In the herb garden
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.