I’m Melika from @our.vineyard.garden, and I’ve recently discovered a love for gardening. We built our garden last year on our home vineyard in Kerikeri. It began as only a couple of raised beds but it’s now 170 square metres and is surrounded by fruit and olive trees.
Gardening is definitely my happy place. I began gardening because I wanted a little escape from the business of mum life, but it’s fast become my favourite place to be with my kids. They love getting stuck in, and I love that they’re learning where their food comes from.
My approach is definitely one of trial and error. I’ve learnt a lot over the past year from just giving it a go, seeing what I like growing, what grows well in our region, and of course, what we like eating. I’ve had a lot of ‘gardening fails’ but from those have come my biggest learnings.
Our garden is a mix of different growing spaces. For raised beds we’ve used old wooden picking bins from a kiwifruit orchard, plus a couple we made from trees milled on the property. We also have a large garden bed lined with old vineyard posts. We fenced the garden using concrete reinforcing mesh to maximise our growing space. It makes a great climbing frame and this summer we’ll be growing beans, cucumbers and squashes along it. I think the best feature of our garden has to be the sandpit! My kids love it and it gives me extra gardening time.
We have a short, mild winter, and a long summer, which is why we’re often called the winterless north. Our last summer was very dry, so we recycled household water to use on the garden. We also used a lot of Tui Organic Seaweed Plant Tonic to help plants cope with heat stress, and mulched to help retain water. Our soil is quite volcanic and gravelly, which means we’ve had to add a lot of organic matter like compost and manure.
My favourite thing about our garden is the variety. We have a real mix of things growing everywhere, and I love that the garden is a fun place for our kids to explore and forage in. This year we’re growing asparagus peas, something I’d never heard of but they sounded interesting. It’s been really fun watching them grow.
My favourite season has to be summer because that’s when we can grow some of our favourite things like berries and tomatoes. Our boy loves hunting for red strawberries, and soon he’ll be able to find raspberries, blueberries and boysenberries too. I especially loved growing zucchinis last summer, one plant produces so many, and they go from a flower to a zucchini in a matter of days. Blink and they’ll become a marrow! They’re also so versatile; we eat them raw, grilled, on the BBQ, in chutneys, and we even use them in baking.
One thing I have to have in our garden is herbs! There’s always a herb to grow year round, they’re so much cheaper and fresher than those in the supermarket, and we use them in most meals. There’s something so satisfying about being able to run into the garden and pick a handful of basil in summer!
You can follow me on my garden journey here