The LPL Home Garden Report

It’s been awhile since I’ve reported in on the current state of affairs in the LovePlantLife home testing garden. Despite the best efforts of two littlies take up all my attention, the garden is doing surprisingly well. But it has been a bungled, mish-mash of growing what I can get into the ground rather than a planned and super-productive attempt at feeding the family, testing and growing for seed. But hey, sometimes it’s just like that.

It’s been a good growing season so far. Lots of sun, a heap of rain, good wind for air circulation and not too humid. Reports from around the Kapiti district are bountiful and very pleased although there has been a bit of psyllid action attacking tomatoes.

white dutch runner beans

white dutch runner beans

I love my beans. Right now I have 7 varieties growing — some for eating, some for testing, some for seed saving and the Kapiti seed bank, and maybe some to sell to you (but only if I can be assured of the best results). You need great plants to produce good seed and you never count your seeds before they hatch.
The pole beans have been producing very well. Bicolour pean beans, good mother stallard, holy bean, selugia are strong and vigorous growers that are providing a lot of food. I love the satisfying meatiness of the selugia. So much so, I’m keeping my crop to myself this year. I simply haven’t grown enough, the season just got away from me. So the best laid intentions to bring them to market this year just wont be realised. Sorry.
purple pod beans

purple royalty beans


Purple royalty dwarf beans are gorgeous in the garden with big purple and green leaves and very prolific producers of purple pods. The beans do lose their colour when cooking and they aren’t my favourite steamed bean but they’ve been great chopped raw in summer salads.

The borlotti firetongues are still by far my favourite dwarf bean. And we sell a ton of them year after year proving you love them too. Green or shelled or dried for winter storage, they are versatile and delicious.

There have been some surprises. A clear sign that there has been crossing is when your large white Dutch runner beans develop the gorgeous orange blooms characteristic of scarlet runners. Certainly weren’t any of those planted. So I’ve diligently been removing the blooms for use in salads or for tea parties, to prevent further crossing. Coccineus is a devil for crossing.

zinnia chromosia

zinnia chromosia

The brilliant burst of colour from the zinnia chromosia is just magic in the hot summer sun. The monarch butterflies have been all over them.

sanvitalia in the vege garden

sanvitalia in the vege garden

Grown for the first time: sanvitalia. It is a relation to zinnia (you can see it in the foliage). The thumbnail-sized orange flowers are quite adorable, but smaller than I expected. Because of its spreading habit, I’d like to try it next year as a groundcover amongst the tomatoes.

And yes, tomatoes. There are lots of little green baubles hanging out there. Let’s see what ripens. I am growing sweet virginia (a delicious orange heirloom), a special potato-leaf purple heirloom, some gold nuggets, moneymakers and black zebra, that has seriously vigorous growth. Took off big side branches as they were breaking under the strain. And leaves are a deep dark green

magenta spreen

magenta spreen

Spinach is looking large and leafy, coping well with the sun. And there is plenty of magenta spreen (tree spinach) to pad out my two favourite spinach intensive dishes – spanakopita and paleek paneer. Lettuce is still going strong. Forellenschuss particularly, while little gem is hiding under the protection of the tomatoes.

shield bugs on the echiums

shield bugs on the echiums

Pests and diseases? Well, not much to mention really. Slugs are our main issue. A few fluffybums, and some vegetable bugs. I don’t have brassicas in the garden at this time of year so only a couple of white flies checking things out. Not a lot of aphids but I’m keeping an eye on them.

So we are doing well and I put this down to a number of factors:
  • That trench composting and green cropping I did over winter has looked after me very well,
  • Pulling out unhealthy plants,
  • Regular pest patrols,
  • Keeping lots of variety in the garden,
  • Not growing too much of any one thing,
  • No spraying – preferring swat and squish methods of pest-control,
  • Feeding birds on the lawn next to vege beds. Birds are going through the garden and eating a lot of the insects. It does mean some things need bird netting though.
The quinoa, amaranth, chia bed that I was super-enthusiastic about in Spring never happened. I also forgot to plant our favourite zucchinis, much to my husband’s disgust. Boy have we missed them. There have been a lot of missed opportunities but there has still been a lot to eat. This gardening gig is always an ongoing experiment. A delicious one.