LAWN WEED TIME
ROSE PRUNING AND CARE
NEW POTATOES FOR XMAS DINNER
EARLY TOMATO PLANTS
FRUIT TREES ARE IN
A PROBLEM WITH CORN
AT LAST WE ARE PASSED THE WINTER SOLSTICE
AUTUMN LEAF FALL
GARLIC AND SHALLOTS
DON'T DELAY PRUNING
SCARED OF PRUNING?
BIG STRAWBERRIES FOR YOU
TENDER PLANT PROTECTION
To next set of articles
August is a very busy month for gardeners with many gardening activities to address.
Roses need pruning and spring care. Fruit trees need spraying with Liquid Copper to protect against various seasonal diseases.
Lawns need to be de-thatched and moss problems cleaned up along with spring weeds.
Green crops if not already dug in should be done now and the planting out of the first of the new seasons vegetables started along with potatoes being sown.
Tomato plants will be available for growing on along with many other new season plants for the vegetable garden.
Seeds of both vegetables and flowers should now be sown for later plantings.
The hardy new season flower plants are available for borders, beds and containers.
Garden mulches should be applied to suppress the new season weeds.
Sowing of new lawns or over sowing preparations should be started.
Early plantings of frost tender plants need protection from the cold and frost. Spray with Vaporgard.
A very busy month indeed.
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Thinking of raising your own plants from seed? Savings can be achieved compared
with buying plants already raised by a nurseryman.
But temperature is critical for many seeds. The nurseryman knows this and provides the correct temperature, justifying the prices charged for ready to plant seedlings -- properly hardened off too in most cases.
So if you can provide bottom heat for many of the common species, either by one of the cheap heating pads, thermostatically set to about 20deg C, or, less accurately, in a hot water cupboard, go ahead.
The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, London, published some time ago the results of experiments on the range of temperatures at which many seeds germinated best.
Seeds were sown at between 6deg C and 31deg C in different cabinets and each day the number which had germinated were counted -- 50 percent germination by day five from sowing.
At the lower end of the scale, from 16deg C to 20deg C, clarkia, schizanthus, nigella, delphinium and centaura germinated best.
From 18deg C to 23deg C antirrhinum, salvia, carnation, stock, pansy.
From 20deg C to 25deg C marigold (Tagetes), ageratum, aster, dianthus, impatiens, nemesia.
Needing even higher temperatures, from 21deg C to 26deg C were lobelia, helipterum and Tagetes erecta.
From 25deg C to 30deg C were nicotinia, zinnia, begonia, petunia and celosia.
Thus with some under heat -- many tender species can be germinated in the middle of winter, including such tender subjects as tomatoes, begonias, coleus, basil, sweetcorn and peppers.
Peat or paper pots are used so the plants do not suffer from transplanting shock. The plants are all hardened off before planting out in November when all frosts have passed.
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Gladioli are excellent for cut flowers indoors or out of doors as feature plants
in a border. The tall spikes last well in water and blend well with other floral
Gladioli corms may be planted in succession from now on so as to have blooms throughout the summer, though the main planting season is September and October. In gardens exposed to harsh spring gales the later plantings may be preferable, though shelter can be provided to protect the tall spikes. Firm staking is needed in most situations.
If the soil is on the acid side add some lime. Humus to retain moisture in summer is a good idea, but beware of using too rich compost. If this supplies too much nitrogen. The soft spikes this will produce will be vulnerable to high winds and the flowers will lack colour brightness. A couple of handfuls of bone meal a square yard or a dressing of wood ash will brighten flower colour.
Buy moderate-sized gladioli corms, not the largest ones available. If planted with a dibber, cut off the base straight across, a pointed dibber, such as is used for cabbages and leeks, will leave an air gap under the corm, but with a blunt one the base of the corm will sit firmly on the soil. A depth of 10cm to 15cm (4in to 6in) is about right.
Some gardeners plant in a shallow trench to give shelter from the wind, filling in the trench later to keep the roots cool. A insecticide or spraying oil will be needed to control thrips.
I am often asked why fancy gladioli revert to plain reds or whites after a few years. These are the tough ones. The fancies are weaker and often die out if left in the ground year after year. Corms should be lifted in the autumn, the small cormlets peeled off, the old one discarded, and the new corm dusted with a fungicide powder to prevent rot during winter. If this is done the corms will continue to throw true to label year after year.
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Dahlias give a quick and bright summer display, whether sown as seeds about now
-- dwarf bedding cultivars -- or raised now from cuttings.
Seedlings are easy to raise in trays of seedling mix, pricked out into cell trays to wait until frosts have passed. Tubers of named cultivars, either saved from last year or bought now, should be put in damp potting mix in the greenhouse or conservatory to sprout young shoots. These may then be cut off with a sharp knife or razor blade and struck as cuttings in potting mix.
By the time the plants are sturdy and have been hardened off the soil should have warmed up, maybe not enough to plant them out of doors -- wait until frosts have finished -- but they will grow nicely in a patio tub.
These containers can be taken under the eaves or some other frost-free situation when a sharp nip threatens. This will give them a good start so that when the weather is finally settled flowers will not be far behind. Do not discard the tubers as these will continue to produce new shoots and these can be planted in succession up to December. It is these later plantings that will give you a continuous show of blooms right into next winter.
Once the last cuttings have been taken the old tubers should be thrown, as the new seasons cuttings will produce tubers for next years crop.
With attention to watering during the dry months, and dead-heading as the blooms fade, they should give a bright display right into March or April, five months of flowering.
