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This is what May means to me in New Zealand; in England it was Hawthorn blossom and May Poles. When I first arrived on these fair shores, my uncle and I used to have a Broad Bean competition – he unfailingly won, now I know why! His soils had had years of compost, comfrey tea, and love. Mine never stood a chance. BUT, now my soils too have had years of the same and I wish he was still here to see the results of his teaching.

April 30th saw our sixth Garden for Wellbeing workshop in with ten gorgeous guests, each with their own unique story. The weather held for us yet again thankfully!

The April Cohort learning about home composting techniques

In early April, I had a splendid trip to the Sculptarium the St Heliers Horticultural Society & Garden Club, where I am currently President. Highly recommended.

Maurice Hawke (a March guest at GFWB) treated us to a beautiful presentation about the Pourewa nursery and Maara Kai (food garden) on Kepa Road. Breaking ground in August 2020, the Iwi have invested hugely and are already reaping the rewards with over 3000 native plants being raised and sold for our roads and huge quantities of delicious Kai (food) free to the local community twice a week from the gate. The team are restoring the walkway along the creek and all are welcome.

For my PDC, (Permaculture Design Certificate) with Trish Allen from Rainbow Valley Farm Trust, we visited four very different properties around the area to hear about their permaculture journeys.

I have also been putting a lot of effort into planning my vege garden, adapting Koanga’s garden guide to suit my garden. See overleaf, along with some thoughts on ‘The Ruth Stout Method’, both of which I hope you find very useful.

Finally, your $20 off vouchers for your friends are valid for life if you haven’t used them so please encourage them along to one of our workshops. We are planning an extra workshop in June to make Clay Ollas – more to come on this!

So, this month, don’t forget to sow your broad (fava) beans and start planting your early garlic now to beat the rust!

"The human soul is hungry for beauty; we seek it everywhere – in landscapes, musics, art, clothes, furniture, gardening, companionship, love, religion and in ourselves. When we experience the beautiful there is a sense of homecoming”

John O’Donohue, Irish philosopher and writer


Crop Rotation Planning (with the Ruth Stout no work gardening method)

This year, I want to focus on Crop Rotation – this is the art of moving your crops around according to what they do for the soil and to avoid spreading any disease that may linger into the next season’s crop (e.g. tomatoes and potatoes are the same family so can suffer the same diseases – don’t plant them consecutively).

I could never keep the rotation plan in my head so I made up a little rhyme which keeps it firmly available whenever I need it – it is “LEGUMES (nitrogen fixers) LEAVE (leafy nitrogen hoovers) FERTILE (fruit – best low nitrogen, high P&K*) ROOTS (mop up what’s left ready to start again!). This little play on words has really helped.

With the help of a Planning guide from Koanga Gardens, I used a spreadsheet to map out the crops I want to grow and then planned my four beds. In summer, this bed will be Legumes, (peas, and beans) followed by winter leaves in 2022 (cabbages etc.) and then summer fruits (tomatoes etc.) I have three other beds which will all start with a different family and follow the same rotation plan.

Although this has taken a wee while to put together, I have thoroughly enjoyed it and it has removed a lot of the stress of ‘the random’ for me. If anyone would like to know more, I will be running a teaching workshop in June from my home in St Heliers.

Download the newsletter for step by step rotation planning.

I have heard from a few of you that with the recent rains (hurrah!), your hay is ‘sprouting’! Here is what to do if this happens – both options are easy and very little work indeed and you can do both together if you like. Please let me know your experiences and any other problems you might be having. 😊

1. Simply turn over the hay – the roots of the sprouts will not be in the soil providing you have laid the hay thickly enough – four to six inches, (10-15cm). And/or

2. Add more hay on top to shade out the sprouts – they will die!

The Charles Dowding No Dig Method - Compost!

So! Who is Charles Dowding? He is an English market gardener who has adapted the Ruth Stout method to a very wet cooler climate using very thick compost rather than hay.

The important thing here is that the initial compost MUST be thickly laid – at least 4-6 inches, (10-15cm).

Again, like Ruth Stout, we don’t dig as this would disturb all those hardworking soil micro-organisms who are feeding our plants – yes, the compost feeds them – remember 1 elephant’s worth per ¼ acre. They, in return from sugars from the plant’s roots, feed minerals to the plants – a beautiful symbiosis.

I am playing with trying both!

What to do in the garden in May


Moon Planting:

Friday 14 May through to 24th May are great planting days for all ‘above ground’ veges.

Plant or sow your ‘Roots’ 8 & 9th May or 29th & 30th May.

So, here’s what’s good to sow and plant in St Heliers right now:


• Greens: Rocket, Kale, Winter Lettuces, Spinach, Silverbeet, Peas & Sugar Snap peas, Broad Beans, Onions. (P.S. Welsh Bunching onions are perennial and awesome!) Coriander.

• Prepare your garlic beds with compost and manure.

• Roots: Beetroot, Carrots, Radish,

• Keep going with Microgreens on your window. Cover these with vermiculite to avoid damping off fungus.

Plant Out:

• Greens: All Brassica seedlings (Kale, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Broccoli etc. Baby versions are quicker to harvest. Plus, Celery, Chinese cabbage, and all of those above.

• Roots: shallots and onions. Early Garlic to beat rust

• Herbs: Trim perennial herbs now. Split chives and plant out rooted cuttings of mint, rosemary and Thyme. (P.S. Tender herbs like Dill and Mint can be dried and kept in airtight containers)


In Containers:

Calceolaria, Cineraria, Cornflower, gaillardia, Poppy, Russell Lupin, Scabiosa, Snapdragon, Stock, Sweet Pea, Wallflower.

Direct in ground:

Alyssum, Candytuft, Calendula, (which has edible flowers), Clarkia, Cornflower, Daisy, Forget-me-not, Godetia, Larkspur, Linaria, Russell Lupin, Stocks, Sweet Pea, Wallflower.


Anemone, Cyclamen, Daffodil, Freesia, Hyacinth, Dutch Iris, Ixia, Jonquil, Muscari, Narcissus, Ranunculus, Scilla, Sparaxis, Tritonia, Tulip, Watsonia.

Vertical Planting idea

This stunningly beautiful wall is in Russell. Made very simply with Reinforcing mesh, naturally rusted and filled with sphagnum moss, it has been planted with a variety of succulents which are virtually no maintenance – just a wee trim every so often.

Garden for Wellbeing May 2021 Newsletter
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