Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Go The Greens!

No, I'm not (necessarily) outing myself as a supporter of the Green Party on Saturday - election day here in NZ. I'm just observing that my world is progressively turning green as spring finds its stride.

I'm on a mission to get more veges in my life, especially of the leafy green variety.  What's in leafy greens?  Lots of good stuff. Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Calcium, Vitamin C, folate and magnesium for a start. 

If you are not sure what all of those do, and feel the urge for a bit of food-nerdery, a good resource is the Linus Pauling micronutrient information centre.  

The Problem

The problem I had with getting greened up was primarily financial.  I don't know if this is a global issue, but buying fresh leafy greens is freakin' expensive. Here in NZ, you are looking at about $6 for a bag that lasts one meal and is mostly cos or iceberg lettuce, which aren't nutritional wunderkinder. In addition, it is usual to find the leaves a bit wilted and smelling slightly 'plastic bag'-y. It is also difficult to find anything organic except lettuce and kale. Sad situation.

The Solution


As you can see, we do not have an enormous yard and it is dominated by three massive vege boxes, two of which are covered. The covers keep the bugs out and give cold-sensitive plants a chance if the weather craps out, but mainly the tents represent cat-proofing.  You know what a freshly dug area with a few small seedlings looks like to a lazy feline?  The perfect place to go potty.  Yes, we are that considerate to our cats; we even provide a nice soft toilet area. .. nicht, nicht, nicht (shoo! get outa there, you dirty little....!).

The first year we had just one box (the one closest in this pic) which spat forth a sparse crop that was full of caterpillars. It was insane. Every time Miss J came to visit, I'd put her on caterpillar control and send her home with 30 or more new 'pets'. Her mum really appreciated that.

I had heard that after a serious bug attack, the next crop will be somewhat immune. I didn't believe it, but whoever spoke it, spoke truthily. The next year we had hardly any caterpillars and this year I actually haven't found one yet.  We have also planted the natural insect repelling plant pyrethrum amongst the veges and now and then deal to invaders with a rhubarb/garlic/cayenne spray. It stings the eyes, but seems to deter critters.  This year our main problem is eating everything or giving it away before it seeds. 

Like a proud parent, I must now show you my garden pics, please feign interest or I'll be hurt:

Behind the boxes there is an area where we have just planted zucchini. We have also discovered that certain root veges (e.g. carrots) don't grow well in boxes. The gardening guri (Papaprogrammer and my grandad) say that carrots need 'cold feet' and harder ground - the boxes may be too warm and too soft. 


Alongside the path is where the herbs live. The mint from Sunday's post is right there on the left.

With all of the above I am empowered to continue my sacred quest for green smoothie nirvana. Today's was pretty good.

  • Fresh mint and baby spinach leaves
  • Raw cacao beans (I first smashed them to a powder in the mini-mill)
  • Frozen banana
  • 1/2 Scoop unflavoured WPC
  • Maca
  • Sweetened with mogrosides. This is a fruit-extracted intense sweetener that I'm researching as a possible addition to the Sana range. So far I'm impressed. It's quite a lot like stevia but without the 'licorice' aftertaste.  It's also crazy expensive and you can't get small quantities.  I'll have to think on that one and crunch the numbers.
Disclaimer: whenever I say 'we' in the above post, please mentally substitute 'The Programmer', who has done 99.9% of the garden work. I am more involved in the post-production phase. 

Are there any other gardeners out there? Please out yourselves and share your wisdom. I know Shauna is about to undertake the daunting task of turning an overgrown allotment into a vege laden paradise and I'll be watching that process closely, from a distance, you know what I mean. I'm not convinced that I'd want to be sticking a spade into frozen ground in Scotland, but I'm sure that people less lazy than me would rise to the challenge. Or perhaps, try it and decide to retire to the pub and wait for the thaw. It could go either way. :D  

Coming up: workouts I have loved to hate lately.

1 comment:

  1. I hate that leaves are so expensive to buy - they're not quite as bad here, but still over-priced. Especially considering that if you buy the bagged variety, it invariably turns to sludge within a couple of days.

    We just don't have the room for a lot of produce here, and the veggie patch is probably the only thing I miss about our old place. I have a couple of herb planters though, and stick basil and some chilli plants in amongst the ornamentals elsewhere. I did manage to fit in four feijoas, one lemon, one lime and one kaffir lime (espalier is brilliant!) but I'm still figuring out where I can squeeze in some other stuff....


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