New Year’s wishes

I can’t believe this year is over.

It’s gone amazingly fast (most of it), except for when I was waiting for seeds to grow and moaning on here about that!

We’ve had some awesome things happen in our lives this year, for better and for worse.  I’m hoping 2012 brings more happiness for the now & gwen house, and that the ground stops moving in Christchurch.  I already have new ideas for the garden next spring if we’re still in this house by then.  I guess only time will tell :)

Starting this blog is probably one of the best things I’ve done for myself in ages.   I never really expect people to read it, but it’s always a blessing to receive lovely comments from you, and it’s been awfully therapeutic for me.  I’ve needed an outlet for a while and gardening, while quickly becoming my most favorite hobby, is quite a solitary experience for me.  It’s been wonderful reading so many blogs and (e)meeting so many lovely bloggers out there!

Things are still full steam ahead outside!  I picked my first King of Blues beans today and blanched them in some salt water.  They tasted amazing, and were longer than my hand — I wasn’t expecting them to grow so long!  The kittens had to inspect them before cooking, of course.  In the picture, I’d snapped all of then in half, so picture them twice as long as that.

I think this variety of beans would be really great to grow if you have kids.  Watching them turn from a dark, purple-black to green while they blanch is lots of fun!  The magic happens very fast. :)

I also tied up the peas a bit more today, and pushed them over the top of the fence so they’ll grow in that direction instead of flopping over.  Some of them have started to yellow.  I’m not sure why exactly!  I’ve always read that peas don’t need much fertilizing/feeding, so I haven’t really feed them in a while.  I’m wondering if it’s a deficiency or if they just really dislike being so close to spring onions.

I picked a bunch of sugar snap pods and lots of huge snow peas that I’ll be eating for dinner tonight!  I’ve found that the pea pods have a really sweet smell when you pick them, even though the flower has dropped off of it days before then.  It lingers on your fingers like marigolds do when you’re deadheading them.

I moved the red sail lettuces from bed #2 to bed #1 to make room for all the tomatoes and capsicum plants.  They were touch and go for the first day, but they’re settling in nicely and look like they’ll be bolting this week.  We had some really hot days last week that made my green lettuces bolt, so I pulled them from bed #1.

I spotted our first tomato today as well and let out a little cheer!  Nearly all the full-sized tomato plants and pear tomato plants have flowers on them now.  In a few weeks I think we’ll get a lovely first crop!  I can hardly wait :)  We’re going to attempt making our own chutney & tomato sauce with what we harvest in 2012.

The nemophilia is looking as lovely as ever, with the white snowstorm poking up through the baby blue-eyes.  I think this flower will be a keeper for me.  I’m going to look forward to growing them every year.

Best wishes from now & gwen to you and yours! :) See you in 2012!


Leon & Damara’s first Christmas

We needed a pick-me-up after the plantnappers hit again, so Santa came on Christmas Eve for Leon & Damara…

What did Santa leave for Leon & Damara?

What is this thing?  What do we do with it?

Hmm...what is it?

It smells really interesting.  Let’s see what’s inside!

Damara always lets Leon do the hard work.

I can help with the twine, Mom.

Damara finally decides to help

Maybe if we both pull on it…

I need to floss anyway!

Maybe if I pull on this one…

It's green!

Wow, it’s fluffy, like us!

How... exciting.

Thanks, Santa!

Thanks to Ben for taking pictures!

Did Santa leave anything for your pets?

Plantnappers & Christmas

Sorry for the lack of posts!  Work has exploded with activity, I was out-of-town for a bit and then before I knew it, Christmas had come and gone.

Things in the garden are exploding, too.  I can’t keep up with the lettuces, and I’m getting so many snow peas that I could eat them at every meal and still have more! :) Luckily, I love snow peas.

I can finally tell the difference between the sugar snap peas and snow peas, by the way.

