The Kitchen Garden

The earliest written record of growing food in Glenside (the Halfway) was in December 1842. Suzannah Wall, who lived in the first Halfway House, wrote to her sister describing buying vegetables from the natives and her garden of potatoes, cabbage and peas.  She wrote that she hoped to grow wheat for bread. 

Fast forward forty years plus to 1885 when the existing Halfway House was built. In that year, Michael Murphy, Secretary of the Canterbury Agricultural and Pastoral Association and editor of The New Zealand Country Journal (1877-1898), published the Handbook of Gardening for New Zealand, which he described as “a comprehensive manual of gardening” suitable for New Zealand requirements.

He said the “premier position in the arrangement of the matter was allotted to the Vegetable garden.” He lamented that vegetable growing was neglected by the large majority of small farmers. “Cheap bread and cheap meat with an abundance of potatoes, seem to satisfy most of the engaged in rural pursuits,” he wrote in the preface to the first edition.

To this end, he hoped the publication of his handbook would be a better diet, conducive to good health, particularly in the case of children.

The first edition quickly sold out and resulted in a second edition, published in 1888. In all, there were four editions, the final published in 1907. We have used his writing from the second edition, to accompany the list of vegetables we have planted at the Halfway House.

Artichoke (Jerusalem)

“Plant in August or September, in rows three feet apart, and six inches deep, and two feet apart in the rows. They thrive best in a rich pliable loam. An abundance of manure should be dug in in May, in order that it may be well incorporated with the soil at the time of planting. The after culture consists of frequent hoeings and thinning the stems produced by each set to two or three at the most. In May the tubers will be ripe, and may be dug and pitted as potatoes, or they may be left in the ground and used as required. They must not however remain longer in the soil than the beginning of the following September.” (Murphy, 1888, p. 26).

Gifter: Patricia Apperly.
First planted: 2019.

Kamokamo aka cucurbita

Kamokamo, Cucurbita

There are a range of varieties of kamokamo. This variety was grown from seeds passed to Harley by his father at Ruatoria, who received them from his father.

Gifter: Harley Thompson
First planted: 2019.

kumara tatupini

Kumara Taputini

The taputini variety of kumara are believed to be one of four remaining varieties that were in New Zealand prior to the arrival of European varieties. The others are hutihuti, rekamaroa and houhere.

Gifter: Tony Tomlin.
First planted: 2018.

Parsnip Geurnsey

“Hollow Crown and Student are the best in cultivation. The soil cannot be too deep and rich for this crop. The manure should be applied the previous Autumn, if manured at the time of sowing the roots will be rusted. Sow in August and September, in drills fifteen inches apart, and half-an-inch deep. When the seedlings are two or three inches high thin to nine inches apart, and keep the hoe constantly going to destroy young weeds. The crop may with advantage be left in the ground till the end of July and taken up as required during the Winter. One ounce will sow 100 feet.” (Murphy, 1888, p. 38).

Our parsnips were sourced from seed growing wild on a roadside near Ongaonga. The adjacent landholder, a woman, had sold the farm to two bachelors, who had on-sold in 1890. In the book Lunesdale, A Bush Farm Community from 1871, Edward Bibby writes “These bachelors had laid down a portion of her garden for parsnips with the intension of making parsnip wine. The parsnip wine may not have been a success but certainly the parsnips themselves were. They grew wild on the roadsides” (Bibby & Bibby, 1990, p.16).

Gifter: Claire Bibby.
First planted: 2018.

Potatoes 

Henry Flat

From Southland Henry Harrington collection. Sourced Koanga

Gifter: Andre Stanton.
First planted: 2020. 

Maori/Roke Roke/Waikato

Early cropper, short season. A very round and large potato, with no inset eyes. It has white flesh and a bright purple skin, is an early potato and is an excellent one for baking in the jacket (it comes out nice and fluffy). Or, if you have to have a potato for mashing and you only grow old potatoes like us, then this one can be peeled, or cooked with the skin on when new, and it mashes really well. It is not good for boiling, chipping, sautéing, etc., because it falls apart. It has been sent to us from all around NZ, with various names and it’s clear it used to be very common. Also sent to us by Bill Blane of Ngati Porou, an early, small, sweet, prolific producer that does not need new ground. Good boiled!

Gifter: Andre Stanton.
First planted: 2020. 

Old Blue (from Southland)

Smallish blocky oval bright purple skinned even colour with white flesh containing a deep purple mandala when cut in half, stunning looking, floury, best baked. Crops heavier each season.

Gifter: Andre Stanton.
First planted: 2020. 

Ruby Gem

On their website, Koanga describe it as: “Red all through when the potatoes are young and is stunning looking as well as a stunner to grow. The tops grow like a tree with a very strong trunk and the potatoes travel further than others.”

Gifter: Andre Stanton.
First planted: 2020. 

potato urenika

Urenika

A purple skin and purple fleshed potato, a variety traditionally grown by Maori people in New Zealand.

Gifter: Tony Tomlin.
First planted: 2018. 

Gifter: Andre Stanton.
First planted: 2020. 

Gifter: Andre Stanton, planted: 2020. 

Yellow Fir aka La Ratte, Lady Finger

Koanga describe it as follows: Early cropper, short season. Yellow skin, outstanding long smooth skinned buttery potatoes. Produces all its potatoes right beside the stem in one pile. Makes excellent potato salad. Came here with our Irish ancestors! Part of the Henry Harrington collection.

Gifter: Andre Stanton.
First planted: 2020. 

Rhubarb

[unknown variety]

“Wyatts Victoria, Royal Albert, and Mitchell’s Early Albert are good early and late varieties. Rhubarb thrives on deep, strong, moist soil, heavily manured” (Murphy, 1888, p. 39).

Our variety, whose name has been lost in the mists of time, was originally grown in the Glen Appin farm garden of Edward Stuart Bibby (1896-1991), near Ongaonga.

Gifter: Rachel Hornblow.
First planted: 2018.

Victoria

Heirloom variety. Available in garden centres. Named in honour of Queen Victoria in 1837. Has bright red stems.

Gifter: Claire Bibby.
First planted: 2020.