Mulch, magical, marvellous, mulch…

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Dahlias, colourful 'Rainbow Lights' chard, dwarf beans and 'White Emergo' runner beans on bamboo stakes. I love the sculptural quality of the Swiss chard - those seedy stalks are 2m high!

I’ve been in panic mode this week. I’ve been trying to tackle all the weeds in my garden before the ladies from the Clevedon Garden Circle come to visit on Wednesday. (I’m sure I wouldn’t be worrying half as much if it was just called the Clevedon Garden Club, but somehow ‘circle’ makes it sound so much more official. I’m half expecting the ladies to turn up in floral hats with matching handbags and posh packed lunches of cucumber sandwiches and tiny squares of Louise Cake.)

Anyway, as well as weeding, I’ve been mulching. What a difference it makes! It’s like sweeping all the dust under the carpet. I’ve used a truckload (literally) of Living Earth’s More than Mulch. It’s made from recycled untreated packing pallets, chipped and coloured with a natural black dye, then mixed with 20 per cent compost. It’s very spiffy stuff! Here’s a few more pics:

Cavolo nero (black kale) and a late crop of corn (it's the Indian heritage type). I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we get a late summer to ripen this corn!

Sweetcorn and self-sown white cosmos from last year's wedding garden

This is my favourite corner of the garden (the photo's not crash hot though). All these dahlias and rudbeckias are supposed to be in my new yellow garden at the front gate, but my husband has been too busy to excavate the bed for me... so I bunged them in here as a temporary solution.

If life hands you lemons…

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I didn’t think I could grow citrus successfully in Hunua, as when I moved here, there was only one citrus tree in the garden and it was the saddest, most miserable looking ‘Meyer’ lemon you could imagine. I think we got one lemon off it that first winter. Our garden isn’t just frosty, it’s largely south-facing, making those frosts even more frosty, if you get my gist.

When we were carving the hill below our house into terraces, we ummed and ahhed over whether to keep the scungy lemon tree (and a non-fruiting feijoa) or rip them out. I felt a stab of pity for the citrus tree and figured I’d give it another year, with a bit of care, to prove its worth. (As part of the landscaping, we’d also pulled out a shelter belt that was casting quite a bit of shade over it.)

After a good feed and a stern talking to, it has had a Lazarus-like recovery. We got at least 100 lemons off it last winter and there are hundreds more developing this year. Buoyed by its change of heart, I had a change of heart too and planted a whole citrus grove last August. Four days later it snowed and killed the tops off all my trees. Ain’t that always the way? I sense potted trees that can be shifted under the wide porch across the front of our stables may be the best long term solution.

See below for my ‘How to Grow’ citrus video for The Living Channel.