Organic vegetable garden the pick of the crop
Gardening isn’t just a hobby for Michael Owen, it’s a way of staying upbeat and feeding himself.
Mr Owen’s vegetable garden has been named the winner in the vegetable category of Housing New Zealand’s Gardening Awards for the Morningside neighbourhood unit, which qualifies him for the national awards.
When Mr Owen moved into his Ponsonby flat two years ago, the backyard was a barren lawn.
With the help of some friends, he dug it over to create vegetable beds, bordered by recycled bricks.
Now it sports a wide range of produce, including tomatoes, lettuce, marrow, red onion, silverbeet and several herbs.
“All the stuff in there is organic. I collect the seeds to replant for next year. I don’t see the point in buying seeds all the time if you can propagate them yourself.”
Before moving to Auckland, Mr Owen lived in the Bay of Islands and discovered gardening during a difficult time in his life.
“I was working in a job that was very stressful and low paid. I got pretty depressed and ended up taking time off work. The only thing that pulled me out of depression was gardening.
“I hadn’t really gardened before. But there’s something about digging your own plot. The pills didn’t work but gardening did.”
Mr Owen enjoyed gardening so much that when he moved to Auckland, he got his garden up and running again.
Being vegetarian means he can live largely off what he grows and always has far more produce than he can eat, which he gives away to friends and neighbours.
Mr Owen says most of the time gardening isn’t time consuming unless he is pulling out old plants and putting in new ones.
He was pleased to win the competition section for his unit and says he will use his prize of Mitre 10 vouchers to get new compost bins.
Nearly 2000 people around the country entered the awards in the five categories, which included general gardens, vegetable gardens and children’s gardens.
“We had a phenomenal number of entries with the most popular categories in our region being small and vegetable gardens,” says Auckland central regional manager Denise Fink.
She says the corporation is proud of the ef- forts the tenants put in.
The general garden winners for Auckland:
Ngaire Collis from the Mt Roskill neighbourhood unit, Colleen George from the Morningside neighbourhood unit and David Starkey from the Onehunga neighbourhood unit.
Edible paradise: Michael Owen in his prizewinning vegetable garden.