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Kay’s Garden April 2013



The garden is almost looking like a winter garden now. We’ve made around 6 cubic metres of compost this season from our summer garden carbon crops and other crops.


The compost that is going back onto the heavy feeding section of the winter garden is really great compost, made with last winter high brix oats and minerals added. I haven’t needed to add any fertiliser, only compost, and the brassicas are going for it so we’ve made a lot of difference over the 18 months since we began.


I’ve planted my early White garlic and my shallots and potato onions, I’ve divided my Multiplying leeks, my Welsh Bunching onions and my Giant Chives and planted them into the new heavy feeders section of the garden.


I’ve set up a liquid feed barrel again and will use it in a different way to the past. I’m making liquid cow manure and seaweed, and will apply it to the garden after adding vermicast and molasses to it , to hold the water soluble minerals so that they don’t burn up the soil carbon and run off polluting the waterways etc. I’ll probably use it in a watering can to give a boost to things in the heavy feeding section or the root section that look as though they need a boost.


We’re flat out drying basil, perilla, dried beans, peppers and mushrooms in the solar drier, fermenting peppers for paste and making ferments with daikon beetroot and carrots for the winter, and enjoying the Indian Summer.

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Kay’s Garden January



The season has been late but it’s all on now, the garden is looking luxuriant and magical! No pest or disease problems, although lots of life early in the morning before the sun gets hot, and the summer flowers all coming out. I showed Elanor a monarch butterfly yesterday on the Sunset Cosmos, her first!

It has been intensely hot, so watering is time consuming… I’m watering for 1- 1.5 hours each day to keep 250 sq m of bio intensive garden at good moisture levels. The temperatures have been over 30 all week, but some relief now.
The garden accepts the water far far better when you have aerated the surface weekly of all crops
where the dirt is still exposed to the sun. It is critical to put your finger down into the soil to actually
see of the water is getting down to the root zone. Frequently you can think you are watering well
and it even looks like it but the reality is it could be bone dry not far down, and an electrostatic zone
built up that repels water. Only aeration of the surface and regular watering of small amounts of
water will turn that around. You just have to keep going back and watering again and again until the
soil is accepting the water again.
Carbon Crops
If you’re looking for a carbon crop to plant at this time of the year try Lamb’s Quarters. I’m
planting that this week in the bed my dried peas came out of. It grows fast and produces amazing
carbon for the compost heap and will be the best bet right now I think
We’re eating:
crookneck squash,
White Scotch runner beans
New seasons early white rocombole garlic
Welsh bunching onions
Blue Aztec sweet corn
French sorrel
Multiplying spring onions
Henry’s Dwarf Bush Tomatoes.. the earliest
Paprika peppers (but still green)
Magenta Spreen
Buttercup pumpkins
Delicata pumpkins
Aomaru daikon
Tokinashi daikon
All of our hulless oats hulless barley, essene flax seed, and dried peas are harvested, not all
cleaned and weighed yet, will let you know next newsletter how much we harvested per sq m.
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Kay’s Garden Update January 2013

 Happy New Year!

Kay’s 200 sq m Biointensive garden, designed to supply all the veges and grains for 2 people and to grow soil! (We’ve been giving away a lot too…)

I began weighing everything I harvest from my garden again this last month as I did last year. Last summer I discovered that in 6 months of valuing the vege I harvested I HAD SAVED ENOUGH TO PAY BACK THE TOTAL FINANCIAL COST OF PUTTING IN THE NEW 200 SQ M GARDENYee Haa, we have summer and things are humming…..

This past month, even though summer vege are not on line yet, (due to  very late cold spring),  I harvested $530 worth of vege valued at supermarket non organic prices, mine were obviously not only organic but also nutrient dense. As well as harvesting $530 worth of vege I also harvested enough high brix carbon and other material to make 3 huge compost heaps, which will feed my autumn/winter garden. Our oats had a brix of 28!

