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.