Jane’s Garden

Sustainable growing is in Jane’s heart. She is the President of the South Wairarapa Biodiversity Group and also runs Predator Free Martinborough. Jane certainly practices what she preaches!

If you are interested in how an urban section (2400m2) can be turned into a utopia of healthy fruit and vegetables, you will learn so much visiting Jane’s garden. Principles like crop rotation, double digging, mulching and composting all contribute to growing an abundance of kai that sustains Jane’s family and friends all year round.

41B Weld St

Bus Wheelchair accessible
The journey has not been easy, from the trials of curtailing pesky twitch grass, wind, drought, clay pans, stones – well rocks really. The garden planning started in 2013 with an initial plan for the landscaping around the house designed by Hamish Moorhead and constructed by Infinite Landscapes. The productive garden design began soon after this.

It was in 2018 when Jane visited Koanga Institute near Wairoa that she was inspired to improve the soil health of her productive gardens and aspire to produce food from her māra all year round. The techniques Jane learned at Koanga were quickly put to use – double digging, seed saving and layering compost in unique circular beds using wooden stakes and baling twine. Jane’s compost includes the usual weeds and food scraps but also includes paper, cardboard, biochar and is truly a regenerative process. No carbon rich paper or cardboard leaves the property. It is all composted – even shiny paper which makes a great shelter for worms when the compost is a bit dry. Once the stacks are full, they are covered with thick black plastic that cooks the mix to a beautiful rich aerated compost. This combined with a planting schedule and TLC from Jane and Victor provides the foundation for the productive garden.

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The healthy compost is then generously piled onto pre-prepared garden beds with a four-way crop rotation based on the feeding requirements of the plants. It is layered again with straw and manure to limit weeds and protect the worms, beetles, and other bugs that contribute to the aeration and soil health. Although early in the growing season, you’ll be able to see beds in various stages of their rotation cycles on tour weekend.

Clever companion planting of deep-rooted lucerne naturally breaks up the clay pan and contributes nutrients such as nitrogen to feed the fruit trees. Lucerne is a prolific flowerer and brings much needed bees into the garden to pollinate the fruit and vegetables. As a legume, it is filled with carbohydrates and proteins, that when cut, is a valuable contributor to the composting system. The lucerne is also a good habitat for insects and is a perennial. This is the kind of knowledge you’ll get when you visit Jane’s garden.

25 varieties of tomatoes – many of these heritage – are grown in the garden providing the base for so much of the kai produced in Jane’s kitchen. However, growing enough onions and carrots for a full 12 month rotation has eluded Jane so far.

Jane and Victor are passionate about conservation and strong supporters of the Pūkaha National Wildlife Centre and have created a native sanctuary of a flax “mountain” often visited by tuis, bellbirds and other native species. There are also Coprosmas, Muehlenbeckia, Kowhai and native grasses. Piles of stones and wood provide habitat for skinks. Jane estimates about half the natives have been grown by her from locally sourced seed and the rest have come from Norfolk Road Nursery including a Wairarapa Corokia cotoneaster, and the sturdy slow growing tree Coprosma wallii.

There is plenty of tank water available for the garden, and in summer drought is mitigated by heavy mulching, so that less watering is required.

Jane propagates many of her own seedlings in her hot house, where kumara, peppers and eggplant are grown. Jane also has a shade house and enjoys growing endangered species to contribute to the regeneration of natives in the Wairarapa.

Jane is the gardener, with Victor creating the infrastructure, windbreaks and berry enclosure.

With food sovereignty and the cost of healthy fruit and vegetables driving more people to create their own productive gardens, there is so much to learn in this garden.