Author: Minette Tonoli

Newsletter – November 2017

Newsletter – November 2017

It is mid Spring, and although some days are still terribly cold, it is a very exciting time in the garden! Herbs, flowers, vegetables, and fruit are all starting to grow and flourish and promises of upcoming summer harvests are plentiful! This newsletter focuses on […]

Week in Retrospect – Monday, 25 Sept – Sunday, 1 Oct

Week in Retrospect – Monday, 25 Sept – Sunday, 1 Oct

With the wicked wind today, it is best to reflect on gardening last week, than to try and go outside to do anything! Luckily so far my tomatoes and zucchinis seem only a bit windblown, but not worse for wear. I don’t think the colder […]

Newsletter – October 2017

Newsletter – October 2017

With spring really settling into most of the country, it is full-on gardening time! Get ready to sow and grow to your  heart’s content as we head into summer and and abundance of produce. Check out the monthly calendar for moon-calendar based growing tips, as well as a list of some vegetables, herbs, fruit and flowers to get under way for your garden.

This month we focus on Calendula as they are in full bloom – and such a quintessential part of a herb and vegetable garden. Read the October newsletter to find out about the amazing edible, cosmetic, medicinal and household uses for this bright little flower, as well as a recipe for making your own sugar scrub with calendula.


And remember to check out the Articles section on MeadowSweet website for updated blog articles on various gardening and herb related topics. For more up-to-date information, follow me on Social Media:








AND BONUS!!!! Look out for my new videos soon to be available on YOUTUBE too! 🙂 🙂 🙂

Also on the cards – LIVE Q&A – Skype date with Minette every month with your gardening questions in real-time!

How to grow Chillies & Peppers

How to grow Chillies & Peppers

From bell peppers to Carolina reapers – there’s a capsicum taste sensation to suit every level of heat tolerance, and they come in such an array of beautiful shapes, colours and sizes too, easily making them collector’s plants. Chillies remain one of my best sellers, […]

Companion Planting Principles

Companion Planting Principles

When you picture a vegetable garden in your minds’ eye, I am sure that somewhere there’ll be a bright and proud row of marigolds, or perhaps a nasturtium trailing through… and if I would ask whether you plant basil with your tomatoes, most people would […]

Week in Retrospect (18 Sept – 24 Sept)

I thought I'd mix it up a bit and simply do my week in retrospect in pictures - like a little picture tour of my garden,  nursery and doings. Sometimes showing is better than saying, but if you want to know more, hovering over the image will give a bit more info.


Bee & Butterfly Garden

Bee on white Borage

Rose & English Cottage Garden

Vegetable Garden

Berry Patch & Orchard


Markets / Out & About / Critters

Tomato Terminology #3 – To Be(efsteak) or not to Be(efsteak)

Tomato Terminology #3 – To Be(efsteak) or not to Be(efsteak)

The story of the shapes and sizes of tomatoes There’s beefsteak tomatoes, and then there’s a tomato cultivar called Beefsteak, which is, unsurprisingly a beefsteak type. So when a customer asks me for a beefsteak tomato, and I say “Sure, which one?”, I fully understand […]

Week in Retrospect (Monday, 4 Sept – Sunday, 17 Sept)

Week in Retrospect (Monday, 4 Sept – Sunday, 17 Sept)

The spring weather the last two weeks have hindered gardening efforts (the word “appalling” comes to mind, but I know better than to insult Mother Nature!). Periods of warm and sunny weather promises productive days in the garden, but I’m quickly chased back inside with […]

Kawakawa Balm

Kawakawa Balm


I’m a true believer in kawakawa now!

I’ve enjoyed the heart-shaped leaves and peppery fragrance of this native NZ plant (Macropiper excelsum) since I was introduced to it and its healing properties shortly after arriving in my new home country almost five years ago.

But I have only very recently made a kawakawa balm – and as luck (or unluck!?) would have it, I sprained my ankle really badly a week ago, and got a chance to try out the balm!

Every morning and evening, I massaged my sore ankle with the kawakawa balm, and it has healed incredibly well! Everyone still thought I’d be in a moon boot today, but I’m walking around almost with 100% mobility, and I am completely convinced it’s the kawakawa balm that helped the healing!

Okay… perhaps a bit of the healing also has to do with the turmeric tea (golden milk) I took as anti-inflammatory, and that I rested it well. But definitely the kawakawa mostly!

I’ve had great feedback on the balm from other people that have tried it as well, so I can say with confidence that it is truly a lovely healing balm for sprains, strains, aches and bruises.

Aren’t plants just amazing!?

Here’s how to make your own

Kawakawa Balm


  • 1 cup kawakawa infused oil *see note
  • 30g Beeswax
  • Lavender essential oil (optional)
  • You’ll also need sterilised jars, a fine sieve strainer, and a small pot


  1. Heat the kawakawa infused oil in the small pot on a low to medium heat until warm (not hot). If your oil has been solar infusing for more than 2 weeks, you don’t need to leave it on the heat for very long, but if you haven’t managed to solar infuse the oil, you can leave the oil gently warming for about 20 minutes to half an hour to heat infuse some more of the kawakawa goodness.
  2. When the oil is warm, strain out the leaves, and add your beeswax (I have found grated beeswax melts faster) and gently stir until it is all melted together.
  3. If you are using essential oil, add it now, stirring all the while to keep the ingredients well combined.
  4. Pour into sterilized jars

    kawakawa bottles
    kawakawa bottles
  5. When cooled, seal your balm, and use when necessary on bruises, sprains, strains, stiffness and even eczema.


To make a solar infused kawakawa oil, pick some kawakawa leaves and place in a wide-necked jar. Pick the leaves with holes eaten through them as these are believed to be the ones with most of the good medicinal ingredients. Pour enough oil over your leaves to submerge them, shaking gently to release air bubbles, and leave in a sunny spot to infuse for up to 2 weeks.

To make a heated or warm infusion, put your kawakawa leaves and oil in a double boiler and warm through for 20 to 40 minutes.

Rongoa (Maori mediicne)

It is traditional with all rongoa practice, to say a prayer (Karakia) before harvesting – giving thanks to Io (the supreme being), Papaatuuaanuku (Mother Earth), and Tane Mahuta (Keeper of the forest), and to appreciate the plant from which you are harvesting.

Tomato Terminology #2 – Indeterminate vs. Determinate

Tomato Terminology #2 – Indeterminate vs. Determinate

Indeterminate vs Determinate Tomatoes come in two growth habit types – determinate, or bush varieties, and indeterminate or vining varieties. DICTIONARY: Growth habit of a plant in horticulture refers to the shape, height, form, and general appearance of a plant species. Basically answering the question […]

Please note that due to stock-take and a phenomenal start to the season, the MeadowSweet online shop will not fulfill orders for a few weeks (10 Nov - 20 Nov) . You can still catch me at the Orewa Farmers Market, or you are most welcome to send inquiries on plant availability. Thank you ! Minette - MeadowSweet Herbs Dismiss