Lettuces 60 ( I gave a lot away)     @$2   $120

Peas 5kgs sugar snap                 @$20kg   $100

Welsh Bunching onions 21 @ $1:95 bunch  $40

Chives 14 bunches @$1:95    $30

Puha   8 bunches @ $3     $24

Endive 10     @$3 a bunch     $30

Beetroot 7 kgs @ $5 kg      $35

Early garlic   5kgs     @ $20 kg    $100

courgettes  first few no value

magenta spreen 6 bunches @ $3 bunch   $18

perilla 3 bunches @ $5 bunch       $15

daikon    5 bunches of 3 medium size        $15

coriander   3 bunches @ $3          $9

beans first few no value

                                              Total value $536!!!!!

I estimate I spend 1 hour each day watering   5 days per week, plus another 1 hour per day doing other things 5 days a week. That is a total of  10 hours a week,( plus help from Bob this month to add charged  biochar to  all beds that had not already had it added).

I only had enough of my own compost  this spring for the  heavy feeders section of the garden, so we added Nature’s Garden again  at recommended rates when planting.

From now on I think I will have enough high quality compost to compost every crop that goes in the ground. It has taken a full year of Biointensive practices top get to that point.

We have been so impressed by the beds that had fully charged biochar added that we decided to bite the bullet and add it to all beds at a cost of $2 a kg which meant another $400 for the garden as a whole.

We haven’t begun harvesting produce from those beds yet, so we will see the results as the summer continues. The growth and brixes are outstanding.

I planted kumara in containers as our soil is too free draining and double dug so tubers do not form . Creating a box filled with compost on top of the soil will work I think.

I am planting dry beans inside all of my rows of corn this year, trying a range of varieties . It’s not too late to do that with corn that is 30cm high already and not over  50cm. Two crops for the work of one! I planted 1 soaked bean seed beside each corn plant.

I can see I made a mistake planting my Delicata pumpkins 2 to the sq m they are growing so fast and huge they will take over beds each side, the soil is so good, same with the Buttercup pumpkins…. I should have stuck to my own advice and only planted 1 to the sq m!

We harvested our hulless barley and hulless oats this month, both look excellent but not weighed yet.

Summer grains/carbon crops are mostly a mix of Blue Aztec, Rainbaow Inca  and Kanga Ma , but also Proso millet which is large seeded, good to eat, and grows super fast. It’s a great time to plant that now. I’m also super impressed with Lambs Quarters as a carbon crop in beds where there isn’t time to do anything else. I would say they produce high levels of carbon faster than any crop I know.

I’m planting beetroot, Cylindrical and carrots, Yellow Austrian Llobericher  today for Autumn eating, also daikon and salsify.

I’ve been foliar spraying Koanga BioPesticide on my potatoes and tomatoes against the psyllids.

– Kay Baxter, Jan 2013

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Kay’s Garden Update November



The other exciting thing this week has been the sun!! The sun came out for an entire week, and my summer garden began to grow. It was pretty depressing seeing the tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, okra, and even the pumpkins just sitting there looking aweful at the end of November. I just kept thinking of the endless rain and cool weather we had last summer, and even planted extra daikon, beetroot, carrots and lettuce- which all do well in cool summers  and winter just in case!! We’ve been blessed with rain, as well as sun, so things are really starting to take off.

I’m going to have another talk to Richard Watson, one of our seed growers, who lives in Amuri where it is a very long, cold winter and check out his greenhouse design. I’ll see if he will write something for us about his amazing greenhouse as well. Our house plans are about to go to council and I don’t need more convincing that a small greenhouse attatched to the house, for food production in adverse growing conditions, is a must.

On December 1st, I’m going to begin weighing everything that comes out of my garden again to determine it’s value, so I can keep real about garden economics; what comes out, for what goes in.

Last season, the first year of this garden, we saw that even when we bought all the fertilser and foliar sprays, we were able to cover all the costs of setting up the garden with the value of our Summer crop, which made our winter veges free. I’m hoping that this year, as we have added more biochar and fertiliser, we will come out far better off and that next season, when we should not be buying any inputs, the figures could  be astounding!

Right now, we’re eating: Southland sno peas, Odells, and Lightheart Lettuces, Cylindrical beetroot, Welsh Bunching onions, Multiplying Chives, Tic beans, Puha, Lamb’s Quarters, and we’re hanging out for courgettes and summer crops.

