Real gar­den­ers

An in­spi­ra­tional young fam­ily

Go Gardening - - Contents -

nthony and Zar­nia Smith of Palmer­ston North make no bones about the fact they have a deep pas­sion for eat­ing nu­tri­ent­dense food, regular ex­er­cise and main­tain­ing a pos­i­tive at­ti­tude to­ward life and living. To­gether, this young goal-set­ting cou­ple want to be the best ex­am­ple of healthy living they can be for their chil­dren, five year old Te Aranga­maioteata (TeA) and three month old Tairawhiti (Tai).

“When we bought our home two years ago, we talked about how when we were kids, we ate more veg­eta­bles from the gar­den than from the su­per­mar­ket,” says Zar­nia. “Home grown food has to be the best op­tion and with my daugh­ter TeA suf­fer­ing from eczema since she was a baby, we felt we needed more con­trol over what foods she ate. One of the prom­ises An­thony and I made to each other was to get se­ri­ous about grow­ing our own veges once we bought our own home.”

An­thony, a Gun­ner in the NZ Army Ar­tillery Reg­i­ment, re­mem­bers his mum and dad spend­ing hours grow­ing veg­eta­bles at the fam­ily home in Gis­borne. “I don’t re­mem­ber my par­ents ever buy­ing veg­eta­bles from the shop. They grew ev­ery­thing in­clud­ing Kamo Kamo, ku-mara and Maori pota­toes. When I be­came a dad I knew I wanted to grow a gar­den big enough to feed my whole fam­ily.”

Zar­nia re­mem­bers se­ri­ously con­sid­er­ing study­ing hor­ti­cul­ture at school, but her in­ter­est in phys­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion took pri­or­ity. When she left school she en­listed in the NZ Army and her week­ends were spent gain­ing her Cer­tifi­cate in Per­sonal Train­ing. She also has a Bach­e­lor of Sport & Ex­er­cise with a ma­jor in Ed­u­ca­tion and a Post Grad­u­ate Di­ploma in Teach­ing (Pri­mary).

“Th­ese days I’m busy teach­ing group fit­ness classes and be­ing a mum, so keep­ing fit and eat­ing good food is very im­por­tant to me. I’ve been cu­ri­ous about hor­ti­cul­ture since my teenage years and th­ese days with chil­dren of my own to feed,

I’m hun­gry for as much in­for­ma­tion about gar­den­ing as I can get. We have spent hours on the in­ter­net try­ing to find easy-to-un­der­stand gar­den­ing in­for­ma­tion but found a lot of it is con­tra­dic­tory,” she says.

The cou­ple’s first at­tempt at a gar­den saw them fill a small raised gar­den with cheap pot­ting mix, around an ex­ist­ing baby lemon tree, in the cor­ner of their backyard. They planted let­tuce, cel­ery, pars­ley and a pas­sion­fruit vine up a string. Capsicum plants went into ter­ra­cotta pots and car­rots into a large tyre. To their dis­ap­point­ment, the plants didn’t grow as well as ex­pected, so when Zar­nia’s un­cle An­thony gave them a gar­den cen­tre gift voucher as a wed­ding gift last year, she made plans to go shop­ping for plants again.

“It was the first time I had been to this gar­den cen­tre and they ex­plained the im­por­tance of hav­ing the right nu­tri­ents in my soil. I came home with ev­ery­thing I needed to fix our gar­den and didn’t blow the bud­get ei­ther. Hon­estly, it’s easy to grow things once you know how and it’s awe­some to talk to peo­ple who want your gar­den to suc­ceed. That’s the kind of help we have been search­ing for.”

A big part of their prob­lem, they now re­alised, was that their plants needed more sun and more food. While An­thony dug pel­letised sheep pel­lets, blood and bone, or­ganic pot­ting mix and com­post into their ex­ist­ing gar­den (with ex­tra sheep pel­lets around the drip-line of the lemon tree as cit­rus need lots of or­ganic mat­ter), Zar­nia planted corn close to the fence to pro­tect it from the wind.

Their tyre gar­den was emp­tied and lined to form a bar­rier to any toxic chem­i­cals that might seep into their soil. The soil was then re­placed and fresh car­rot seed sown. The pot­ted cap­sicums were given a makeover too and plans were made to move the fam­ily’s un­happy fei­joa tree to the north fac­ing side of the house for more sun­shine.

To en­sure all their hard work didn’t go to waste, the cou­ple cre­ated a wall plan­ner for wa­ter­ing and feed­ing. The plants soon be­gan to bloom and last sum­mer the fam­ily har­vested lots of tasty salad in­gre­di­ents from their lit­tle gar­den and proudly took sal­ads to friends’ bar­be­cues.

An­thony and Zar­nia’s pas­sion for grow­ing their own food has cre­ated an un­ex­pected bonus, one they want to share with other par­ents of young chil­dren. “Lit­tle TeA has taken to gar­den­ing like a duck to wa­ter,” says An­thony with a proud smile. “She’d learnt a bit about gar­den­ing when she went to day­care, so when we cre­ated our own gar­den, she was very ex­cited. She was so keen we bought her gar­den­ing gloves, a lit­tle fork and a shovel. She will of­ten ar­rive home from school, have a drink and head straight out to the gar­den with at least one of us in tow. She’s learn­ing to be re­spon­si­ble for her plants and she loves it.”

Zar­nia plans to take all the fam­ily with her on her next visit to the gar­den cen­tre to spend the re­main­der of their wed­ding gift voucher and this time she knows ex­actly what she wants to buy.

“I want New Zealand seaweed con­cen­trate made from a re­new­able re­source from our Wairarapa Coast. It’s cold-pressed to re­tain all good­ness and en­sures veges and fruit trees get ev­ery min­eral and trace el­e­ment they need in­clud­ing Boron, Zinc and Se­le­nium. You just spray it on the fo­liage as of­ten as you can and the plants take it up through the leaves and the soil. It’s pure and nat­u­ral so even TeA can use it,” she smiles.

She will of­ten ar­rive home from school, have a drink and head straight out to the gar­den with at least one of us in tow. She’s learn­ing to be re­spon­si­ble for her plants and she loves it.”

With Zar­nia and An­thony’s en­thu­si­asm and en­ergy for achiev­ing goals, it won’t be long be­fore this fam­ily’s next plan is on the drawing board. They dream of own­ing a home out in the coun­try­side with space for a large duck pond, chick­ens and of course one very big, very pro­duc­tive gar­den where they can grow lots of the best veg­eta­bles ever for fam­ily and friends.

Left: Chillies in a pot

Be­low: Frilly let­tuce Right: Five-year-old TeA is dis­cov­er­ing the joys of gar­den­ing

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.