Saturday, February 28, 2009

Open Home Discussion - March

Maximising Food Production

Visit Diana Kirpensteijn’s garden in Opawa to learn how to get maximum food production for minimum effort. Diana’s ‘multi-purpose’ garden has been carefully designed to ensure year-round productivity. A variety of different fruit and nut trees, as well as large vegetable gardens, supply the kitchen with seasonal produce. Eggs and honey are also often on the menu, thanks to Diana’s hens and bees.

If you’re keen to learn more about organic food production, and would like to meet other Soil and Health members, make sure you come along to our March talk.

When: 2.00pm on Sunday 22 March
Where: 5 Ombersley Tce, Opawa
Cost: Members free, Non-members $2.00

For more information email:

Thursday, February 19, 2009

We Need Your Trees

Recent fires have damaged much of the native plantings on Southshore Spit. The Southshore Residents Association and the City Council’s Coast Care Rangers need your help to continue the ecological restoration of the Southshore Spit Reseve.

Interested people are invited by the residents association to contribute ‘self propagated’ seedlings of local native species which may be self seeding and growing ‘wild’ in their gardens, often beneath power lines and tall trees etc.

Plants may be potted up and transferred to a nursery area at Tim Sintes property in Tern St, where they will be watered and cared for, or they can be potted up and cared for at peoples homes and brought along to a community planting day planned for the autumn. Empty pots can be supplied by the council by contacting Pete Neal on 3884706

The plant species sought are N.Z. coastal natives (capable of surviving in this tough environment) such as N.Z. Ngaio, Coprosma, Broadleaf, Five finger, Kowhai, Karaka, Akeake, and Cabbage tree, etc.

Please ring project co-ordinator Peter Neal on 388 4706 for more information or e-mail him on

Rodney Chambers
Coastal Area Head Ranger
Christchurch City Council

Peter Neal

Friday, February 13, 2009

Southshore Self-Sufficiency

You wouldn’t expect to find an edible garden paradise at the end of Southshore Spit, but that is exactly what Pete and Marion Neal have created, albeit with some help from willing neighbours. “At the moment five neighbours give us all their garden waste and kitchen scraps, unfortunately one is leaving, so hopefully we will be able to train up somebody new,” says Pete. Pete has even modified his fence to make it easier for neighbours to deposit their waste into his compost bins.

Compost Secret to Success
Each year Pete and Marion produce about 1.5 cubic metres of compost; after living on their property for 38 years they have managed to build the soil up 30cms in places. ‘We’ve never brought in any top soil, when you do that you end up with other people’s problems,’ says Pete. Apart from compost, the only other fertilisers they are use are sheep manure, blood and bone, and lime. Looking at the rich layer of organic matter its hard to believe that a couple of spade widths down its pure sand.

Two Bin System
To make their compost the couple use a two bin system, each bin measuring approximately 1 metre x 1.5 metres. When the first bin reaches capacity, the contents are turned over into a second bin. If the compost appears dry, water is added during the turning process. “You need enough water to keep the process going, but not so much that you put out the fire,” says Pete. After turning, the compost is covered with an insulating lid, which helps to keep the compost hot and prevents the rain from getting in. Pete uses a piece of metal coated polystyrene as a lid, but you could use two pieces of 6mm plywood separated by a 20mm gap.

Food in Abundance
Marion and Pete grow more vegetables than they need, which means they always have surplus to give away. ‘The neighbours give us their garden waste, and we give them vegetables,’ says Marion. The couple grow enough potatoes, pumpkins and onions to last them the whole year. A small orchard also supplies them with peaches, pears and apples.

Although Pete is quick to point out that he isn’t a ‘greenie’ because he doesn’t ‘have a beard or wear jandals,’ the couple’s self-sufficient lifestyle tells a very different story.
Posted by Charlotte McHaffie