Gardeners pay it forward for home abundance
Ki Mansell is looking forward to eating the first tomatoes grown in his garden.
The Linwood man and his girlfriend Ivy Shaw have started growing their own vegetables two months ago with help from the Hand over a Hundy programme and their gardening mentor, Jacqui Barnes.
The programme aims to help New Zealand families learn to grow their own vegetables so they can save money and maybe even make some by selling surplus produce. The families pay $100 over to the next family, and they are provided with seeds and mentoring for a year.
Mansell and Shaw first heard about the programme at a Ministry of Awesome meeting and decided to sign up because they had been trying to grow a vegetable garden for a while with little success.
"We don't really have much of a garden and we've only been able to do herbs," he said. Volunteers from Hand over a Hundy helped them to set up raised growing beds and plan what seeds should go where and when.
He learned about rotating plots and the correct planting season for different things. The garden has vegetables such as spinach, beans, bok choi, chillies, garlic and radishes, and some are ready to be harvested.
"We had snow peas in our dinner last night. It's great. It makes everything taste sweeter and better than market bought stuff.
"I'm really looking forward to tasting the tomatoes because most of the tomatoes grown in New Zealand are grown hydroponically [without soil]."
Their mentor, Barnes, has been an avid gardener for about 20 years and volunteered to be a mentor when she read about the programme.
"It's fabulous," she said of teaching people how to set up their own vegetable garden. "Gardeners get together with other people and they enjoy discussing [gardening]. They are such positive people.
"Even if they have a bad year with filthy rain all summer they go ‘there's always next year'.
"They are eternal optimists. Bringing someone into that and giving them the confidence and feel them really enjoying it and producing and enjoying eating it is just good fun."
She advised people to plant the gourmet vegetables they enjoy, rather than the regular items such as onions and potatoes which take up a lot of room but are quite cheap when they are in season.