April in the Maara

Keeping on top of regular planting is keeping me busy in the maara with the seedlings all requiring attention and somewhere to grow i.e. ongoing transplantation! Charlie and I planted the garlic gifted by Raureka Cook and are feeling optimistic…garlic is rumoured to be easy to grow the first year you ever put it in, and then never a success thereafter! This has been my truth! But Charlie has never grown garlic before so I consider it his crop and will gleefully ride the coattails of his success this season.

In the paddock the leeks and zucchinis, lettuce, celery, red onions, parsley and silverbeet, chives and cabbages are settled in and growing merrily, the broccoli is endeavouring to survive the last of the white butterfly caterpillars. We dug the paddock bed to completely remove grass after initially killing it back a bit by spreading polythene (a byproduct of our Māoriland building programme, it got taken out of the roof). I wanted a garden bed in the actual Ōtaki soil, but the problem with digging is it brought seeds to the surface so these are growing well too!

Between weed seeds and the grass making a comeback  I am kept busy and always happy to see Charlie on a Friday morning. Free Range Friday gardening with company, at Māoriland 11 Raukawa street 10.00 – midday every Friday. For our next paddock maara bed we will be experimenting with ‘No Dig’ processes which are a great way of working with settled soil… healthy soil contains living and non-living matter which interact with each other, including fungi, bacteria and other microorganisms.

This communicating ecosystem is vital for healthy crops. Digging soil exposes all the microorganisms to lovely things like oxygen and sunlight, which we like, but the microbes don’t. So we will re-use the polyethene, kill back the grass, lay cardboard on, put down some of our compost and then plant in that. The plant roots will make their way through the cardboard eventually, the card and compost will suppress weeds and the microbiome will live undisturbed nourishing our plants. 

So the cool thing is we have a ‘dug’ bed, we will have a ‘no-dig’ bed, and we have raised beds.  We will be able to observe and compare what happens, and improve our maara over time. Mahi maara really can be all about giving it a go and seeing what happens.  

The mulch photographed was gifted by Adi Leason, and is cacao husks, cool thing: smells like chocolate!

Our meadow flowers are finishing, we plan to re-sow beneath. The magic thing about our meadow was it was full of rocket, so we had masses of rocket for salads and pesto as well as a visual feast of pretty flowers over late summer.

 It’s so exciting to be looking toward events and getting together again. We have some planning underway with a whole lot of action over Matariki, including tree planting and beach clean-ups, so support us with Protecting Papatūānuku! Details will come.

Meanwhile Tania has been cooking up a storm and we had delivered much kai around town to those in isolation. Have you seen the Māoriland Kai Waka? The food is on wheels and its looking very cheerful! Look out for us…

Ngā mihi mahana