I harvested our Early White Rocombole garlic and it’s drying and will be ready to eat next week…this garlic is incredible, it tastes great, you get to eat the flower heads, it keeps well and it’s ready 6 weeks earlier than most other garlic… we’ll have lots for sale this year. Perfect for selling at a Farmers Market, just before Xmas to get top prices!

My hulless oats and barley are almost ready to harvest along with the  Essene Flaxseed

My great Aunty Nellie’s rose at my gate is flowering

The NZ heritage sweet peas are flowering

My Flour peas are flowering, they have small bi colour pink flowers and enormous tendrils which make then easy to hold up, they don’t need much support because they hold each other up!!

Right now, I’m planting… basil (it’s hard to go past Genovese for pure ease of growing and huge production and also flavour), it will finally take off, and succession crops of green beans, (King of The Blues or Purple Pod, Emu, America, and Yellow Pole are all excellent choices), lettuce (Tree Lettuce is an excellent summer cultivar, you’ll need to become a member to purchase, as Tree Lettuce is part of our institute range.) I’m also planting Finger lettuce, and Lightheart, available in the Garden’s range. I’m planting daikon of both the long white sort (Tokinashi) and Aomaru Koshun, the round one with a green shoulder and bright pink mandala insides which we all love raw, cooked and pickled. I’m making sure all my summer vege companion flowers are all in: Morning Glory, Chromosia zinnia, Sunset cosmos, all cosmos actually, Marigolds, Love Lies bleeding… all those colourful South American flowers that love growing with the South American vegetables. I’m also putting in sunflowers; have you tried Lion’s mane, an old Dalmatian gumdigger cultivar? It’s an outstanding variety I have never ever seen available in any other catalogue world wide, or Evening Sun another outstanding cultivar with multi headed sunset coloured heads. Also, Giant Russian, always a favourite, is grown by Richard Watson and selected for tall stems that do not blow over in a gale, as well as large flowers and seeds s they are quite special too.

Oh, and if you didn’t get tomatoes in, then it’s not too late to plant Henry Harrington’s Dwarf Bush Cherry, which can be grown in pots or in the garden; they crop fast and taste excellent.

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20 January 2012 – Week 14


Week 14 of my home garden.

  • Things are ramping up in the garden, we are harvesting Market Wonder beans, Crookneck courgettes, many kinds of lettuces, Cylindrical and Golden beetroot, pickling and eatingDalmatian cabbage, our first Delicata squash, and our first Zimbabwe squash.
  • The grains look outstanding, and this week I made a bamboo frame to hold a cover over theProso Millet, and another over the Sumire Mochi hulless barley.
  • We fertilsed and mulched the bed we are going to plant as a serious perennial vegetable and herb bed. I’m going really hard to keep this garden small and super productive. I’m only going to choose perennials that need composting and mulching once a year, and that I know I will actually eat as an importamt part of our diet! We used our fertilser mix that we have found to be best in most soils, and where there is no high quality compost available. A short term solution but a good one. 400 gms EF:Nature’s Garden per sq m, 200 gms EF:Active Calciumsq m, 500 gms EF:Activated Carbon and 500 gms EF:Paramagnetic Rock Dust, and water plants in with liquid EF:FishPlus.
  • Our first compost heaps were made of sods from the garden paths( with the grass and grass roots all in them) and thistles, as that was all we had. We are now making proper Biointensive heaps, using scythed hay, thistles, weeds, kitchen scraps and ashes and charcoal from the bath, burnt bones and animal waste, including fish waste from our river (mullet)
  • When I took my refractometer tests last week I noticed that the plants with the highest brix’s were the legumes. That makes me wonder if nitrogen is the limiting factor and so I have applied a foliar spray of EF:FishPlus to see if all the other brix’s come up.
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October Gardening


October 1 Update

We’ve had very hot days and very cold days, lots of Spring equinox winds and very calm days too, things are moving in the garden.

  • My purple sprouting broccoli is producing heads which is very exciting for me because I have never lived in an area I could grow this crop before. They do grow but a warm winter means no heads, the planst just get bigger and bigger and bigger. All parts of the plant are edible, and I love it.
  • It is also great to see the perennial runner beans ( Phaseolus coccineus)  coming up again this spring. I have not grown perennial beans in my own garden before, and I’ve definateley decided that Runner beans are one of my favourite perennial vegetables.  They prefer the spring and autumn seasons and produce green beans before annual runner beans do so that is great plus they produce shellout ad dry beans that make great salads and soup.

