New show The Garden Pantry, plus a giveaway

20:20, Nov 18 2012

Kiri Danielle presents a new show on the Living Channel called The Garden Pantry, which screens on Fridays at 8pm and again on Mondays at 8pm. It's a show for beginning gardeners showing you how to grow your own food, and then preserve it for use throughout the year. Rotorua-based Kiri talks to me about gardening, her poppa and false fingernails. 

Are you a gardener?

I am, my poppa was a gardener. When I was little my poppa, who was German, used to have the most amazing garden behind some sheds in Levin. He was my maternal grandfather. His garden had tomatoes and strawberries and peas going up on screens, and he'd feed me peas straight from the pod. I was a wee little tiny girl, so it was magical. That stayed with me, he was awesome. He used to grow big beefsteak tomatoes. 

Did he teach you how to garden?

That was what sparked an interest in gardening, and my mum had a little patch, and she gave me a little patch, it had marigolds in it. I lived on a farmy-type of property and there are pictures of my brother in the henhouse. It was perfect, I had a wonderful and idyllic childhood and gardening was part of it. 

What do you have in your garden today?

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I have all kinds of salad, I can go and fill a sandwich with salad out of the garden, lots of mesclun mix and rocket, they're amazing. I'm having a crack at tomatoes. I've tried before but blight always gets them. I'm going to ask for advice. I used to just put them in the ground and let them be, but I've learnt that tomatoes and basil go really well together, I learned that from the show. It's called companion planting, matching plants together. Tomatoes are really hard to grow, but there are places in Rotorua, I've heard, where tomatoes can be grown year round because of the warmth. One of the places we've been in the show is the Government Gardens in Rotorua - the nurseries there are thermally heated. They actually started growing things to help feed people who were patients at the baths nearby during the war. It was a natural way of trying to heal with the use of plants.  

Part of this show is meeting people with skills, it kind of circles back to my poppa. I'm talking with people who have the skills of that generation. Not so long ago it was natural to have gardens. 

Do any of your friends garden?

It's becoming more popular. One of my friends the other day said, I've got potatoes in. Potatoes are really great and one of the messages that I've been trying to put out there for people to think about is that all of the children going hungry with empty lunchboxes, a baked potato is a great idea because it's quite a good meal in itself.  If you grow potatoes, they are easy to grow. Once you get them in, good luck getting them out!

Why are people getting back into learning skills like gardening and preserving? 

I believe that it's very timely with the economy at the moment. There are food shortages in a lot of places in the world, food is becoming scarce and expensive. So this show - I'm very proud to be in it, because it's really basic, and I can be humble enough to say I don't know how to do this, can you teach me? And they're lining me up with wonderul people in beautiful gardens, who are sustaining themselves from their land. 

Do you think some people are just naturally good at gardening? 

I'm no expert gardener, I'm learning along the way as well. The show is really basic stuff that people will be able to apply in their own lives. To be brutally honest, every one of my houseplants I've ever had has died. In the first episode of Garden Pantry, I put my manicured fingers in cow dung!

I was wondering how you were going to keep them clean!

I don't, they fell off two days later. I learned in the next episode to wear gloves!

Harper Collins and the Living Channel have five copies of the Yates Vegetable Garden Guide to give away. To go in the draw, leave a comment and tell me your favourite thing to grow and eat.

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