King of Blues BeansMy king of blues & scarlet runner beans are starting to come out.  It’s really cool to see these little sticks on the vines turn into beans!  Even though Ben doesn’t eat as many veggies as I do, he loves the idea of being able to grow your own food, so he’s getting a real kick from how much our garden beds are giving us this season.

Our Christmas was really lovely.  We got to spend the day over at Ben’s parents’ house and have an amazing lunch there.

I really got spoiled this year!  Ben got me a Wii with the new Zumba game & Wii Fit because he knows how much I love Zumba and how the original dvds are getting a bit boring for me.  I also got two pairs of glasses.  I haven’t had glasses in about ten years — my old optometrist used to yell at me for that.

Ben’s parents have been reading along here and spied my garden wish list post from a few months ago.  They gave me a dwarf lemon tree and english lavender for Christmas!  And Ben’s brother got me some socks (I love socks! I always need socks!) and some new gardening secateurs.

On a sad note, the plantnappers struck again early Christmas Eve morning (or Christmas Eve Eve? night).  I went outside to water the garden late on Saturday and opened the door to find that Mr. Courgette had been stolen. They weren’t so neat about the roots this time and left quite a few of them, which looked really horrible because they were still bringing up water and just sticking out of the bed, dripping.

I’m not sure if whoever doing it is just screwing with us, or if they really like courgettes, but I was (and still am a bit) heartbroken.  Ben is really upset as well…we just feel a bit powerless at this point to really try and stop them from ripping out everything else that I’ve worked so hard to grow.

Pretty fly on a pretty marigoldI was really discouraged about bringing any of the plants I’ve grown from seed out from around back, but I really have no where else to put them and what’s the point of having two new raised garden beds if I can’t use them?  I’m trying to not let the plantnappers keep me down, so I’ve done some rearranging in the garden beds since then, and I’ll do a picture post tomorrow to show you the updates! :)

Leon & Damara want me to post about their holiday as well, so stay tuned for that!

We hope your holidays are going smashingly well! 

December 2011 Bloom Day

Yesterday was the Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day! I had this post ready to go and then my internet went down. *shakes fist* Every month on the 15th, GBBD is hosted over at May Dreams’ Gardens! :) You should definitely click through to see what’s blooming all over the world today.

Crystal apple cucumber flower

My cyrstal apple cucumbers are putting out flowers left and right! They’re still only babies, though, so I might pinch them off.

Snow pea flower

Snow peas are out of control!  My tummy likes it. :)

English thyme flower

Some thyme flowering beside my little sage plant! :) Cute flowers.

Scarlet runner bean flower

My scarlet runner beans! Lovely color against the green!  Very festive.

Nemophilia baby blue eyes flower

My nemophilia flowers are going crazy, too.  They’re funny, floppy little things and I’m really loving them!  So are the bees.  Lots of bumble bees and honey bees out on sunny days!  Unfortunately it’s going to rain the next five days or so. Sigh.

What’s blooming in your garden?  Or in your house? :)

Courgette mystery illness

I thought it was time for another garden update! Everything’s going smashingly well, so far, except for one thing, which you’ll see further down…

Raised garden bed #1

I’m wondering if my scarlet runner beans are actually sunset runners, because the flowers are more orange than red?

Look at those freaking lettuces.  I can’t keep up with them!  A couple of weeks ago, I picked heaps (two bulging grocery bags full) and gave it to the turtle lady for her rescued turtles to eat.  Ben’s Dad came by yesterday and I sent him home with a bag, too.  And I had salad for dinner!

Raised garden bed #2

Russell says hi from his spot on the porch!

Mr. Courgette has some rusting happening on his leaves…and powedery mildew that is common on courgettes.  The more I look at the leaves the more I wonder what the hell it is on them.  I have heard of yellow mosaic disease, but I can’t find any pictures of that which look like the leaves on mine, and I don’t think it’s rust fungus, either, since there are usually little pustules of rust on the underside of leaves when that’s present.