I tested the brix of our oats that were grown as a winter carbon crop and it was 28! The highest I have ever seen, so I’m very happy to know that the compost I make with them is being made with high brix ingredients. Our compost heaps are being made with oats, tic beans, lupins , burnt bone and shell ash, seaweed meal, wood ash, iodine, chicken manure from our chicken house, biochar, a little cow manure slurry from our cows, some garden soil and some Compost Minerals and Microbes to encourage the brix up as far as possible.

I have all the quarters of the summer garden planned out, and I’m praying for a summer this year.

My heavy feeders quarter will contain

  •  10m of tomatoes, I’ll be making loads of paste and dried tomatoes
  •  5m of paprika peppers that will double as fresh sweet capsicums and well as for drying to make paprika which we use a lot of. I’m saving seed for the Institute so can’t plant other varieties however I’ll be trading with the Institute for hot peppers  too.
  •  5m of eggplants,
  •  3m of crookneck squash
  •  7m of Delicata squash
  •  5m of Buttercup squash  
  •  5m of Chucks Winter
  •  5m of rock melons ( I love them fresh and dried)
    plus basil, tampala, magenta spreen , super nutritious summer greens and a cucumber or two

My heavy feeding carbon crops quarter will contain Blue Aztec Sweet corn, followed by Rainbow Inca sweet corn, and maybe a third planting of  Silver Platinum for variety!

My light feeding carbon quarter is planted in hulless oats, hulless barley and Tic beans.

My last quarter containing the legumes and root vege contains

  • 10m of  tall peas mostly for drying Dalmatian, Capucyjner, and fLour peas but a few Havelock sugar peas as well
  • 10m containing carrots, beetroot, scorzonera, Ohno Scarlett turnips
  • 5m of potatoes
  • 5m of yams and Jerusalem artichokes
  • 20m of beans for drying Mother In Law and Dalmatian Peans

Kumara don’t do well in double dug beds so I’m establishing a special kumara patch this year.
We are also establishing an isolation garden this spring for the Koanga Institute down on Thorny Croft, where we will grow our field corn for tortillas and the chickens, and also hulless pumpkin seeds and  a few other goodies we’ll talk about later.

I have enough of my own compost ready to apply to all of my heavy feeding crops, this spring so that is a major step forward for a new garden. Next spring I should have enough compost ready to use on all beds.

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Spring continues…


September 1 Update

Big changes in my garden in the past few weeks,

  • the over wintered carbon crops lupins, oats, flaxseed, barley and tic beans are all heading up to seed and looking strong. Once again the brix of the oats is very high and we will have a lot of high quality compost material.
  • the compost we made last autumn is ready so we are going to be able to compost all of the beds in the heavy feeders section of the garden this spring which is a great start. By this time next year we will have compost for all beds every time we plant.
  • I planted our early peas, Southland Sno, WF Massey as well as Dalmatian peas for drying, Capucyners for drying and Flour peas for drying to make tempura batter. The legume rootcrop section of the garden also has had beetroot and carrots planted as well as potatoes.
  • Our potatoes have gone in following our own advice, l have also planted some in worm farm boxes so I can compare the crops when they are grown vertically. Wechose varieties that clearly look as thought they would produce tubers up their long tops. Karoro, taranaki, Whataroa Urenika, some of the very old varieties.   Click here to read potato planting advice.
  • we have transplanted our early spring grains for the summer light feeding carbon beds, we will also harvest these grains. So far we’ve planted hulless barley and hulless oats.
  • we have loads of great greens now, my favourites are the French sorrel and the endives, which we eat daily in omelette or scrambled egg.
  • planning the heavy feeder section of the garden is always hard because this is always where our favourites go. how to keep them to ¼ of the garden area so we can maintain our crop rotation is  the challenge
  • I planted all my tomato seed, eggplant seed and pepper seed. I have to choose carefully so that I compliment the Institute seed gardens, ie we grow different varieties for seed. My tomatoes this season will be Island bay and riverside, two varieties I am super impressed with, both for eating fresh and also processing.
  • My peppers will be Yugoslav paprika , and Hungarian hot wax. Peppers cross so I am restricted because I will be saving seed. I would normally always plant sweet chocolate as well, an outstanding sweet pepper that is easy to grow.
  • My pumpkin seed is also planted delicata, henry heritage buttercup and chucks winter.
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Spring is here!


