Thanks, Opa!

Don’t you love it when a plan comes together? In actuality, that may be overstating it just a smidge but we thought it a snappy opening line and, having fluked it once, we’ll definitely plan for it to come together in the future.

You see, way back in April as we racketed around the greater city  trying to find the right Rest Home fit for The Elders, we happened to pass one of Christchurch’s more prestigious garden centres. You know the sort: fancy billboards, acres of carpark, glitzy giftshop and flashy cafe. In truth, we’re not often found in such places, tending instead to raise our own seedlings or buy from local growers but, as we had a little time up our sleeve, we effected a hasty U-turn in order to check out their ‘Plant NOW for Spring’ vege seedling special.  Seemingly the ‘NOW’ of the professionally sign written billboard had in fact been several weeks ago, but nonetheless we rescued their remaining bedraggled brassica seedlings (three for one, what a deal!) and, after a reviving overnight soak in the glasshouse (which turned out to be a couple of nights because life was a little hectic), they were hastily heeled into the front garden and forgotten.

Fast forward to a fortnight ago. After months of hasty animal feeding, slap-dash house cleaning, and a whole lot of Homesteading guilt over fossil fuel usage and fast food ingestion, we suddenly found ourselves with time. Time to wander around the garden, clip the goat’s hooves, turn the compost heaps, and generally potter, putter and puddle.

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One Nettle Forest Tamed, many more to go!

Not being able to remember what hour the Perpetual Garden Clock was reading when it all ground to a halt, we decided to split the difference with The Goat Herd taking the front garden (Twelve) and The Milk Maid the back. Oh! What piercing shrieks carried to where The Milk Maid stood contemplating the best starting point in the nettle forest of a back garden. With boots a’clomping, she galloped down the drive with visions of rats nests, wasp swarm, or arterial bleeding at the very least but it was not bad tidings that brought the tear to the generally staunch and no-nonsense Goat Herd’s eye.


No, instead it was the sight of so many fledgling broccoli, cauliflower and cabbages hiding amongst yet more nettles , all white butterfly free and harvest ready, that had her reaching for her hanky. 


We’re not the sort of folk to bend a deity’s ear, but that night as we sat down to Chicken and Vegetable Stir-fry featuring a Princess Nikita crowster and our very own cabbage and broccoli, we thought it only right to send our thank to our personal gardener in the sky…

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for keeping it ticking over while we were otherwise engaged. 

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13 thoughts on “Thanks, Opa!

  1. Lovely surprise. Nature’s like that, fortunately for those of whose lives get too full occasionally. Do you suppose the nettles were responsible for keeping the white fly at bay? You could be onto something…do goats like nettles? MMM…cauliflower cheese. I’ve taken to adding chopped cauli to home made macaroni cheese (derived from Jamie), also very nice. Have you ever read John Seymour? He used to do all sorts of planting out, and then disappear for weeks at a time in the summer only to discover his garden buried in weeds and brambles – but he too always found bounty beneath it all.

    • Nettles are meant to be a wonder plant so maybe that’s what kept the bugs at bay or maybe it was just that it is still very early in the season. Either way, I have little to no chance of ever eradicating them so I will now firmly believe they are the perfect companion plant.
      Oh, macaroni cauliflower cheese…now you’re talking! Good old Jamie; FG continues her adoration of him and some of his ideas have been firmly adopted onto the Homestead menu.
      John Seymour is not one I have come across but we are definitely similar when it comes to gardening 🙂

      • You’ll have to give John Seymour a read – he’s most famous for his “Guide to Self-sufficiency” but you’re way past finding that book remotely useful. Instead I recommend “The Fat of the Land”which is the telling of his families early years on a smallholding. It’s hard to get hold of nowadays – most libraries don’t have it anymore. Your library does have “Self-sufficiency” though, so have a boo when you get time, haha – I’m just heading into reading season, you’re just coming out of it 🙂

  2. My thoughts were tending the same way as Sailorssmallfarm and thought that nettles as companion planting was the way forward! We have never had any luck with brassicas – perhaps we have cosseted them too much?
    What a wonderful, happy surprise!

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