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10 Waiheke Weekender
Well my holiday already seems like
a dream, as two weeks have already
slipped swiftly by since our return.
I do love Rarotonga, and especial-
ly the Little Polynesian where we
always stay, as there is nothing but
relaxing to be done, and of course
a fair amount of overindulgence.
This year's visit was especially
interesting for me, noticing the
difference between our small island
and Rarotonga and observing how
they garden in the tropics.
The frst thing that you notice is
the colour of their soil and how rich it is. Thanks to the mountains
and their high rainfall, the rich, volcanic minerals run down to
the coast, carrying the nutrients from the mountains. These have
remained undeveloped so all the goodness from their natural
vegetation is going back into the land.
In more developed countries, we are constantly building and
stripping away good soil and revealing the clay sub-soil. Clay is
hard to work with, so we have to compensate by over adding prod-
uct to our soil in order to grow our plants. This was particularly
interesting as in the garden centre, we are recommending that you
add Rok Solid to your garden and vegetable plots as it is packed
with all the minerals already naturally present in Rarotonga's soil.
This will help grow tastier, more nutritious vegetables and fruit
trees and stronger ornamental shrubs.
I also hadn't realised that there are several varieties of taro, each
needing different situations to grow. Islanders use the taro leaves
as we would spinach or silver beet. One thing I was particularly
fascinated with was how they get around weed problems in the islands.
They don't use weed mats over there, instead making use of fronds that
have fallen from the coconut palms.
The supermarket is the main place islanders get their vegetable seed-
lings. They are sold in just the same way as we sell ours, in six-pack
punnets, and I was impressed at the range they were growing and how
similar it was to what we have available here. One of the key growing
differences is of course temperature, with their warmer growing condi-
tions I was impressed at the stage the tomatoes were at. By mid-October
they will be harvesting their tomatoes while ours will hardly be in the
The size and range of Rarotonga's tropical plants also had me speech-
less. Plant growth and fowering seemed double what we would get here.
I sat one day looking at the gardenias outside my room. They were over
two metres tall and so completely smothered in fowers
that you could hardly see any foliage.
From a planning point of view, I do so love the
way that they don't really do garden beds like us, but
just shove plants here and there, somehow the riotous
disorder of colour foliage and fowers look incredible.
Especially as a backdrop for a chilled fruit cocktail... roll
on next winter.
Rok Solid: The goodness of a tropical
volcano for your garden.
In the garden with Geoff
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Observations from a tropical island
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