August 15

Spring is well and truly here! we are all a little scared to feel and acknowledge it after the past 8 months of rain! It is sunny and warm, chicken pumping out eggs, muscovies beginning to nest, along with the Weeder Geese, and bees humming.

Lots of preparation for Spring now, beginning to remove lupins and tic beans for compost so we can plant early Spring crops.

  • We spread our first compost heap made in this garden onto the beds that will be planted with pumpkins and heavy feeders, and we are beginning a new compost pile with our over wintering carbon crops. It will be 2 months before they are all out, and that compost heap complete. We burned our bones that have accumulated in the bone barrel over winter so we have calcium to add to the compost heap. I’ll see if we can collect seaweed for this heap as well, otherwise I’ll add seaweed meal. I’ll also continue to add our compost Minerals and Microbes into my compost for another year I think, to ensure we get our brix’s up as fast as possible.
  • I’m removing Tic beans from our asparagus bed in preparation for planting our asparagus. The little plants I grew last year are just beginning to move so it’s time.
  • I’m transplanting my last lot of brassicas into the heavy feeding section of the winter garden…after  this planting, that section of my garden will become the summer roots and legumes section  ( for more details and info on garden crop rotation see page 141 of the Koanga Garden Guide.)
  • I’m transplanting WF Massey dwarf peas and Southland Sno peas  into the legume/rootcrop section of the winter garden, the last crops that will go in that area before the rotation happens and it becomes a summer carbon crop section. I’m also transplanting beetroot seedlings and direct sowing carrot and turnip seed.
  • I’m organized now with my propagation cloche for seedling production (don’t have a green house yet in my new garden area). Basically I’m using a wooden bench built from old pallets with a plastic sheet over hoops to make a cloche.  
  • I’m doing lots of planning, so I get my summer garden how I want it. This garden provides our food year round so careful panning is essential to ensure we have the right amounts of the right crops, and varieties  for storage drying fermenting etc . This is the time get  very clear about which variety you want of everything, which potatoes, which tomatoes, which peppers, etc etc. They all have different purposes, have all been selected for different qualities and characteristics. Read our catalogue or website to ensure you get seeds that are going to match your needs as well as having been selected to do well in this land in organic conditions. That is what Koanga seed is all about. There is no other seed company in NZ doing that. All other seed companies are buying over 90% of their seed from industrial seed companies overseas.
  • I’m about to plant my heritage berry patch. I’m very excited about that because i have never lived in a place I could grow gooseberries, currants  and Worcester berries before, although raspberries and cranberries and blueberries fruit everywhere in NZ. I’m planting 20sq m of bio intensive berry beds; 2 blackcurrants, 2 red currants, 2 white currants, 2 Worcester berries, 2 Pouto blackberries, 3 Chilean cranberries, 2 yellow raspberries, 2 red raspberries, all from our heritage berry collection. Many of these berries will be available this next winter in our Koanga Fruit Tree range, available from the Koanga Institute nursery here, from Edible gardens and from Kaiwaka Organics in Kaiwaka. Our blueberries will be from a community blueberry garden, so they can all be managed together and we can get to know them. We have a large NZ heritage blueberry collection here now.
  • I have 200m of Biointensive garden  ¼ of the garden e will be heavy feeders tomatoes and basil 10m, peppers and eggplants 10m roc melons, cucumber Tampala and Magenta Spreen 10m, pumpkins 20m. ¼ of the garden  will be in roots and legumes 10m green beans, carrots and beetroot, 10m in yams, artichokes salsify and scorzonera, ¼ of the garden will be in light feeding carbon crops  hulless oats 20m, 10m hulless barley, 20m millet,
  •  ¼ garden will be in heavy feeding carbon crops  50m Rainbow Inca sweet corn (enough that we can also save the seed for the Institute)
  •   I’m making ferments with all my excess over wintered root crops. my favourite ferment is a mix of all of them, beetroot, daikon, carrot, onion or welsh bunching onions, a little garlic etc for this recipe click here
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Almost Spring


August 1 Update 2012


This past week in my garden has been about the orchard. We’ve planted our entire orchard consisting of around 20 of our favourite fruit trees plus a small berry patch. My goal is to produce quality rather than quantity although I’m sure there will very soon be far more than we can eat. With grand children next door I’m sure that won’t be a problem!


