Potatoes have beautiful flowers


The garden I have now isn’t the garden I started with.  My first proper garden was in a swamp.  I didn’t realise it was in a swamp in the beginning as I was keen to get started and completely naïve.  I just knew I wanted to grow my own food so I could have a healthier lifestyle.

The first version of that first garden was amazing.  I grew everything I could think of and it all grew well.  I thought it was all me – I was a natural.  But looking back, one of those elusive perfect growing seasons where the weather was ideal, and the pest populations were low resulted me catching the gardening bug wholeheartedly.  I suspect if I had started my journey in any one of the growing seasons since I may not be where I am today!


Humble beginnings
Humble beginnings

That first garden in that first season was dug straight into the ground and for most people the soil beneath our feet is just fine for growing in, without the need for fancy raised beds.   The soil I had was amazing stuff.  You really can’t beat swamp soil – except as swamp soil – it has the tendency to hold water.  In summer this is great and another reason my first attempts were so successful.  However, buoyed by my initial success I decided to grow a winter garden in our mild climate and all was going well…  until the rains came.  The soil type is known as the sponge of the soil world and can hold 20x its own weight in water!  But it also had a tendency to raise the water table above the level of the ground.     During the first heavy rain in my winter garden I panicked.  The garden was flooding, and I needed to save it.  In my naivety we tried to scoop the water out but the more we removed the more there was.  We gave up when my carrots sailed by.

Um, Yeah... she gets a bit soggy!
Um, Yeah… she gets a bit soggy!

The next version of the garden was a raised bed built from one of the horse fences that surrounded the property.  Then I took down another fence and made another bed and another and before I knew it, I had 35 raised beds and no fences.    It was a productive garden, kitted out with a fabulous irrigation system, thanks to the good people at Gardena.   It not only provided our family with all our vegetable needs, but a surprising side affect was a blooming career as a garden writer.  I was in my element and had made my peace (most of the time) with the occasional flooding.

A full and flourishing garden
After a decade a huge and productive garden was my pride and joy.

Then we moved.  I cried when we left. The garden was almost and extension of who I was.  But with the promise of having a new garden at the new place I began the process of building a new garden in a new place.  This garden was built in a season, with improvements based on lessons learned the hard way during the previous decade.  There was a partial season in there where I had to resort to container gardening and have full respect for those who garden this way successfully.  It is not an easy way to grow food.

New garden before
The site of the new garden didn’t look too daunting.

The new garden has its own set of challenges, it is beside the sea, with its strong winds, on a sandy soil.  The beds are raised once again to help negate the problems drainage problems with the less than ideal soil.  They are filled with lovely swamp soil from the 6 truckloads I brought with me.  There are the same number of beds, laid out in a different way.  I knew how much space I needed to grow what I wanted to grow and fiddled about with grid paper hoping for a beautiful potager style garden only to find myself with functional utilitarian rows!


There is a whole different kind of learning to be done in this garden and in this environment and so the journey of the garden will continue to grow, and so will my journey as the gardener.  A good gardener never stops learning.

14 thoughts on “GARDEN

  1. Awesome and amazing would love to continue making a plan this year to do a plot for our sunday school children

  2. Hi Sarah, I have 3 beds & some pots, I lost all my tomatoes this spring because I didn’t rotate my crops.
    I haven’t a lot f garden can you tell me the best way to rotate spring & winter.
    Many thanks

    1. Hi Lyn. Crop rotation can come across quite complicated and some plants can benefit others by growing in a spot something else was. But in a small garden you could just grow the same things as last season in the next bed, or even just move everything in the garden bed one space to the left each season, Managing the spring to winter crops is trickier as it depends on when things finish and when the new plants need to be planted so they don’t hold each other up. This can also vary with the seasons so finding out as much as you can about how long things should take to grow and then hope for the best. Making adjustments each season based on experience can help refine things. Pots can be cleaned and refreshed with fresh soil if necessary – the old soil can go onto the beds with different crops in it. I hope you have better luck with your tomatoes next time and manage to find your crop rotation rhythm. Cheers Sarah : o)

  3. Hey Sarah…we are just looking at getting establish on a new lot of land and I was wondering if you have on blog on how and what you used to make your garden beds? Thanks in advance 🙂

    1. Hi Theresa, sorry for the delay getting back to you – the blog was in the midst of a remodel. There are a few posts about the garden beds – https://gardeningkiwi.wpcomstaging.com/2018/05/29/laying-down-in-beds/, https://gardeningkiwi.wpcomstaging.com/2018/06/11/building-beds/ and https://gardeningkiwi.wpcomstaging.com/2018/06/16/the-great-leveller/. If you poke about in the archives around May, June and July 2018 you should get a good idea of what we went through to set the garden up. I hope this helps and all the best with your land. : o)

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