Gardening: Get it all together and stay in charge

By Rachel Vogan


Here comes the sun. As soil temperatures rise and days get longer, the garden is like a magnet that draws you outside, in some cases from dawn until dusk.

Take control now, to avoid that overwhelming feeling of things getting on top of you, when weeds loom, crops go to seed, and lawns get tatty.

IN THE VEGE GARDEN


What to sow: Seeds are so much fun and exceptionally economical to grow. Sow carrots, beetroot, parsnips, radish, spinach, lettuce, rocket and salad greens now. In cool areas sow early crops of Brussels sprouts. Carrots and parsnips need to be sown directly into the soil as they don't readily transplant. Sow all the others in seed-raising mix in trays, or in friable garden beds.

What to plant: Keep planting cucumbers, gherkins, melons, pumpkins, tomatoes, herbs, lettuces, celery, spinach, and silverbeet. Seek out a copy of the Tui NZ Vegetable Garden, it's in all the shops and is packed full of information and tasty recipes for more than 70 common and more exotic vegetables and herbs.

What to pick: Broad beans will be in full swing. Note that the pods are more palatable when picked young. Harvest lettuces, hand-pick salad and micro greens, celery, spring onions, spinach, silverbeet and Cavolo nero. Early tomatoes will be starting to ripen, apply tomato food around the root zone to give them a boost. Berries will be ripening. The trick is to keep the birds at bay.

Christmas tinsel works a treat and adds a festive feel to your garden.

Early potatoes will be ready to harvest, as will carrots and radish.

Top harvest tip: Try to harvest only what you can use in one meal - the crops always keep better in the garden than in the fridge.

What to preserve: Beans, carrots, radish, courgettes and spring onions can all be used in pickles and relishes. Rhubarb is in plentiful supply; try making roast rhubarb chutney, this makes a tasty home-made Christmas gift or thank-you present for someone who may be watering your garden over the holiday period.

GARDEN MAINTENANCE


Lawns: To keep it fresh and green, water deeply once a week, sprinkle Saturaid over light soils and add Tui Lawn Fertiliser if you haven't already done so. Lift the height of mower blades, too, this helps the lawn conserve moisture and look fresher for longer.

Roses: Dead head the first flush of flowers now and in six weeks you will be rewarded with another flurry of blooms. It's a good point to remember if you are planning a special occasion and want your roses in bloom. Add a layer of Debco Rose Compost around the root zone, not hard up against the stem and water deeply once a week in dry periods.

Watering: Water the soil, not the plants, and avoid watering in the hottest part of the day, the water can scorch the leaves.

Tools: Clean out the garden shed and spoil yourself with a few new Joseph Bentley tools, you will find after a few sessions in the garden they become your go-to tools.

Remove and dispose: Get rid of any diseased plant material. Don't be tempted to compost this unless your compost really heats up enough to kill the diseases and spores.

And lastly a message from the bees: Do us a favour and plant more flowers please, we are starving. Feed us and we will feed you with honey and pollinate your plants.

- Hamilton News

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