Let’s cook: NZ Lockdown countdown – reviving Nanas best tips.

We here in NZ are on the brink of lock down due to COVID 19. Lockdown will occur midnight tomorrow Wednesday 25th March 2020. We are following in the footsteps of many countries also suffering under the weight of the pandemic. We are also on the brink of entering winter and judging by the rest of the countries experiences, could be a long one..

COVID 19 is a dick.

So, to keep sane I will be publishing everyday some tips and tricks to make the best of the time in isolation with your nearest and dearest.

#1 Try real hard not to kill each other…. just chill.

This following may sound impossible given the current availability of resources and that we are entering lockdown tomorrow – but let me explain….

Get outside and plant a vegetable garden: lettuces, carrots, cauliflower, onions, leeks, kale, spinach, silverbeet, beetroot, swedes, turnips, kohlrabi, cabbages, broccoli, brussel sprouts – All the winter vege you can scrummage in these sparse times.

Plant in patio pots, or in the ground.

I know, I know – the garden centres are empty, and the ones who aren’t have tripled their prices like the greedy opportunistic scumbags they are…….So that’s when you have to get your creative hat on.

Did you know: a lot of store brought vegetables can be regrown from from scraps?

Root vegetables – cut the tops off and take them to the garden and push them into the soil, they will sprout again, they will root again.

Fancy Lettuces, hearting lettuces, bok choi, leeks, anything with the base intact – with or without roots… will grow again. Cut the base off (about 2 inches long) if it has roots shove it in the soil as is. If it doesn’t, no problem put it on the window sill in a glass of water, change the water daily and it will soon shoot out new roots, then into the soil it goes. They will grow very quickly and then you can just cut off what you need when you need it. If you want to harvest the whole plant don’t pull it out by the roots just cut it at the base with a little still sticking out of the ground and let the cycle repeat again and again.

Spuds/potatoes, kumara/sweet potato, etc are the easiest, they will grow from peelings, chopped ends, or if you have some old slightly rubbery eye popping ones, perfect – throw them in the dirt and pile up the dirt as the plant starts to get leggy. This will ensure that plenty of tubers have the space and opportunity to form.

I just have an old 2 tyre tower system that I throw potato scraps in, all varieties of spuds, kumara, anything tuber and edible. I just cover them with dirt and forget about them. I just did a small harvest yesterday from the spring planting I forgot I had done and was surprised to find such lovely little array of spuddies ready to cook.

Some dried legumes, microgreen or sprouting seeds dependent if they are season friendly – give them a go!

Dried fenugreek seeds, dried chickpeas – yes, do it! You don’t need a Garden Centre to have a great garden and best of all it will be grown from things you actually eat.

It will take time with this method, but reality is we will be in lockdown who hasn’t got time right now. Get back to basics, and enjoy the process.

For those more adventurous- There are also wild weeds and native plants that are great to eat, Nasturtium leaves and flowers, kawakawa leaves and fruit (if you can beat the birds to them, don’t eat too many of the fruit – do your homework first). puha aka dandelion weed, watercress, native fuschia, but I have to stress do your homework before you go foraging there are some toxic things lurking in our gardens masquerading as harmless. It would be the worst time to eat the wrong thing.

If you are lucky enough to get hold of heritage seeds, make sure you let your plants go to seed and then collect the seeds for the next season, they will keep well just let them dry out before you store them. There are some very handy heritage seeds that just keep coming back every year, like perpetual spinach and scarlet runner beans. Do you homework and you will have a never ending supply – season dependant.

Don’t even bother collecting seeds from hybrids, they produce well once, and never again. They are engineered that way to keep you coming back to the supplier to buy more every year. Avoid them, pay a little extra for heritage seeds and you won’t be disappointed. You can still find seeds online from good suppliers and they are operating online during lockdown, although they are most probably inundated with orders as everyone will be trying to get some. Alternatively you can also get seeds via trademe and seedlings as well in the post.

But if you not in a great hurry and have shop brought vegetables that can be regrown, before you throw the scraps in the bin – throw them in the garden instead. You have nothing to lose. It will be faster than starting from seed.

On the flipside of earth, ie. those heading for a warmer season there are lots you can do to. Squish a couple of cherry toms and put them in the dirt, slice larger tomatoes and bury a slice or two slice under a light covering of soil, cucumber – same. You can also pick out the seeds and dry them on the window sill and throw them in the garden later. Pumpkin, sunflowers, save the seeds and throw them in the garden. You can also repeat the above for carrot tops and lettuces (etc.) that have a base intact of course and all of the above will produce true if the strain is heritage. Our NZ climate is mild and cool in winter and humid and hot in summer so if your climate supports brassicas, do them too.

Pineapple – now about the pineapple, it is a weirdo alien type of plant. Yes you can regrow pineapple, but if you’ve never seen a pineapple plant before you will be in for quite a treat. For pineapple cut the top off and push into the dirt, water repeatedly and wait.. before long it will grow the top leaves out and shoot up a central spine and start growing a pineapple on top of the spine. It’s weird, but delightful. I am pretty sure you can keep repeating this process over and over and it’s a one to one type of plant.

Lastly, if you are in lockdown please stay at home. You’ll only extend the lockdown if you are planning on being a rebellious germ spreading dick. Do your social distancing while out on essential procurement missions, look after each other, be kind, and enjoy this time with your family/kids/pets and neighbours at at safe distance, relax, we’ve got this.

I will try to post something everyday, let’s get through this crisis together. Stay safe!

Special mention about toilet paper – to all of those people who thought buying up all the worlds toilet paper would protect them (and not the bars of soap?!?) from the virus…. I am unsure why you plan on getting diarrhoea for the length of the lockdown and I don’t recall it being one of the symptoms. *but I hope you do*. Xx

2 Comments

  1. We are also “sheltering in place” here in Wisconsin, USA. I am starting all my plants inside right now and am starting and avocado and some mangos just to watch them grow. My mom grew a pineapple from the top. Mine rotted. Maybe I’ll try again! Nice blog. Stay put and stay safe!

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