Seeds of change and a Bellini or two

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Virgil Evetts

Spring is my favourite time of year. Sure it rains enough to rattle Noah, but for a little while the world is so green and full of potential.  I’m such an anticipation sort person – finding more pleasure in the unwrapping than the prize.  Which is a good thing, because spring is like a particularly mean-spirited game of pass the parcel food-wise i.e. just a whole lot of pretty paper with no rewards!


In my vegetable garden (actually I have two, which allows for crop rotation), the only thing ready for picking just now is silver beet – and very nice it is too, either torn-up and thrown into a curry at the last minute, sautéed with garlic and chilli in olive oil, or very simply steamed. It’s a good workhorse veggie and I’d never be without it, but it’s not exactly exciting.

The warm flavours, energy and abundance of summer produce are still a long way off.  But that’s ok.  Half the fun of spring comes from fantasising about the literal fruits of your labours, from watching the steady growth of seedlings in to stout young plants.  This make for particularly compulsive viewing when you grow from seed.

I never used to bother with seeds, preferring the quicker results of shop-bought seedlings.  The down-side to such impatience is price – seedlings do not offer good value for money, and what’s more, the range available grows smaller and duller each year. For example, I’ve found climbing bean and pea seedlings frustratingly difficult to come by in recent years.  Dwarf versions abound and are now the norm in city garden centres.  They’re fine, and probably the most practical option for the average sub-divided section, but they lack the yields and variety of their taller kin.


So this year, having exhaustively poured over various seed catalogues, I’m growing everything from seed.

I have rows of black cherry tomatoes (a wonderfully sweet and flavoursome variety I trialled last year and fell in love with), piquillo peppers (the definitive  Spanish pepper bar none), butter beans, sugar snap peas, pumpkins, rock melons (which I’ve never had much luck with before, but we’ll see), zucchini, Lebanese cucumbers, basil, coriander and bulls-blood beetroot.  All of these have zealously burst forth from their beds of chicken manure-fortified volcanic soil, and are surging upwards and outwards almost visibly before my eyes.


Apart from providing an abundance of lovely manure-laden straw, my chooks (Becky, Sophie and Ophelia) are also in full egg production right now, which at 3 a day is more than enough to keep us well-stocked and satisfied, with enough left over to charm the neighbours.


My favourite lazy meal of the moment, which makes good use of their daily tribute, is bacon sandwiches – made with crispy free-range bacon, just-cooked scrambled eggs, loads of slowly sautéed red capsicum, a generous splatter of Tabasco sauce, and lightly toasted white bread. I know – white bread, gasp!  Yes it’s over-processed, its pappy, it’s evil, I know; but when it comes to bacon, egg and pepper sandwiches, nothing else will do.


On the home-orchard front my early white peach has once again delivered a heavy crop of gorgeously blushing, obscenely juicy wee fruit. Bellini’s! Bellini’s for everyone!


As the season progresses I plan on hijacking the blog every so often to update you on the happenings in my ‘all-from-seed’ veggie patch, and perhaps share a recipe or two as things plump up and ripen.  Hopefully ya’ll feel compelled to do likewise.

So- how does your garden grow?

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6 thoughts on “Seeds of change and a Bellini or two

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  2. I am also now the proud owner of two veggie patches – my husband built me a new one outside the office door so that it’s harder to neglect. The original one is still in full swing, albeit with many weeds.

    My red cabbages, planted late last summer, seem to forming heads now. Globe artichokes are in full flower and my July-planted garlic is looking really good. The silverbeet and celery in my old veggie patch have all gone to seed, and there are a few self-seeded baby leeks and onions.

    In the new veggie patch, the mesclun lettuce mix is doing well enough for me to fill a big bag each week (saves me $4 a week for what was a $3 packet of seeds). The snow peas – joy of joy – have started flowering, as has the borlotti fire tongue beans. And so have the watermelon radishes – oops (they are all top and no bottom). Must rip them out and start again. Got Easter Egg radishes coming out of my ears – the boys have asked me not to keep putting them in their lunchboxes.

    Strawberries are starting to fruit – will have to protect them from the birds and the kids.

    This year I’m growing watermelon through black weed mat in a sheltered spot – I found that worked for rock melon two years ago. And in the same spot, I’m growing pickling cucumbers, kiwano (a yellow, spiky fruit – a bit like a punk-rocker cucumber), and jalapenos. I’ve planted a natural windbreak around the edge of the weedmat – sweetcorn at the edge and skyscraper sunflowers at each end. Will be interesting to see how it works (must take photos).

    Not to mention the 2000 hot and sweet pepper plants that desperately need transplanting in the tunnel house right now… will be a busy bee over the next few weeks!


  3. Stephanie it’s not too late to getyour summer vegetables in. It’s been such a cold spring that plants like tomatoes are really only just getting into good growth now. Get thee to the garden centre!

  4. My garden is very sad. I was late getting things in except for 1 tomato that I planted 6 weeks ago. Lack of sun meant it is sulking and everything else has gone out in sympathy.

  5. The peach is a variety called Orion, its from Koanga Gardens ( ).
    Because it ripens so early, it’s not super sweet but is very fragrant and just perfect in Bellini’s. A big advantage of the early fruiting time is that it misses the typical humidity of Jan/Feb which causes brown rot in many stone fruit. Provided you have the right variety for your region peaches are very easy to look after. Koanga can always advise on this and they have great range of peaches, plums, apples and even apricots that work well in Auckland.

  6. My garden is giving us loads of produce with vast quantities of broad beans, lovely sweet carrots and peas that are just about ready. My broccoli are about the size of motorbike helmets and taste great – I know that they are all year round but I felt the need to promote them!
    I am completely envious of your Bellini peaches. How old is your tree and does it need any particular love and care? I really think I need to go and buy one as I love peaches and to think you are getting fruit this early is amazing.