Green-fin­gered friends share se­crets


It is not sur­pris­ing 86-year-old Ian Blue can pro­duce a boun­ti­ful veg­etable gar­den - even in win­ter. He has been gar­den­ing since he could walk.

Blue, a re­tired po­lice­man is one of three oc­to­ge­nar­i­ans who vol­un­teers at the Roxburgh Com­mu­nity Gar­den, in­clud­ing re­tired South­land farmer Alan Favel, and found­ing mem­ber Alice Moore.

Blue cred­its his mum with teach­ing him a lot of what he knows about gar­den­ing, and be­ing one in a fam­ily of 15, grow­ing their own veg­eta­bles was im­por­tant.

‘‘My mother al­ways be­lieved you had to put back into the gar­den what you took out. Mum had such a good gar­den. I learned a lot from mum.’’

Blue has helped es­tab­lish a num­ber of com­mu­nity gar­dens.

Be­fore mov­ing to Roxburgh, Blue was liv­ing in Blen­heim where he started one, and prior to that he was liv­ing in Christchurch and helped es­tab­lish the Sprey­don and Opawa com­mu­nity gar­dens.

Alan Favel said the gar­den’s orig­i­nal mem­bers in­vited him along to help out for ther­apy and to ‘‘keep us off the street’’.

The gar­den, which had been go­ing for about six years, was a great out­let to give re­tired men some­thing to do, he said.

‘‘I en­joy getting out of the house...I started gar­den­ing in 1942.’’

The pair were happy to share gar­den­ing se­crets and tips with the younger gen­er­a­tion.

Blue said worms were es­sen­tial for a pro­duc­tive gar­den, and dou­ble-dig­ging was a must.

‘‘If you are start­ing dig­ging your gar­den - dou­ble-dig. You re­move the top soil off and dig the sec­ond depth down and go backwards.’’

The couch weed also had its uses be­lieve it or not. He buried the weed and it pro­duced a ‘‘very good gar­den,’’ he said.

Peo­ple were asked for a do­na­tion in ex­change for veg­eta­bles to cover costs.

The gar­den re­ceives do­na­tions from var­i­ous com­mu­nity groups and mem­bers and a sup­ply of wa­ter was also given from the Roxburgh Med­i­cal Ser­vices Trust.

Vol­un­teer Ca­role Hyn­d­man said the vol­un­teers were pas­sion­ate and had valu­able knowl­edge to share.

‘‘We learn from th­ese old gar­den­ers. They have such a pas­sion for it. I think gar­den­ers are (pas­sion­ate).’’


Ian Blue and Alan Favel at the Roxburgh Com­mu­nity Gar­dens.

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