My musings on things
I feel passionate about...

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Utter Joy: tomatoes, zucchini and seaweed

Oh my goodness. We are right into tomato season. Big juicy tomatoes. This year, so far we haven't beaten our record of two summers ago, when we had a single tomato weighing 480 gms.

We may not have quite the weighty tomatoes this year, but, oh boy, we have ABUNDANCE. We have already made our first batch of Tomato Relish and the second one is on the go, as I write.

January is the season for zucchini - we are picking them every day. I have been making 'Jacquie's G F Chocolate Cake'. My two grand-daughters, Frankie and Aubrey love it; little do they realise that they are having a healthy dose of green vegetable!

Iced with Chocolate Ganache, made with 72% chocolate, it really is a delicious healthy treat.

January is a great time, while the tomatoes and zucchini are busy growing, to keep up with the jobs that are longer term and are future based, like seaweed collecting and compost making.

I am so very grateful to have a ready supply of seaweed.

Where I live in Auckland, I am close to the beach. Every day on my early morning walk, I observe what gifts moana - the ocean has deposited on the beach overnight.... ... kelp seaweed, drifts of seagrass mixed with leaves, even planks of wood. I am happy to be the queen of foraging!

Seaweed has so many uses ... I put it in our compost as a booster to the decomposition process, I mulch with it. I make a delectable concoction (to plants) of comfrey and seaweed tea, which I use as a foliar spray on plants as well as to jazz up the compost pile.

The speed at which kelp seaweed breaks down is astonishing. After about two months, the only trace of it in the compost is some sand and perhaps a claw like root which attached it to the seabed.

It is amazing how much seaweed can come up on to the beach after a storm from the north / east. It is a wonderful surprise!

On another beach close to where I live, sometimes I find big drifts of seagrass. It is often mixed with leaves, creating the perfect mix of nitrogen and carbon.

Researching seagrass, I have learnt that it isn't a seaweed but very similar in structure to plants. It grows in most areas on the planet and is super important environmentally.

'Seagrasses support commercial fisheries and biodiversity, clean the surrounding water and help take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. Because of these benefits, seagrasses are believed to be the third most valuable ecosystem in the world' 

(If you are interested, you can find out more about seagrass here.)

Seagrass is so easy to use as it is dry in texture and light. It takes much longer to break down, so is ideal as a soil improver and makes a great mulch, as shown in the photo below right.

Gardening is a process. When I look back over the photos from the five years I have been gardening Kawerau Garden, I am amazed at how much change has occurred.

We have made major changes like digging up all the grass, building fences for espaliering some of the many fruit trees we have planted (35 at the last count!),

The bones of the garden have been in place some time ... and now my mission is vertical - to build up all the beds so as to create deeper richer soil. I use whatever shows up ... driftwood makes for curvy garden beds, planks create order and straight lines... both are great and give the garden individuality and a sense of freedom and interest.

How does this relate to our inner world?

We have periods in our lives - that can last a month or a decade or just a week, when we are in full flow. We are fully engaged in a project - we may eat, sleep and breathe it.

Like my tomato and zucchini plants!

Just like plants, when we are in the flow, we still need nourishment and water. How easy it is to not even notice the hours speeding by when we are engrossed in something. It is a wonderful feeling - and, it cannot last forever.

I have a new project taking shape, literally.I found a velvet quilt in an Op shop which I am going to embellish with leaves inspired by our iconic Pohutakawa leaves.

More about it next month! I am super excited and so inspired to have found an amazing vintage / second hand kimono and Japanese fabric outlet here in Auckland.

Watch this space!


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