100 Days in the Garden

Day 50: Lunch

 Whole sandwiches have been popping up in the garden lately.  Complete with three varieties of lettuce, slices of kohlrabi, and mustard (greens).  Add a side of kimchi and you've got a meal-CRUNCH! 


Day 49: Day 37 is a Chioggia Beet


Day 43: Cabbage!

 They don't call this cabbage 1 kilo Slowbolt for nothing.  This thing is a monster! 


Day 41: Transformation

We had some visitors over for Thanksgiving dinner today-a friend of ours who has two little girls.  They were shy at first, but after they helped me pick some fresh peas to put on the table, all apprehensions faded and they spent the afternoon laughing and giggling, exploring the garden and looking for fairies.  The garden was transformed.  Today it was not a laborious chore to be looked after, nor was it merely a food providing landscape.  No, today it was a magical land full of hidden treasures, and spectacular mysteries.  Amazing how different a place feels-how different a place is- with children around. 


Day 39: Firsts

When I first arrived on the farm, I was amazed at all of the fruit trees we were growing here that I'd never seen before.  However, the mild growing climate and the amount of time I am able to allocate to the plants, as well as the lack of pressure to produce for sales has allowed me to experiment with lots of vegetables I've never grown before as well.  Some first for me so far have been:
mung beans
different colors of carrots
purple cauliflower
different varieties of squashes
broad beans
Brussels sprouts
perennial beans

Many of these things have yet to mature, so I have not decided which will become part of my future garden and which will  be a one time only sort of deal.  I already know that the white carrots are out.  They don't taste very good, and the okra plants are very weak.  But the broad beans, on the other hand, are very easy and quite tasty, even if they are a lot of work.  And if the amaranth is successful, I would love to continue growing it, as well as try out some other grains. 

Day 38: Clue 

The veggie below is a root vegetable.  A lot of people say they taste like dirt.  Their darker skinned sibling turns your poop purple!  (Which is the real reason I love them.)

Day 37: Name this Veggie!


Day 36: Savory Saturday: Hot and Sour Soup

Inspired by a quarter head of cabbage, a garden full of leeks and three sorry looking mushrooms.

1 Leek
3 Sorry Looking Mushrooms
1 Hot Pepper
4 Garlic Cloves
Chunk of Ginger, chopped

Saute the above ingredients in oil.  Add:

Broth (I'd suggest beef or veggie)
2T Soy Sauce
Zest and Juice of 1 Lime or Lemon
Chopped Cabbage

Simmer till cabbage is soft.  Squeeze in a little more citrus just before serving or into each individual bowl.  Serve with leftover rice and chili sauce.  


Day 35: Note to my Mother

 Perhaps it was the rose bush that reminded me of your anniversary.  We have a single rose bush on the property.  When I got here it looked very unhappy and crowded where it was, so in the fall I transplanted it to the middle of my medicine garden.  It's doubled since then and just yesterday I noticed that it started to flower with beautiful little red buds.  I didn't think i really liked rose bushes till that moment.


Day 34: Edible Flowers Part 2: Daylilies

I've known for awhile of the edibility of the common daylily but had yet to try it out until one rainy day a few months ago, I was making dinner and needed one more vegetable for a lackluster stir-fry.  The garden was producing a lot of greens and broccoli, but little else.  Needing a bit of color, I pulled a few puny carrots and looked around for a little yellow or red.  I found both in the barely opened buds of tomorrow's daylily blossoms.  After one meal, I was hooked.  Now I use them like any other veggie.  I haven't tried the stems or the roots yet but I hear they are edible as well.  



This is hard.  I'm not sure if I can keep it up.  Day 27 gave me the idea to make each day one of the five senses this week, but I've let nearly the entire week slip by without even making one post!  This could mean many things: A) I'm a failure, B) I lack self-discipline, C) I've been working too much, or D) I detest being on the computer for more than 5 minutes at a time.  I'd like to believe its the last one, but I'm pretty sure B is the most accurate answer.  I thought that Chad, being the sweetheart that he is, would say that I am working too much, but upon questioning, he immediately responded, "You lack self-discipline.  And it takes less than 5 minutes."  And as he so nicely reminded me earlier, "Excuses are like buttholes....."

