.

Spring can’t come soon enough!

The current status of my “strawberry tower”

Strawberry Tower Base

The timber used is some odd bits and pieces left over from previous projects. Shown above is the base which will be partially buried and pinned down so it doesn’t topple onto some unsuspecting gardener “namely me”.

Strawberry Tower Upright & Arms

Rising from the base the upright will boast eight arms upon which the clay pipes will rest. This afternoon I made a hurried visit to a local scrap metal dealer to scrounge some aluminium from which I will fashion 30 mm bands to secure these pipes.

In theory it should all work fine.

Once that’s completed I will need to give thought as to how I keep the planting mix in place in the pipes as well as a method for watering and applying fertilizer.

Some fine weather over the next few days is all that’s needed to bring this project to a successful conclusion.

Tonight’s forecast predicts sunshine for the week end so I have my green fingers and toes crossed.

Hope they’re right.

If you shop around you can be pleasantly surprised how little it costs to build a structure like this.

18 Clay pipes purchased on Trade Me $17.00 … still have a further 10.
Aluminium $5.00.

Timber has an approximate value of $10.00 to $12.00 but as its been in my surplus wood pile for years it doesn’t count.

All this just goes to prove that having a great garden doesn’t have to be an expensive exercise especially when you’re prepared to beg, bargain or borrow.

That’s also part of the fun of vegetable gardening.

Please feel free to leave a comment as I’m very much a newbie when it comes to growing strawberries. Would love to hear of your insights and experiences concerning these flavour some fruits and what varieties you’ve grown.

Favourite Quotes:
The toughest part of getting to the top of the ladder is getting through the crowd at the bottom. Anon

Who Left That Empty Toilet Roll On The Cistern?

This may sound like an unusual topic to write about for a blog (no I don’t mean bog) about vegetable gardening.

Empty Toilet Roll

There are five adults in our house and hardly a week goes by without Rose asking the above question, bless her sweet heart! Three of these are of the male variety so that narrows the field some what. As I would never dream of committing such a heinous crime that just leaves two.

As the purpose of this post is not to apportion blame I will keep my suspicions as to who the culprits may be to myself.

They know who they are!

This ongoing mystery however “got me a thinking” as to what I could use these for rather than just throwing them into the recycle bin.

Rather obvious really …  problem solved!

Use them in the garden for planting out all those seedlings.

Making The First Cut

Making the first cut

Fold Down Tabs

Folding down the tabs

Folded Down Tabs

Another eco friendly container completed

Adding Seed Raising Mix

Adding some seed raising mix

Adding 2 to 3 Seeds

Adding 2 to 3 cabbage seeds and covering with thin layer of seed mix

Keep Seeds Secure With Paper Clip

All done ... remaining seeds returned to packet and secured with paper clip

Now that I’ve found a use for these they shouldn’t lay around the house for too long at all … “the boss” will be pleased.

Favourite Quotes:
Nature and wisdom never are at strife. Plutarch

Starting Your First Vegetable Garden – How Big Is Big Enough?

Turning Sods For Second Garden

Starting a new garden can be exciting but it pays to keep at least one foot in the top soil otherwise you may bite off more than you can comfortably cultivate.

This may sound a bit rich bearing in mind I’ve just finished turning over an additional 30 square meters out the back. Combined the two gardens are now approximately 66 square meters. For me it’s no big deal because as mentioned in previous posts my vegetable gardening addiction began almost 35 years ago.

If however this is your first foray into the dirt try starting out with a more manageable size, say 3 square meters and see how it all pans out. When you catch the vegetable gardening bug as you undoubtedly will it’s easy to go bigger and bolder.

On the other hand it’s possible that your current level of enthusiasm could wane and you may not feel the same excitement after your first growing season.

You may feel that this “growing your own isn’t what it’s cracked up to be” or there’s just not enough of your week left to be tending veggies and pulling weeds.

Like any interest or hobby in life there’s little point if you don’t gain enjoyment and satisfaction from it.

Garden Boundaries Marked Out

Some old real estate open home sign holders and thin rope was all I needed to measure out the boundaries for garden number two. Once I decided on the garden’s location and size I set about with a sharp spade to cut the turf in to manageable pieces and turned them over. Its a good idea to work them into the garden as they will rot and break down adding further organic material to the soil. In addition to this I dug down a further spade depth to ensure there would be good garden depth plus soil that would be easily workable when its time for next springs first plantings. I believe some gardeners term this as double digging, to me it’s just hard graft.

I could have hired a rotary hoe and sped the whole process up as certain enterprising members of my family suggested but decided instead to cut and turn a little every day.
Like the first garden parts of it were hard going due a considerable number of small rocks that had to be removed, that old farm track again.

The whole job was completed in about a week.

Second Garden

Now that the hard works been done all that’s required to finish vegetable garden number two is the wooden edging and the addition of some compost and organic material. Doing this will help to increase the volume, makeup and richness of the soil.

That’s a job for another day.

Favourite Quotes:
It is utterly forbidden to be half hearted about gardening. You have got to love your garden whether you like it or not. W.C. Sellar & R.J. Yeatman - Garden Rubbish 1936

Growing Up With Strawberries – Part 1

Old Clay Pipes

When I spotted these old clay field pipes on Trade Me last week I immediately started to imagine an eye catching feature in my garden with these pipes neatly arranged to accommodate my first crop of strawberries.

The temptation of it all was just too much. These days I’m tempted by the “simple things” in life.

