A Gardener's Guide to Matariki

 

Matariki: A Time of Renewal and Reflection

Matariki, the Māori New Year, is a time of great significance in New Zealand. This period, marked by the appearance of the Matariki star cluster, signals a time of harvest celebration, food gifting, and planning and preparing the ground for the new year's crops. The rise of Matariki between late May and July serves as a reminder to gardeners that it's time to get ready for the coming spring while the garden rests during the winter months.

Understanding Matariki and its Significance in Gardening

The Matariki star cluster's presence in the sky is a signal to start planning your gardening activities. The cluster's disappearance in autumn marks the end of the crop cycle, indicating it's time to harvest and store food crops.

Gardening Tips for Matariki

  1. Share Your Harvest: Matariki is a time of sharing. Share your winter harvest or autumn preserves with friends and family. Citrus fruits like lemons are always a welcome gift to people without trees of their own. 

  2. Get Creative with Kids: Get the kids involved in making relishes, jams or lemon curd from your harvest. You could even get them to design labels for the jars and give them away as Matariki presents.

  3. Prepare New Ground: Turn over a new patch of ground to start or expand your vegetable plot. Plant a green manure crop to enrich the soil, making it ready for spring planting.

  4. Plant Garlic: This is an ideal time to plant garlic cloves. Purchase organic, untreated cloves from a garden center to ensure they sprout effectively.

  5. Add a Fruit Tree: Consider adding a new fruit tree to your garden. Choose something that will ripen around the next Matariki, such as a lemon tree.

  6. Create a Lunar Calendar: Mark the Māori lunar calendar for the coming year on a wall chart. This can be a fun project for the family and a practical tool to guide your gardening activities.

Celebrate and Plan Ahead

Matariki is not only a time for reflection and renewal but also a perfect opportunity to plan for the future. Celebrate this special time by gathering with loved ones for a warm pot-luck dinner, incorporating dishes made from your garden's produce. If you haven't grown anything yet, use this time to order seeds and start dreaming of next year's garden.

Embrace the spirit of Matariki, and let it inspire your gardening endeavors for the coming year. Happy planting!