We had a really hot day yesterday, but I first noticed this two days ago or so…and I pulled off about five leaves today.  Here are some more pictures (click for bigger views):

Courgette leaf

Courgette leaf (underside)

Courgette leaf

Courgette leaf

Courgette leaf close up

Courgette leaf close up (underside)

Courgette plant

The fruits aren’t disfigured in the way that yellow mosaic disease presents..and the new leaves aren’t deformed from what I can see, so not sure what’s going on! I know I need to treat the powdery mildew — every time I go to spray with a milk solution, it rains.  We’ve had so much rain this season.

The kind folks over at Vege Gardening New Zealand Style facebook group are also trying to help me diagnose this, but if any of you awesome readers have seen this before, please let me know what I’m doing wrong!  It could be that I’ve gotten water on the leaves while watering, and then it’s gotten pretty hot (scorching?) — I’m going to try bottom watering from now on, because I’ve read that courgette plants prefer that.

Any idea what’s going on?

Adventures of Leon

..the wide-mouthed cat.

I let the kitties out for a run in the back yard today.  Not because I really wanted to, but because Ben let food fall onto the bottom of the oven and it filled the lounge with smoke, so I needed to clear the air.

I originally had the kitties closed out of the lounge, but their pitiful cries made me open the door so they could have some adventures in the back yard.

Damara didn’t want any pictures taken, so I played paparazzi to Leon.

He thought it was brilliant, and happily mewed to me while I followed him around.   Mewing is not to be confused with meowing.

Mewing is the sound of a happy Leon!   Meowing is the forlorn sound he makes when I bring him back inside.


He obsesses over this tuft of grass.  I know I need to trim it back again!  Leon’s quite happy to do it for me…


Hmm, yes.  Wonderful taste, this grass.  Strong notes of summer with a hint of rain.

Leon says, "AH!"

This one makes me laugh so hard.  Yeah.  That’s my Leon. :)

Supporting your peas & other tips

peas galore!If there’s one thing I’ve learned about peas, it’s that they need support!  And not the pep talk kind.

I thought I’d tied up my peas well enough, but a few shoots have managed to grow taller than the fence, and not use their little tendrils to hold the actual trellis I’ve made with twine.

We had some really gusty winds this week and I went outside and found those shoots folded in half.  I think I found them fast enough to get them tied back up without any major damage, but I felt bad. :(

Also, sugar snap peas don’t like being planted too closely to spring onions, but snow peas don’t seem to care!  I do have a row of carrots down in between my peas and spring/green onion, because I read in companion planting guides that peas don’t like onions.  I thought it was just bulb onions, though.  Clearly I was mistaken, and carrots just don’t cut it as a barrier.

My snow peas are all over the show, but my sugar snap peas look a little yellow towards the base of the plants.

And my last word of advice on peas, don’t do what I did with my two different kinds of peas.  I planted them in groups, next to each other, because I thought I’d be able to tell the difference between them.

Fat chance, Gwen.

Next planting, I shall alternate my peas and beans, so I can clearly see the difference! Lol! Right now, I have to follow the stem all the way up to see if I’m picking a mature snow pea, or an immature sugar snap pea.  They both taste good, btw.

Do you have any funny pea stories to share?   Give peas a chance! *cough*

Christmas trees and cats don’t mix

I know I probably sound like Captain Obvious, but it’s been a few years since Ben and I put up a Christmas tree and I’d totally forgotten what it was like to have kittens and decorations.

Usually it’s just too hot for me to think it’s actually Christmas (because Christmas should be cold, don’tchaknow), and Ben usually doesn’t care one way or another.

christmas treeThis year, since we’re in a new house, I thought it would be neat to put up the tree.

Damara and Leon love it. 

So much so that I wake up to find its lower branches almost touching the floor because they like to pull them down.  They also like to fall asleep under it, which is adorable, so I can overlook the fact that I’m adjusting branches daily.

I haven’t been able to get any clear shots of them under it because it’s so darn dark under there and they’re black, so yeah.  You get the picture!

