Our beloved little herb garden near the entrance to the Whanganui Environment Base and Re-Use Academy was removed by mistake six weeks ago. Even the plant labels disappeared.
The border was replaced by herb, vegetable and flowering plants in small plastic pots arranged in three tiers on an orange pallet propped up against the wall. They needed daily watering in the fierce February heat.
WhEBsters were somewhat taken aback at the sight of bare ground. Heads shook.
A flurry of emails flew around the team. Three of us met. We wanted to reinstate our little patch of simple sustainable goodness.
We were told the site had looked "weedy".
Sustainable Whanganui has showcased a few hardy herbs in that narrow dry strip of earth for years. Sometimes we picked them for herbal tea, salad or medicinal purposes.
Four WhEBsters tended the plants regularly, enjoying the tiny ecosystem that offered pleasant surprises like ripe cape gooseberries.
At home I nurture edible weeds for salad and grow herbs for tea which are nutritious and cost nothing.
Tea bags contain plastic — long after the contents have rotted away in a compost bin, the bag remains.
Two weeks ago, I was delighted that some of our herb plants had returned. The first to appear was peppermint, then lemon balm.
On Monday last week, I noticed a few borage seedlings and one tiny nasturtium plant. My heart sang. Such is nature — even in a drought, some plants survive. I picked two peppermint leaves and savoured the delicious tea in celebration of Papatuanuku.
The nasturtium will need a climbing apparatus.
Oxalis, dock and paspalum will be suppressed with thick cardboard and mulch.
The onion weed will stay — after all, it's edible, even the flowers.