Growing vegetables or fruit in your own backyard has made
a comeback. Rosie Manins learns how it's done.
David Jaquiery has many mouths to feed, so it is a good thing
he loves to grow vegetables.
The 81-year-old keeps five families supplied with a variety
of fresh produce year-round from a patch he has established
on a relative's Highcliff Rd section.
Crops are planted in their hundreds over about 800sq m of
gently sloping land, which Mr Jaquiery discovered was a
former rubbish tip.
He started developing the section in 2008, having admired the
lush grass growing there.
But it has taken years to dig out rubble which was piled on
the site by contractors re-kerbing, channelling and sealing
''They bulldozed over it and spread a thin layer of soil over
the top. Even now I still uncover things.''
The nutrient-deficient soil has since been built up with
copious amounts of stable manure and compost.
Mr Jaquiery initially sourced sterilised sheep manure from
Balclutha and switched to horse manure only when the supply
''I make all my own compost and all of my garden gets huge
amounts of it and quite a lot of stable manure. I do the
compost on quite a large scale - I have seven bins - and I
don't have the time or energy to turn it the way you should,
so I carefully layer green waste and stable manure, which
works pretty well.''
A tiny amount of artificial fertiliser helps Mr Jaquiery's
seedlings, of which he establishes up to 1500 each year.
''I can never grow anything like enough, only about a third
get planted and I buy the rest.''
In the glasshouse with seedlings are berry toms and sweet 100
tomatoes, capsicums, chilli and courgettes.
Mr Jaquiery also has tomatoes and courgettes planted outside
in sheltered spots, as well as corn, black, red and white
currants, gooseberries, blueberries, passionfruit and
About 200 leeks are planted - double last year's crop - and
there is a thriving patch of artichokes.
Up to 100 red onions, hundreds of spring onions and plenty of
garlic are in the ground, as well as lettuce, silverbeet and
A large brassica patch comprises eight rows, each containing
about 36 cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and Brussels sprout
Grown in between are radishes and pak choi.
Mr Jaquiery has constructed a large timber and netting cover
over the entire plot, to keep out his arch enemy, the white
''They are the worst - my biggest nemesis.
About 50 strawberries are planted next to a mass of runner
beans and a pumpkin patch filled with ''little oranges''.
Carrots are one of Mr Jaquiery's staple crops and he first
plants a row of Chantenay, followed by the main crop of
Manchester and a third sowing of white-tops.
He is most proud of his potatoes, and plants early Swifts
followed by Purple Passion and his main crop of Desiree - in
total about 500 plants.
Frost is not a problem on the Shiel Hill section, where
potatoes are affected only by too much or too little
moisture, and Mr Jaquiery always has new potatoes for
Christmas and Easter.
He also grows yams, beetroot, white stone turnips, swede
turnips, parsnips, peas, horseradish, rhubarb, mint and
masses of broad beans.
''I would say I'm lucky. I love it out here, it's just like
being in the country.
''The gardening keeps me fitter and healthier than I was 10
• Desiree is a good all-round potato, mature
after four months.
• Cut silverbeet leaves off plants ready to seed,
so they produce more.
• Use netting instead of sprays to counter white
• Layer green waste and horse manure to make
• Bury carrots, swedes and parsnips in sand to
make them last longer. ''Before they start their second
growth at the end of winter, dig them out, cut most of the
top off, don't wash the soil off and put them in sand. Unless
you freeze them, it's the only way to keep them.''