While I'm already doing a bit of complaining I suppose I should report: I was furious yesterday when I saw that some little rascal got into the garden and dug up my rhubarb plant!  My precious little rhubarb that took forever to find and I so nicely tucked in.  I couldn't believe it.  I spent the whole day fuming about the hole that was now in the place where the rhubarb used to be.  That was until I went to plant mung beans in the bed and realized that the hole was dug next to the rhubarb and the dirt was piled up on top of it!  Oh joy!


 Day 27: New Scent
I know I've missed a few days, so I'm going to play a little catch up.  I'm glad Chad noticed this and helped by picking up the slack on Day 24, but apparently he doesn't understand the "in the Garden" criteria of this project so he may not be doing any more.

Never smelled a citrus blossom before I stuck my nose into the white petals of this orange tree....divine....

Day 26: Evening Musings

I love the time of night as it is getting dark, after the sun goes down, when you can still see clearly, but everything is in grey scale. 

Day 25: Edible Flowers, Part One: Nasturtiums

Peppery flavored, beautiful in salads, come in lots of shades of orange, yellow, and red.  Just be sure to check for aphids before you add them to a dish!  These things grow like weeds around here. 

 Day 24: Lizzy Takes a Break, Chad Takes Over

Shoreline start
Today I (Chad), had the wonderful and glorious task of being an on-hand spotter and emergency swimmer for the opening event of the Auckland Central Masters Harbour Swim series 2012-13.  Auckland Harbour Swims are a series of swim events of progressively longer distances put on in the Auckland harbour.  These plucky folk don wetsuits, or not, and swim anywhere from 1.4Km to 4.5Km in ever changing oceanic conditions with  rather strong currents and large tide fluctuations.  There where approximately 250 swimmers for this first event.  This one was the Herne Bay swim.  More info can be found by following the link posted above.  I was lucky enough to enjoy the comforts of great foul weather gear and the enclosed cabin of Waiheke Rescue Coastguard Vessel.  As I said before, some of these folk went out in a swimming cap and man-kini's.  What's wrong with New Zealanders?!?
Part of our fleet... Kayaks, Coastguard, and Dinghys oh my!

Day 22: Sheet Mulching

Sheet Mulching: A technique used in Permaculture that allows you to plant in a space densely overgrown with weeds or grass.  Instead of pulling up the weeds or rototilling them under, you layer organic material, cardboard, dirt, and mulch over the top of them.  This saves the hassle of pulling massive amounts of grass and roots while at the same time preserving the structure of the soil underneath.  

Aude, who is wwoofing with us from France, helped me sheet mulch an area for rhubarb today.  We also built a raised bed to contain all of the material.  I meant to take pictures of all of the steps but we got a little wrapped up with what we were doing and had to hurry before the rain came.  The little rhubarb looks a little lonely in his big new bed so I think I'll plant some sunflowers and veggies to keep him company while he grows up.  

Anecdote: When I had the idea to acquire and plant rhubarb at Uma Rapiti, I wasn't sure how to go about doing that.  Are rhubarb plants even sold in stores?  When I think of rhubarb, my mind reverts back to my 7-year-old self that just moved into a new house in the country.  The house came complete with an overgrown rhubarb and asparagus patch.  Since then, I've thought that a place either had rhubarb or it didn't.  It wasn't something you planted.  You were either fortunate enough to have some already growing or you'd do without.  Silly way to think, I know, but when I started asking around on the island about where I might find a rhubarb plant, no one could give me a straight answer.  I know people have it, but apparently no one was willing to part with a small bit.  I ended up finding a little $2 plant at the massive garden store Chad and I visited.  When my plant gets bigger I'll share, because everyone should have their own rhubarb growing in their backyard. 

Weedy corner/future rhubarb bed
Aude pounding the last few nails of the border
Makeover complete and one little rhubarb planted in his new home


Day 21: How do you explain 'okra' to someone who has most likely never seen it and barely speaks English?


