In the herb gar­den

NZ Lifestyle Block - - Feature | The Home Herb Business -

the ac­coun­tant wanted to know how much each square me­tre pro­duced

CATHY GROWS her ba­sic herb range in gar­dens about the size of three ten­nis courts. ts. It in­cludes pars­ley, sage, rose­mary, thyme,me, Ital­ian pars­ley, gar­lic chives, stan­dard chives, Viet­namese mint, nor­mal and choco­late mint, fen­nel, rocket, basil, co­rian­der, a bit of com­frey, tar­ragon, dill and lemon grass.

The herbs are spray-free. She uses di­atoma­ceous earth (fos­silised fresh wa­ter al­gae de­posits) which she says acts as an or­ganic in­sec­ti­cide, com­pletely nat­u­ral and cer­ti­fied or­ganic. She has also built a rab­bit­proof fence, re­cy­cling her father’s ten­nis court fence and cov­er­ing it with shade cloth as a wind­break.

“The pre­vail­ing westerly is quite windy. I could shoot the rab­bits but it’s a time thing re­ally. You’ve got to sit out there and wait for them.”

Go­ing by the grey fur she dis­cov­ers on the liv­ing room floor, her dogs are also good rab­biters.

The soil is good, a rich layer of top­soil over wet Okoia clay, with an iron-pan un­derneath. She has built up all the beds, then rows within the beds, to let the wa­ter run off. She has also im­ple­mented a new mulching sys­tem she learned from Back to

Eden, an or­ganic gar­den­ing film. “(The pre­sen­ter) went into the for­est one day and re­alised you don’t need to dig the soil up. He no­ticed how it rots; there’s a layer of leaves and sticks so he emu­lated that. You put a layer of com­post about 2-3 inches thick on the ground and on top of that a thicker layer of ar­borous mulch. All I need to do is tweak what I’ve been do­ing. The mulch sys­tem is good be­cause my soil is quite clay-ey and I’ve been putting gyp­sum on it. I’d bought a ro­tary hoe but now I’ll be sell­ing it and load­ing com­post onto the gar­den from my calf shed (she gets 90 cu­bic me­tres ev­ery year). How­ever, herbs don’t have high fer­tiliser re­quire­ments.”

In the be­gin­ning she says she over­planted, but now she can see scope for fu­ture growth.

“We planted in win­ter and the herbs looked great in spring so we started sup­ply­ing fresh herbs to lo­cal restau­rants. It was a good way to start. The ac­coun­tant wanted to know how much each square me­tre pro­duced.”

She still sells fresh herbs, but mainly con­cen­trates on her dried prod­ucts.

Cathy's dogs en­joy the sun, but are ev­ervig­i­lant for rab­bits.

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