Gardening Newbie, Volunteers!

Today was day one. First time volunteering at the Waitaki Community Gardens and first time gardening. Well… first time gardening this century, pretty much. And I’m feeling it – in a really good way.

I rocked up albeit a bit late and met Ra – the Volunteer and Site Organiser and Colin – a fellow volunteer, already getting stuck in. Friendly greetings kicked us off and then Ra gently suggested we work and talk – good idea (after all that’s why I was there).

So the first job was turning over a garden bed where pretty much everything growing was spent. I wouldn’t have known that had she not told me. I really am that much of a novice! Still, gardening fork in hand  – as it turns out, Ra’s weapon of choice and a jolly good one, we got to turning earth and chatting.

As it also turns out, Couch grass is the enemy. It’s actually pronounced Cooch, like Wal’s neighbour in Footrot Flats and it’s a naughty grass with really long roots that try to take over everything.

Ra’s patience is pretty awesome. I’d overlooked that Couch completely until she told me about it and showed me what to be looking for. She joked that it kinda gets angry being half pulled out and grows back even stronger. I believe her. She seems to know her stuff.

Anyways, this first day I learned some things.

Ra with AMAZING compost and advice – “fill a barrow from one side then the other so you don’t wind up lopsided”.

I learned that good compost is a six month labour of love. I learned that some garden bugs are bad (and should be immediately crushed). I learned that in the normal order of things, the seasons produce layers of stuff, like leaves, that naturally work their way into the soil.

I learned that when filling wheelbarrows, it’s a good idea to work left handed and right handed to even the work on the body (thanks Ra!). I learned that there’s a cool tool called a push hoe (thanks Colin) that can save hours of digging down the track because it pushes the weeds off their roots before they have a chance to dig in.

Yep, after a mere two hours of volunteering, I think I know what I’m talking about… time will tell…

Colin with his incredible push hoe, getting early rid of pesky weeds that won’t be welcome later when they’re even bigger.
Bottom line; I took home a happy body that did something more than sit at a computer all day… a productive something… a community something.

Colin, Ra and I agreed that working and talking is better. I don’t know when I last asked so many questions or had them so well received and answered so happily! We started talking about compost (and that six-month magic brew) and Ra said, we might turn over some at next Wednesday’s Working Bee. Can’t wait to find out how the magic works.

I think I might learn to like gardening. I’m certainly enjoying the freshly picked, yummy apples Ra gave me as a thanks. I’ll sleep well tonight with a couple of gardening hours under my belt. And I feel like I made a contribution – novice gardener and all.


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