The older kitties must really take after Ben, since they really haven’t paid the tree any mind.

We weren’t really going to do Christmas this year, since we’re saving for things, but now that the tree up, Ben thinks we should (so not what I had in mind by decorating).  Not sure what to do there!  I wasn’t planning on that happening.  I’m quite alright with having no presents, since we got my new (to me) phone, and Ben got some new hiking shoes that he’s wanted for a while.

first strawberriesIn the garden, there’s not much to report!  Things are still doing the ‘growing’ thing! :)  I did harvest my first strawberries a couple of days ago, though!  Next time I think I’ll let them get as red as the one in the middle before I pick them — that one was a lot sweeter than the other two.

They actually look pretty festive! :)

Do you celebrate Christmas or Yule?  What gets you in the holiday spirit?


A snapshot sort of Sunday

I know I haven’t posted much this week, but hopefully next week will be different! Definitely feeling better now.

Things are really taking off in my garden, whether I feel good or not! I look back on pictures of only couple weeks ago and things are so much bigger than they were before.  I guess when you see it everyday, you don’t notice the change that much.


I love, love, love these marigolds.  Not all of the ones I have are this kind and I have no idea what they are, but they’re so fiery!

Stuff is bigger!

See?  Stuff is really bigger!  I’m not making this up.  I need to get some more potting mix so I can put those tall tomatoes in their own big pots where they’ll be nice and happy.

Cystal Apple Cucumber

My smallest crystal apple cucumber plant is trying to get going already, and she’s not even planted in a garden bed yet!  Well, she wasn’t when I took this picture.  I had a head of lettuce mysteriously wilt on me suddenly, so the cucumbers got that spot!

Royal gala apple tree

And look at this little guy! He’s almost doubled his height in a few weeks.  Good work, Mr. Appletree!

MMMM yum.

My strawberry plants seem very happy, too.  I should be able to pick these in a couple days!  Strawberry shortcake, here I come.  You know those little sponge cake cups you can buy to make strawberry shortcake in the US?  Can’t find them here.  Guess I’ll have to make my own somehow…or maybe I’ll do cupcakes.  I’m starting to drool just thinking about it.

The first flower!

I saved the best picture for last (in my opinion, anyway).  My first nemophilia flower opened yesterday!  I watched the flower bud over a few hours and the last time I checked on it, it had opened!  Since then, a few more have opened up in that tire and in the back, there are a few out there, too!  I’m so excited :)  They’re so dainty.  I know I crowded them pretty badly in the tires, but I’m hoping that the tires are deep enough for them to forgive me.

How are your gardens looking? If it’s winter where you are, I hope you’re snuggled up nice and warm!

Running out of thyme…

But I’ve got plenty of well-rested cats, if you need one.

Remember a few weeks ago when I mentioned that my thyme was mysteriously dying off?  Ben discovered the culprit.  I heard him exclaim, “Oh dear!” and rushed out to the lounge to see what he was oh dearing about to find something extra on my table of herbs outside…

Yes, that is a Moose growing where my thyme should be sprouting, next to Henry & my coriander (yep, the dragon’s name is Henry).

It appeared overnight! 

No idea how it got there.

Maybe some seeds blew in on that gusty wind we had the other day?

Unfortunately we were afraid to confront the Moose head on, so that’s why the pictures are so blurry!  I eventually yelled at him to get out of there and he skedaddled off over the fence, leaving behind some mashed thyme sprouts that have sprung back well.

I guess I’ll have to put some cat butt deterrent in that pot, like I did with this tire planter yesterday.  Thank goodness my neomophilia are really good at bouncing back after playing cat bed.

Not a kitty bed!

Seeing my sprouting Moose did crack me up quite a bit, though!  My stomach hurt that day, so it was painful to laugh, but it was so funny. 

Silly cats! *shakes fist*

Have your furkids ever decided your garden plan needed some help?

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