The weather has finally warmed and it would seem warm enough in most gardens now to be planting beans and corn.
These two summer favourites can be grown from punnets purchased from the garden centre as plants already grown. However they are very easy to grow from seed planted direct into the soil where you want them to grow.
Beans come in both dwarf bush form and as a climber.
Dwarf beans form a self-supporting bushy plant growing about 25cm tall and wide. They are quick to reach harvest, ready for eating around 7-8 weeks from sowing. Planted now they will be ready for Christmas dinner.
A highly recommended top producing bean variety is in the Ican Chefs Best Seed range called Supreme. It is high yielding, with strong disease resistance and has straight 14cm long beans set high on the plant for easy picking. The pods are distinctively glossy, very fleshy and have excellent flavour.
The bean Supreme comes ready over a 2-3 week period so making a number of sowings every three weeks will give a consecutive harvest through the summer months. As a small growing plant they are an ideal vegetable to grow in containers if you are limited for space, as well as in the garden.
Climbing beans form a larger plant and need some support. A structure of about 1.8-2m high is recommended with trellis, wires or string being ideal for the tendrils to climb around.
Climbing beans take about 10-12 weeks to start cropping from sowing but will keep flowering and producing beans for as long as the temperatures remain warm. Some climbing bean varieties will form a tuberous root system that if left in the soil will regrow in future years.
To leave your root systems to grow again the next year the vines should be cut off above ground level as the plants die off in the autumn rather than being pulled out roots and all.
A couple of good climbing varieties are Yates Shiny Fardenlosa which is renowned for long straight, stringless, flat glossy dark green pods. It is highly prolific.
Another popular and top performing climbing bean variety is Yates Scarlet Runner which produces very long pods for a long period through the summer months. It's known for continuous picking and heavy cropping.
Picking the beans young will give you more tender produce that hasn't had time to get stringy. An added bonus is the attractive flowers before they set pod. Scarlet Runner is also a perennial and will come up again each year.
Corn is an easy to grow and productive crop that grows well in Whanganui. Seeds should be sown now directly into the soil; these will be ready for harvest between mid February and March.
Corn are heavy feeding plants. Before planting I recommend mixing Ican Organic Vegetable Food into the soil and then side dress again regularly as the plants are growing. Corn is best planted in blocks rather than rows as this significantly improves the rate of pollination.
A highly recommended corn variety to grow is Tender Sweet, like the dwarf bean Supreme, it is part of the Ican Chefs Best Seed range.
Its reviews live up well to its description; "extra tender, and full flavour. Very tender husks that do not get stuck in your teeth. Strong germination and vigour, high disease tolerance and early maturing. The best corn variety available."
The Ican Chefs Best Seed Range has been developed by a group of independent garden centres with the aim to put quality and value first. It was addressing the issue that we are in an age where price is often pushed lower at the compromise of quality.
This range had garden experts carry out extensive trials as well as advice from vegetable seed specialists in NZ and internationally, to find the very best varieties for the NZ home gardener. The group of independent garden centres have chosen 15 of the very best vegetable varieties for NZ home gardeners.
The varieties have been selected for the following characteristics: Superior taste, Improved pest and disease resistance, increased vigour and yield. In addition, they are consistent and reliable. As well as Bean Supreme and Corn Tender Sweet, other seeds from this range which can be sown now include beetroot, buttercup pumpkin, carrot, cucumber, courgette, lettuce, tomato, radish, spinach and tomato.
If you haven't yet planted any potatoes or want a later crop, then it is not too late. Potatoes planted now will be ready for harvest in February.
If you have potatoes growing then regular mounding needs to be maintained as this increases the length of stem covered on which the potato tubers form. A side dressing of Tui Potato Food around the plants before they are mounded will be beneficial to growth and tuber development.
It is important to now start spraying your potato crop with Yates Mavrik or Yates Success to protect against potato psyllid. The potato psyllid can go undetected for a while but will later show up with plants showing a stunting and yellowing of the growing tip. The edges of the curled leaves often have a pink blush.
The stem may have swollen nodes and show a browning of the vascular tissue. After a while, infected potatoes develop a scorched appearance and plants collapse prematurely. Potato plants that are infected at an early stage end up with small underdeveloped tubers.
The same psyllid affects all plants in the Solanaceae family which includes tomatoes and tamarillo. Using the same mentioned spray treatment as for potatoes is effective.
Protect Apple Trees from Codling Moth now
Codling moth caterpillars burrow into the fruit of apples and thus make holes in them. They can also affect pears, quince, English walnuts and sometimes plums. Once inside the fruit the insect is relatively safe and will burrow towards the pip cavity and consume the seeds.
The insect 'over-winters' as a fully fed caterpillar in a silken cocoon beneath pieces of loose bark on trees or in other sheltered positions it can reach. In the late winter or early spring the overwintered caterpillars transform to pupae and the first moths generally appear during October-November and can occur into January and February.
The best method for control is an integrated pest management approach. This involves using pheromone traps being hung in a tree. Closely follow the instructions given.
Check weekly for population numbers caught in the trap and when larger numbers are recorded, a spray with Yates Success at this time is recommended to provide a reasonably complete control.
Have a great week!
Gareth Carter is general manager of Springvale Garden Centrer