Devon Sailing has a Turanga home where he has lived for 25 years, but for the first 24 of them, he never went to the garden. “I wasn’t a gardener because of access problems,” said the wheelchair user. “I never went to the garden until it was done.”
He is referring to the typical set of square and rectangular loft garden beds to the north of his section, attached to a specially constructed boardwalk.
The main ramp, which meets the fence, is about 1.1 meters wide – there is enough room for Devon (Ngāi Tamarāwaho, Ngāti Ranginui) to move comfortably in a wheelchair. Unlike the fence, the raised bed runs along a retaining wall. It’s important that her wheelchair doesn’t fit inside Devon’s arm.
A clean chain of spacious beds – about 1.2 meters away – hangs in the middle of the boardwalk, where Devon can easily reach at least two sides.
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His reach has been increased, he happily combines the use of his new favorite gardening tool, the Nevashi Long Handle, which was a gift from his wife, Merle.
Talking about his garden, Devon expresses all the joy, happiness and delight of the vegetable sellers after a successful season: the tomatoes were amazing. Rock melons were bursting with flavor (Devon prefers vegetables, only growing fruits – including Josh Fruit, Fijus and various citrus – for Marley and his daughter Bailey “who come here just to get fruit for their breakfast “And the green beans were a revelation.
“We’ve never liked green beans before, but then I grew them in the summer, and now we love them. We put them in steam and stir-fry; delicious,” he says.
Although not everything went according to plan. Merle said he was so lucky to have photographed the first few Kumara tribes he had dug because “after them, we picked up nothing but the size of little fingers!” There is a good laugh on the couple’s memory. “We did the right thing in the past,” Merle said with a laugh.
Devon has not decided if he will re-plant Kumara but for now, during my visit a week and a half after the winter solstice, the same bed of leafy Asian vegetables, brass, silver sauce and other kiwi vegetables Is. Backyard garden
What is the secret of abundance this winter, I ask. “When I pull something out, I put something else in there,” he says.
At one point, she “popped” wide beans – something she had never eaten before. “I’m still waiting for the harvest, but bees do love flowers, don’t they?”
His enthusiasm is understandable. It’s a well thought out garden, designed by someone who loves gardening, is eager to move forward with it, and understands the specific needs of the gardener – Devon himself. A self-taught graphic designer and artist, he designed the design during the 2020 Level 4 lockdown.
“Well, we had a kitchen renovation budget, but we couldn’t find builders and then the whole country closed down,” says Devon. “So I started designing the garden, partly to do something for myself. It was a lot of fun. I really enjoyed the lockdown.
Devon’s main goal was to create a wedge bed that would absorb as much sun as possible – which is why the main ramp is built in the shade of his fence, leaving more sunshine for the vegetables. At the same time, the size, shape and number of beds that could be adjusted had to be balanced against the size and width of the branching ramp in order to secure the movement of his wheelchair in space.
Building work stalled, moving forward as New Zealand lowered the level of each lockdown: first, to clean up and measure socially spaced landscaping space. Then he provided materials and construction, and Devon’s father was there to help with the case (at age 73, he was “his oldest apprentice ever”, Devon jokes) and finally, as The Kiwis celebrated Level 1, with Devon’s Wanao (cousins and nephew and his 26-year-old son Braden) stepping up and carrying the load of pottery to fill the beds.
The first plant – a Pak Choi – was planted in the dark, as soon as it was complete. Obviously, this was a moment that was long overdue. “I just couldn’t wait. I was so excited.”
The cost of filling the beds is 968. “A large truck came up with dirt from Dalton, they dumped it at the end of the garden, and the family spent three hours back and forth filling the beds,” he recalls. Also, money spent on plants, seeds, tools, and the like means “we’re not going to be in black anytime soon.”
Through traditional measures, it will definitely take time to recoup their investment, but Sailing knows that this rigorous calculation of dollar terms does not account for the non-financial benefits they are now reaping. ۔ Yes, there are common benefits that green gardeners already know – delicious and fresh home-cooked food, convenience on your doorstep, the joy of feeding loved ones with the results of your hard work – but for Devon, the freedom to access a productive area His own property, which was previously out of bounds, provides a level of satisfaction that is out of bounds.
Devon, 44, broke his neck while playing rugby at the age of 18. As part of his rehabilitation, he taught himself to draw using pencil and paper – “just be good at reusing my hands”.
Eventually, he gained enough strength and skill to use a paint brush on canvas – part restoration and partial creative expression. When computers came along, and technology and software improved enough to accommodate his vision, he taught himself graphic design using these tools, eventually earning a diploma in art as well as a diploma in business. ۔
These days, he applies the same skill and the spirit of independent learning to his gardening. “It’s amazing what you can learn from YouTube and other gardeners.”
Although Devon is not a young gardener at all. His father Case, like many Kiwis of his breed, had a vegetable garden and a small garden in his quarter-acre section.
“I remember always having to go to the garden to get vegetables for dinner, or come home after school and turn to mourning or mud when Dad told us. It was a lot of work at the time. , And a lot of my gardening at the time was just doing it and walking with it.
These days, no garden task is more difficult. I like being here, even for the smallest thing;
He is already thinking about the planting season, he has learned a lot from his first season. “I didn’t find good capsicum or eggplant, so I’m going to try again. I loved tomatoes and cucumbers because they are so easy. I had tomatoes that were completely fearless, so I stuck to them. Yes, they are perfect in size – they are bushes and not too tall or too short to reach me.
Although not everything will be repeated.
“Then no celery because we don’t like the taste of it raw. It’s good to use as a base for soup, but we had 12 plants! No one needs them, but we needed them because Bailey said she would squeeze their juices. Well, she failed us in the end. She didn’t give juice to anyone.
Devon is a digging gardener, keeping his soil and plants happy by casting them in two insect boxes.
“I don’t mind spraying to control pests, even though I’m currently using an organic spray.”
He estimates that he spends at least half an hour a day in the garden.
“He spends hours and hours there! We went for a few days one day and as soon as we got home, he went straight to the garden.
“Well, the brass needs to be taken care of,” Devon explained
It is heartwarming to hear their loving words. However, Sailings has waited 25 years to laugh about the garden.