Lolo Houbein

I think One Magic Square by Lolo Houbein will turn out to be my book of 2011. This interview gives an indication of Houbein's strength and wonderfulness. For me, this book is the best since Linda Woodrow's Permaculture Home Garden, and in practical terms, a better book to start with than Woodrow's.

Germs of diverse persuasions have punctured our days and nights, especially the nights, here. The wide shallow red bucket, with handles to grip with, is the best vomit bucket we've ever owned. The large amount of money we spent on replacing the washing machine in January has been worth it already, given that I can no longer easily recall back to a day when no one's bed linen needed hot washing. I haven't escaped the germs, but I have appreciated Favourite Handyman being home, enabling me to stay in bed sleeping and then resting and reading for two days. This TED/Hans Rosling talk on the transformative power of the washing machine is a wonderful one, and a message particularly resonant this week.

I've been poring over One Magic Square and planning our winter, spring and next summer gardens from my bed. I read Jenny Pattrick's Heart of Coal as well yesterday, a rollicking holiday read set two hours up the road, and profiled in this clip of Denniston. Apparently the new tourist-oriented restoration of Denniston opens next month and I'm keen to see it.

Photos from the garden today below:
Firstly, the strawberry patch, resplendant with autumnal leaves and seeding dandelion. There are a few white strawberries there, but I doubt they will make it to red in this cooler weather. I plan on removing the bird netting for winter, digging these strawberry plants up and putting them in the old chook run garden for winter. If we get the plastic house (indeed, Favourite Handyman and I are in serious, constructive talks about the placement and design of a plastic house - home made of course given the eye watering costs of a readymade one) up in time, they will go in there in spring. Then, I am going to weed what is left and begin my super spud experiment. We don't have enough cultivated space to grow as many spuds as we would like. Nor do we have the time to dig more garden and maintain it. So the solution has to be the same as for garlic: grow bigger and grow better in the same amount of space. The gardening books sometimes suggest a comfrey leaf underneath each spud as it is planted, so I'm starting by layering the comfrey from the front garden over the remaining soil. Then some wood ash. Then some compost which I'm hoping is ready at the bottom of the compost bin. Then more comfrey and more wood ash and then pea straw. More wood ash can go on through winter. By late spring, when it is time to plant the spuds, I hope to have beautiful soil full of the best spud growing ingredients and then it is up to me to heap the pea straw up round the growing plants, something I have often forgotten to do.

I love our neighbour's mamaku trees. On our side of the fence, the canna lillies are lost against the red fence and I'm thinking of moving them out to the front of the section. I figure that they are hardy to our climate, judging by how many are in surrounding gardens, multiply easily on their own and hopefully should thus hold their ground against surrounding weeds in the very front garden and will transplant well, based on the last time I split and moved some. I would like to get some yellow canna lillies for this spot. I'm thinking of yellow everything for this garden actually. Favourite Handyman made a start today by planting our potted kowhai alongside the red fence, though I don't have photos yet.

In the old chook run garden, phaecelia is in flower, now offering support to the borage and alyssum in the important job of attracting beneficial insects and bees to the garden. What looks to be a small tree behind it is actually kale. Lolo Houbein says you can feed the world on Siberian Kale and while I'm not sure which variety exactly she is referring to, I do agree based on what I've seen. I grew Red Russian Kale from Koanga a few years ago and it was enormous, even bigger than the curly kale in this photograph. I didn't grow it again though as it didn't taste nearly as nice as the other varieties we grew.

Rather annoyed today by swollen glands despite two days in bed, I took two lypo-spheric vitamin C sachets, on two separate occasions, to see if they would work better or faster than vitamin C (sodium ascorbate) powder. Although the lypo-spheric sachets taste truly vile, they are faster to take than faffing round with powder and juice. I think they have helped today, though at $1.50 per sachet, I'll be back on powder tonight (my body is improving, but still needs help).


Anonymous said…
Intrigued to see you so enthusiastic about One mAgic Square. I was disapoointed with it -felt it was a fancy way of saying "plant these veges for a salad or these ones for a curry" and I already knew that. I thought it was going to be a super intensive way to get more out of a plot, but it wasn't. Jim Jeavons' How To Grow More Vegetables Than You Ever Thought Possible on Less Land Than You Can Imagine is my alltime fave.
Nikki said…
Hope you're feeling better too Sandra! I was surprised how sore my glands were after my viral thing (no vomits though). Urgh!

I haven't read that book, but have read Jeavons' and really like his ideas too.
body lift said…
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Sandra said…
Thank you Body Lift for all of your kind comments. Rachael and Nikki - about to attempt another related post.

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