Day 20: Earth Oven

 Today we baked.  And baked.  And baked.  Chad started the fire in the earth oven at 8am and by 11am it was hot and ready to go.  While the oven was warming up, the wwoofers and I began making bread dough.  It's 10pm now.  Everyone who joined us for the day has either gone home or gone to bed.  I still have pumpkin pie in the oven.  We're all too full to eat it anyways so I'm tempted just to leave it in there over night and hit the hay myself.  No, I'd better go check it one more time...
Menu for the day (in order of baking).  
Pita Breads-Complete with the pockets (made by Elizabeth)
Garlic Naan Bread (made by Charlotte, from Germany)
4 Pizzas (collective effort)
Pretzels-Way better than Aunt Annies (Charlotte and her two other German friends)
Pain Au Chocolate-Chocolate croissants (Aude, from France)
Sourdough Bread-needs work (Elizabeth)
Focaccia Bread-This was quite the competition (John and Jennifer, from US)
Roast Chicken and root vegetables (Chad)
Pumpkin Pie-withe pumpkin roasted in the oven and homemade crust of course (John and Elizabeth)

Pretty impressive considering I was the only person present who had ever made bread before today!


Day 19: Raised Beds  

Chad built this raised bed for me today to increase the available planting space in the garden.  Then we tucked in okra, eggplants, and chili peppers, all the while crossing our fingers that the chickens wouldn't jump in the minute we turned our backs and dig them all up a again.  So far so good, although Pirate has managed to destroy multiple other plants this week.  

 Day 18: Companion Planting

I know day 16 and 17 went by without a post, but due to being more than a little under the weather, Chad banned me from working in the garden the past couple of days.  I slept a lot and today I was back in action.  Today's tasks included planting a companion for the grape vines.  I read in a book that hyssop is supposed to increase grape yield so I planted the herb on each side of each little grape vine with hopes that years from now these vines will be heavy with the juicy little fruits.


Day 15:  "Asparagus Emerging"



Day 14: Planting

We have two wwoofers staying with us right now.  One young woman from Germany and the other from France.  Today they helped me plant citrus trees, beetroot seeds, chickpeas, and cauliflower, Brussels sprout, and basil starts.   The languages that are thrown around in the garden make for a wonderfully comedic scene.  There is quite a bit of pantomiming involved and lots of laughter.  My french word of the day: chou de Bruxelles  (Brussels sprouts)


Day 13: Recipe

Today I was going to include the recipe for the strawberry rhubarb crunch we had for dessert, but because no one reading this will have either of these spring time fruits available, I thought I'd offer something more fallish.  This is a dish I cooked up for a vegetarian friend's birthday last fall.  I write recipes without specific amounts like this because 1) I don't measure anything and 2) people have become too dependent on recipes in order to cook or bake something and have lost the ability to follow their instincts regarding what would provide sufficient nutrition while at the same time taste delicious.  In fact, this is not really a recipe but rather a suggestion of what I feel are complimentary flavors.  All recipes should come with a disclaimer that reads something like this and includes permission to exhibit one's own creative license if he or she does not have certain ingredients, something else is more plentiful, etc.

Patrick's Pumpkin & Walnut Birthday Lasagna

Pumpkin (roasted in water till tender)
onion, garlic and sage (roasted with olive oil)
heavy cream
salt and pepper
nutmeg, allspice, and cinnamon

puree all ingredients for sauce in a food processor or blender or mash well

Cheese Mixture:
1 lb goat ricotta (easy to come by when you work on a goat farm)
1 c mozzarella
1/2 c parmasan
1 egg
swiss chard (steamed)

Layer the pan like you would a normal lasagna, alternating sauce, uncooked noodles, and cheese mixture, but sprinkling the cheese with toasted walnuts as you go.  Top with lots of mozzarella and Parmesan!  

Bake at about 375 F until the noodles are soft and the cheese is brown on top.


Day 12: Strawberries!

Throughout the winter, each time I saw a ripe strawberry, I'd turn it over only to find that the majority of it had already been eaten.  I started eating them when they were still half white just so I could compete with the slugs.  So many are ripening each day though now that the slugs can't keep up!  More strawberries for me! 

Day 11: Busy Bumble Bees Buzzing around Blue Borage Blossoms


Day 10: Carouby Peas

Oh purple blossomed peas
Saying "pick me please.
And let us dine together at lunch."

  "I will!" I reply
 And pick you from the vine.
(You'll be so sweet and tasty to crunch.)