I’ve followed my own instructions, and chosen trees that will produce year round, with plenty for drying and cooking etc. All are heritage varieties which we need for the nutrition. it’s all about upping our mineral and vitamin intake along with all the other goodies  that go with heritage genetics, and a minerally balanced, microbially rich soil. More and more evidence comes through everyday to show us that our health depends upon these things.


I have planted the trees at 6m diagonal spacings, to allow for planting a range of legumes around the trees with the aim of providing not only nitrogen for the fruit trees but also fats and proteins for the chickens via their seed, and also so that i can chop and drop them  (the legumes) on a regular basis, to encourage and grow a food forest type mulch which will also encourage bugs and microbes which I turn will provide high quality feed for chickens and ducks.


I’m one of those people that is very careful to prune my fruit trees back down so that they branch very low to the ground. I like the children to be able to climb into the trees to get the fruit and I also like to be able to prune the trees from the ground and also actually pick the fruit without a ladder! many trees we buy are grown to branch 1m from the ground which in my opinion is way too high. They have been grown for tractor maintenance and I don’t use a tractor! It just takes a little courage to cut them back down low.. say 30cm above the ground…. and then they will branch low and I can manage them from there, keeping them low as they grow.


This has also felt like the new season in the vege garden too, I’m planting loads of early spring vegetables, carrots, beetroot, lettuce, broccoli, Broadbeans, peas, onions Tic beans , spring is just around the corner!!!


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In Full Swing


I didn’t have a lot of time of my garden over winter, it was basically left to itself. Although we didn’t buy vegetables all winter it has been more work to get it into the summer garden than I would have liked. We are however getting the last of the sumer things in. My heavy feeding section of the summer garden includes tomatoes, ( Riverside and Island Bay, chosen for their flavour band processing qualities)  peppers ( Yugoslav paprika)  eggplants ( Purple Florence Round), Delicata squash, Buttercup squash, Crookneck squash (my favourites) as well as Port Albert cucumbers and loads of lettuce, basil, and Lambs Quarters.
The Roots and legumes section of the garden rotation includes Mother In Law Bush beans  and bush beans for drying, carrots, beetroot Purple Pod beans to eat as green beans.

In the summer heavy feeders carbon crop section I planted Blue Aztec sweet corn, because I like the way it tastes and also the way it grows, It tends to have multi stems and lots of cobs. I’m also planting Rainbow Inca seed for my next succession  which will be two weeks after the Blue Aztec. I only tend to eat the old types of sweet corn these days, I find them far more satisfying.

Sweetcorn and hulless barley and oats make up this 1/4 of my garden, grown for the carbon content of their  stems for making high quality compost and the other 1/4 that is there to produce carbon for the compost is in Tic beans. When grown to the dry stage they produce excellent carbon as well  as an edible crop.

I have put a significant area of my perennial vege garden into White Scotch runner beans which we will eat green, as shell out beans  and as dried beans.

We have great crop of peas coming on, Southland Sno. Flour peas for drying, Capucyners for drying Dalmatiian peas for drying and Haverlock Sugar snaps for eating along with the Southland son. Our Tic beans are holding huge crops they also will become a dried crop that will be winter soup and bean staples. Our potatoes are looking good after being touched by about 3 late frosts; the yams are just peeking up and the jerusalem artichokes are looking good. I’m going to try some special chick peas, and aduki beans that were found in an ethnic auckland market by a friend earlier this year for interest and also Cherokee beans in my corn patch.

I’m planting my flower seeds now, I love the summer flowers that are the vege garden companions and somehow they always seem too go in later than the vege because I get around to them after all the vegetables go in. I’m also enjoying the cottage garden flowers right now, my old roses and our heritage poppies and cornflower and larkspur are all about to burst into bloom.