Martine Rolls: Edible gardens to the taste

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Stories about gardening and articles in the rural section on this site are quite well-read but usually don't attract many comments.

I noticed yesterday morning that people were having their say on one of them, so it made me have another look.

It's a story about the New Zealand Edible Garden Show in Hawke's Bay, which highlights one exhibitor in particular.

This lady from Havelock North, her name is Janet Luke, feeds her family primarily from their half-acre garden.

She farms rabbits for meat and pelts, chickens for eggs, Japanese quails for meat and eggs, bees for honey and has two milking goats.

She even taught herself how to butcher rabbits - which of course breed like rabbits - which is a skill she learned from YouTube.

YouTube has a lot of rubbish on it, but for quick and easy video tutorials, it's brilliant.

Since I discovered how to make sushi this way, I use the popular video-sharing website for all sorts of things.

That's why I know how to jail-break an iPhone, how to tie a tie, how to make Limoncello, and butterfly a chicken. I even know how to make money from YouTube, but that is something I haven't tried yet.

Still, it's an interesting concept for people who have more time and patience than I do.

Back to gardening, I would really love to utilise the fertile ground around my house a lot more but my hectic schedule leaves very little time.

The main reason why I'm not more like Ms Luke is that I'm seriously time deprived. If my plants and trees do well, it's due to a lucky mix of wet and sunny weather. It'll have little to do with my sporadic efforts to maintain the lot.

I do take comfort in the fact that she said that her garden is not the prettiest, but that it is functional. I recognise that.

Quite simply, I have replaced practically all plants that don't produce anything but flowers with ones that fill my fridge, keeping what's expensive in the supermarket in mind.

Then I've dotted a few fragrant plants around the place to attract the bees and sprinkle snail pellets around when I remember. That's it.

Remarkably, the spinach and lettuces I planted a while ago are really taking off, and I have high hopes for my strawberries, capsicums and chillies. Even the fruit trees are looking good.

What I would like to grow more of, but fail at every time, is healthy herbs.

I have learned, from a 2-minute YouTube video, how to germinate seeds. While closely following the instructions, I started with basil and coriander.

The basil looked promising at first, but soon gave up when I transferred it from the container to the soil.

The coriander was okay for a few weeks, but it went to seed before I had the chance to cook one decent curry.

Meanwhile, my mint plant has aggressively taken over most of my back garden.

I'm fairly sure it has crept towards the neighbours' side of the fence by now, too. There's just no stopping it. And do me a favour: do not mention the lawn.

I enjoy pottering about outdoors, it's one of my favourite alternatives to tapping things into a computer, but fighting my garden really is still a losing battle.

Daylight savings or not, there simply isn't enough time to get it tidied up, fertilised, pruned and free of weeds.

I'd have to take a week off and work non-stop to get it right and even if I'd manage that, it wouldn't last long.

I do need help, unless I pave the lot, so I looked online for tips on how to grow an edible garden that is easy to maintain.

Yes, again on YouTube. There are some great tutorials to be found there, and if you don't like watching a video to teach you how, there's help on other websites too.

If you have some tips you'd like to share with our readers, you can leave it in a comment or make a contribution online.

Just add your comment below or use the 'contribute' option on the left to upload your own story. You can add a photo of your own veggie garden, too.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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