Day 9: Guess this Seedling!


Day 8:

The sun is shinning after days of wind and rain.  I'm leaving the garden to Chad and the Wwoofers today.  I've got a babysitting gig watching 11 month old twins from sun up to sun down. 


Day 7: One week down.  Yeehaw.  

Tonight's dinner menu: Swiss Chard (from the garden) and Mushroom Cannelloni
                                  Homemade bread (from the breadmaker)
                                  Fresh garden salad

Swiss Chard and Mushroom Cannelloni

Cannelloni noodles
Mozzarella Cheese

 Sauce: canned tomatoes
           fresh herbs-oregano, thyme, rosemary, sage, basil
           salt and pepper 

Pasta Filling: sausage
                    swiss chard
                    ricotta Cheese
                    eggs-one or two
                    parmesan cheese
                    pinch of nutmeg
                    salt and pepper

Combine all ingredients for sauce and simmer.  Cook sausage.  Saute leeks, garlic, and mushrooms.  Add swiss chard till wilted.  Combine sausage with leek and mushroom mixture and let cool.  When cool, combine all ingredients for the filling and stuff cannelloni noodles.  Cover the bottom of pan with a little sauce, place noodles in pan, cover with rest of sauce.  Top with mozzarella cheese.  Bake at 375degrees F for 35 minutes or until noodles are soft.  Cool 10 minutes before serving.


 Day 6: Ladies and Gentlemen, the long awaited....CAULIFLOWER!


Day 5: The Garden Center

I spent exactly zero hours in the garden today.  Instead, Chad and I took the car ferry over to the mainland and spent 4 hours wandering around the biggest garden center I've ever seen.  It was an incredible maze of every variety of plant available in the entire Auckland area.  And it was exhausting!  And totally overwhelming.  But well worth the trip.  We came home with 2 mandarins, a lemon, a mulberry, 3 gooseberries, 8 ranga ranga lillies, 6 bougainvilleas,  2 passion fruit, a boysenberry, several different types of flowers, and a little baby rhubarb.  Unfortunately, they did not have any bamboo and the worker that I asked looked at me sideways when I mentioned caper bushes, so assumed they didn't have any of those either.  Chad tells me that gale force winds are in the forecast for tomorrow so it looks like we'll have to put off planting for at least a day or two.


Day 4: Madame Spider 

Big Mama here, who I believe is a nursery web spider, decided to have all of her babies on my cauliflower plants in the greenhouse last night.  Congratulations, new mother of 600! 


Day 3: Volunteers!

The temperature must be rising because I'm seeing new volunteers popping up in the greenhouse.  Throughout the winter tomato volunteers were abundant.  For every lettuce seed I planted, two tomatoes would sprout to accompany it.  Then, a few weeks ago, I started seeing squash seedlings coming up in places where I definitely did not plant squash.  These space hogs need to be plucked out to make room for my precious little okra, onion, and basil seedlings.  A couple of days ago I noticed a rogue pepper that sprouted amongst some leeks.  Signs such as this do not go unnoticed by a girl who has just been through an entire year of winter.  Who needs a book to tell you when the right time is to plant different seeds when nature is perfectly capable of providing you with all of the information you need.  All it takes is the time to observe what's happening around you. 


 Day 2: Lemongrass

A delicious addition to the garden, it has provided much inspiration for Thai curries, soups, salad dressings, and even tea.  Not the most attractive plant, but quite versatile and the more perennial food bearing plants that we have, the less work for us!  A veggie garden wouldn't be complete without annuals like tomatoes or peppers, but any food that grows itself is welcome in my garden. 



Day 1: Amaranth

My first attempt at growing a grain.  (Unless you want to count corn.)  One plant should produce at least an ounce or two of grain.  That means our tiny little patch here could potentially give us 12 pounds of food!


  1. Amaranth is such a beautiful plant! Can't wait to see it grow for you!

  2. And it's a pretty red!

    Love, A.S. (your cousin)

  3. Ah, Liz! This is so wonderful! What a treat you are giving us northerners headed into Winter. Thank you so much for sharing!!!

  4. I congratulate you on your persistence and patience. The gardens are beautiful.Mom & I miss you.

  5. Is your mystery veggie a beet?