Plants of the South Pacific talk

The great reset…

The great reset  …once I finish coughing!

This year has been really light on the gardening – it has been maintained but that is about it.  The combination of a horribly wet start to the year curtailed most gardening efforts because I wasn’t in a hurry to garden in torrential rain and working with sodden soil is never a good idea.   The other thing was I some how ended up with a multitude of out-of-garden garden related commitments including creating and delivering the content for a weekend workshop for learner gardeners and many speaking gigs.  The most recent was giving four gardening related talks on a cruise ship to Tonga and Fiji – but more about that later.

Plants of the South Pacific talk
My Plants of the South Pacific talk on the cruise ship that should have been a warning to myself.

There are still a couple of out-of-garden gardening related commitments on the calendar for the rest of the year, but they are exciting and as such their impact on the garden has been accepted as a given.   The first project that will step up and take a lot of my time is the annual Yates Vegie Growing Challenge.  I have been a part of this cool challenge since it started back in 2010!  It is a great community of gardeners who share what is going on in their garden during the 100 days from the start of spring until just before Christmas.  For the last several years I have had the pleasure of moderating the challenge, so I get to spend my days chatting to gardeners – who are always the nicest people and learning about their gardens.   I mean if you’re a kiwi and you post stuff about your garden on social media, why not join the community and be in to win prizes for doing exactly that!  It hasn’t started yet – I have to go behind the scenes and set the stage for the new season – but watch this space.   (Yates Spring Vegie Growing Challenge 2023)

three headed coconut
It would seem a three headed coconut in the South Pacific is a rare thing….
three headed coconut
… so rare that there is a sign for it!

And then towards the end of spring I’m once again off traveling the country to see some of NZ’s finest gardens with a bus load of tourists with Botanica Worldwide Discoveries!  I love this job because not only do I get inspiration from other gardens, but I get to hang out with the nicest people – because of course they are all keen gardeners.  It does take me away from my garden – but that is ok.

Meal cooked in a Tongan  Umu
I am always keen to try everything once and the fun things twice. I think next time I’ll think twice about the taro, but the rest was nice!

So, the trip to Tonga and Fiji was supposed to be a bit of break, something tangible to separate the year that was with a new and improved hands in the dirt garden focus with all the social media bells and whistles to go with.  And as lovely as the break was, it turned out not to be as relaxing as I thought it would be.   The first hiccup was to experience under cooked taro leaves at an umu cooked lunch.   I had just discussed it a couple of days earlier in my first talk – Plants of the South Pacific.  I told everyone with confidence that taro, while it has toxic oxalates and needs to be cooked properly to be made safe, the locals have been growing and eating taro forever so won’t serve you dangerous taro – so go for it and try it.  Well, it turns out – if there are more people in a tour group than originally expected – taro leaves can indeed be uncooked and served to unsuspecting guests.  I now know exactly what undercooked taro feels like and I do not recommend, but next time I give that talk I’ll be able to speak with confidence!   But it did put a bit of a dampener on the middle of the trip while I tried to feel normal again.

Oceanside cheesecake
To be fair, the rest of the food was amazing – especially this incredible cheesecake eaten beside the water.
I love the produces markets and the fragrance of ripe pineapples is intoxicating!

And then with around two thousand people confined to the same place – it didn’t take much for sniffs and sniffles to do the rounds and of course I got off the ship with the kind of souvenir no one really wants.  The only thing I can be grateful for is there was only one line on the covid test.

Sunshine in winter
We did have some grey days but I still managed to catch some sunshine and a warm 27C. We won’t see this kind warmth for months.

So instead of throwing myself into all things garden and getting stuck into my planned fresh new start, I’m sitting in my cosy nook, in my cosy chair, filling myself with all sorts of cold remedies so I can get out into the garden as soon as possible and get this new growing season started.

Warm seed raising corner
There is no problem with the warmth of the heat mat at my seed saving station – signs of a new season ahead.

Come again soon – the new season is paved with good intentions – once I feel better.

Sarah the Gardener  : o)

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