I had to have them!

After some fierce bidding I finally won through for a price of $17. Can’t be bad, less than a $1 a pipe. Even if this project turns out to be a dismal failure which I’m sure it won’t, it’s certainly no bank breaker.

Trade Me is a wonderful place to buy plants, seeds, whirligigs, thingamajigs and other bits of “useful junk” for your garden.

Surprisingly in all my years of gardening I’ve never grown strawberries as I always felt they weren’t worth the effort. Admittedly part of this current attraction is not only growing the fruit but making the contraption for them to grow on.

Should be challenging and lots of fun.

As at the time of writing I’ve cleaned the pipes and they sit neatly on the laundry deck awaiting the next stage in the process. Amazing what a little water, a scrubbing brush and some elbow grease can do.

Stage two is still on the old grey matter drawing board … an old wagon wheel might work ! … food for thought.

Let me know if you have one or two in your back yard as I’m on the hunt.

Any how stay in touch as there will be future updates and hopefully plenty of strawberries.

After

Thanks to Bevan and Nikkie for allowing me to use their Trade Me photo.

Favourite Quotes:
The love of gardening is a seed once sown that never dies. Gertrude Jekyll

Anzac Day – A Special Time To Remember Them

As much as I love working in my vegetable garden there are times when it takes back stage. The 25th of April – Anzac Day is one such time.

My Dad - War World War II veteran

21st battalion Auckland War Memorial Museum

Above: My father Leslie Hamilton Dunn served in the 21st New Zealand infantry battalion 1939-45 and fought against Erwin Rommel’s troops in Egypt.

Alex Beaton

Wall Of Remembrance Auckland Museum

Above: My great uncle Alexander Beaton missing in action at the battle of El Alamein Western Desert Egypt 15th July 1942. 18th New Zealand infantry battalion. (5th name down from top middle row)

Posthumously awarded the New Zealand Memorial Cross. Instituted, 12 September 1947 by King George VI. Awarded to the next-of-kin of New Z ealand service personnel killed on active service (since 1995, this includes deaths during peace-keeping operations). Award is made to the nearest female relative if there is both a mother and a wife 2 crosses are awarded.

Robert Dunn Senior

Above: My grandfather Robert Matthew Dunn after returning from the Boer war 1899-1902 Seventh contingent No 23 company Nelson section & No 24 company Canterbury section made up of 28 officers and 572 men.

” They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old.
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
we will remember them”

Anzac Service 2009

Dawn service at the cenotaph Auckland War Memorial Museum.


Successful Vegetable Gardening Is All About Location Location Location

New Garden From Upstairs Landing

Now that you’ve decided to start a vegetable garden one of the first and very important questions facing you is, “where is it going to go?” Here are a few points that will hopefully make things easier and ensure your gardening experience is an enjoyable one.

Aim for maximum sunshine.

  • Regardless of the size of your property you will need to seek out that spot that receives the greatest amount of sun. The consensus seems to be between 6 to 8 hours per day. The more sun your garden gets the better your vegetable harvests will be.

Before deciding on any final boundaries check out the suns coverage then you can rest easy knowing that your garden will receive enough light and warmth. Take notice of such things as trees, walls and other fixed objects and the effect that these may have.

Your garden won’t perform to it’s peak if your neighbours 100 years old oak tree shades it for half the day. Large trees can also mean intrusive root systems that will rob your vegetables of much needed nutrients and moisture.

I love trees but not near my garden.

Obviously your garden’s location will be determined by the size of your land. As the above photo shows our garden is smack in the middle of a large area which means good sunshine hours every day.

If possible position your garden in an area where it will be sheltered from the wind. Such things as hedging and trellis work can be used to lessen it’s effect but always be mindful not to block out the sun.

All of my gardens have been “out the back” as this gives me privacy and lessens the chance of vandalism or yahoos jumping the fence and helping themselves.

The lay of the land.

  • A level or gently sloping site is ideal as this makes for good drainage and easy management. However like the tailor we all have to work with the cloth we’ve been given.

A steep or low lying site shouldn’t stop you from having a productive garden, it just means a bit more toil and sweat building up beds that can be easily cultivated and that drain freely.

Keep it close and user friendly.

  • As any gardener worth their salt will tell you the secrets of successful vegetable gardening  is to do a little often. It is therefore a wise move to locate your garden within easy distance of your kitchen. Having it as visible as possible also helps with the ” feel good factor” especially if you’re a newbie plus friends and visitors can’t help but notice your horticultural handy work. My family have now grown accustomed to my continual bragging about this or that vegetable.

My garden is the first thing that greets me (after my lovely wife that is !  … ) as I make my way down to breakfast each morning. If anything is amiss such as rabbits or birds up to their old tricks I can sort it smartly. Also having your garden close by means grabbing that tomato or cucumber for that spur of the moment salad is just a easy hop skip and jump away.

Amazingly your children probably won’t even object when asked to fetch something you’ve forgotten.

Finally a word of caution.

Sometimes our enthusiasm can overtake common sense. You’ve now decided to start a garden and can’t wait to get digging. Very understandable as I’ve been there and done that.

My advice especially to first time gardeners is to check out your site thoroughly. Don’t rush in even if it means taking a few days to choose the right location.

Whether you turn your plot by spade as I have or by rotary hoe it’s hard graft therefore getting this aspect right is crucial. You only want to do it once.

Favourite Quote:
Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realise we cannot eat money. Cree Indian Proverb