Some gardeners take the short cut of merely planting the tubers where they want a display. These will quickly shoot and grow, but it has been found the best stems and flowers develop from cuttings as described. There is less chance of soil-borne diseases carrying over when cuttings are taken than when the tubers are planted.
Tubers or cuttings, one precaution to take is to make sure the new plants are correctly labelled. Height, flower shape and colour vary widely and a tall exhibition variety planted at the front of the border will shade and hide smaller varieties planted behind them.
The dwarf Coltness types raised from seed should be at the front, taller ones behind.
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It is a good time to prepare areas where new lawns are to be planted this
spring. Spring is not the best time to plant lawns as the new grasses have to
face the coming summer and unless sufficient water can be provided during the
dry periods, the lawn will suffer.
Gardeners can reduce the problem by assisting the young grasses roots to penetrate deeper into the soil by the liberal use of Gypsum Soil Life.
Areas to be planted with lawn seed should now be cultivated by use of a rotary hoe. Once a fine tilth is achieved then the area should be gently sloped from the centre to the borders. This will assist rain to run off in the future.
Low areas or pockets should be filled to keep a nice gradual slope without places for the water to pond. Once the area is ready for sowing, wait for a couple of weeks for any weed seeds to germinate. These can be hurried up by keeping the area moist (if needed to) and applying Gypsum.
Gypsum assists seed to germinate quicker. Once you have a good show of young weeds, spray these with a combination of Roundup, Raingard and a little nitrogen added in same the form of Urea. The nitrogen makes the weeds grow faster thus aiding the Roundup to work quicker this time of the year.
The Raingard not only rain proofs the Roundup but it also acts as a chemical bridge assisting the chemical to enter the weeds foliage better and results in a far better kill rate.
You then have the option of waiting a further couple of weeks to see if any more weeds emerge or take the chance on few remaining and sow your lawn seed.
Another sprinkling of Gypsum should be done at this time to assist the lawn seed to germinate and further condition the soil for the new grasses to be able to develop stronger and deeper root systems.
In areas prone to drought, the earlier you can get the lawn sown the better the time for establishment prior to the dry times.
If you have to patch areas of the lawn, similar procedures should be followed as mentioned. When you have a nice show of young grasses, broadcast Bio Boost over the area. This is a mild fertiliser and it will not burn the new grasses and it will also assist with water retention.
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Once the spring growth starts not only do our lawns come away but also weed seeds in the lawn start germinating too.
Winter is a hard time for many lawns especially if they have had traffic over them or have been attacked by moss. These factors along with the weather tend to set back lawns and open up spaces between the grasses, which allows for weeds to establish.
If you can nip the weeds in the bud (so to speak) then you reduce down the future problems of the weeds maturing and re-seeding. As long as the weather conditions are right and the lawn is not too wet then my suggestion would be to spray with a lawn weed killer such as Turfix about now.
Then repeat spray with the same in about 6-8 weeks time. This should take care of most weeds and then later in the spring while the lawn soil is still moist you can scarify and over sow afterwards for a nice thick mat of lawn.
The best way of applying lawn weed killers is by the use of a Lawnboy and if you add Raingard to the mix you will get a far better result.
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One of the best disease protections for new growth on plants in the spring is the traditional copper sprays. On fruit trees and ornamentals including roses, the film of copper will offer good protection against a range of diseases that occur in spring while moist, cool to warm conditions prevail.
Checking my own fruit trees and roses I see that buds are now swelling and new shoots are appearing on the roses. It is not so much the temperature that brings on the new season’s growth, but the increasing amount of light hours each day. Most plants respond to light hours more than they do to temperatures.
Any pruning that has not been done should be attended to as soon as practical. Pruning should only be done on warmer days, when there is lower humidity. The disease, Silverleaf favours cool temperatures and moist conditions to strike.
Once pruning is completed the wounds should be sealed with a spray of Liquid Copper with Raingard added. On fruit trees the swelling buds should also be protected with the same spray.
Even if there is no sign of movement on some trees such as the pip fruit, it does not hurt to start the copper spray program and repeat every 14 days.
The best copper to use is the new Liquid Copper which is also a commercial product with a very high concentration of very fine copper particles. Used at only 3.5 mils per litre of water it places a very fine film of copper over the plant.
To ensure that the copper film is not affected by weather 1 ml of Raingard can be added for each litre of spray. This gives rain protection within half an hour of spraying, which will last for about 14 days of average rainfall. Using the Raingard means that your time and money is not wasted if it rains during the 14 day period. For most plants a repeat spray in a 2 weekly cycle is all that is then needed till the disease period is finished.
Liquid copper has another distinct advantage over all the other powder type coppers.
As it is already a liquid it mixes extremely well in water and does not cause blockage of spray jets which often happens in the case of the powder coppers.
One or the worst disease problems in the spring is curly leaf disease on peaches and nectarines.
Often the copper spray every 14 days is insufficient to prevent a lot of damage. The leaves once they start to move, can out grow the film leaving parts of the leaf vulnerable to the disease.
Commercial growers will be spraying every 7 to 10 days to compensate for the growth.
It has also been found that Silica sprayed onto the emerging foliage gives added protection and reduces the overall damage.
Silica in a liquid form can be found in the product called DE (Diatomaceous Earth) this can be mixed in with the Liquid copper spray and Raingard. A number of gardeners that have had serious problems with curly leaf have said that the silica type sprays have made a vast improvement with only a small amount of the foliage being damaged.
Another aspect is from a book that I read by Dr Maynard Murry who treated stone fruit trees with Ocean Solids (All the minerals from the ocean). His trials involved a group of nectarine trees, placing the Ocean Solids in the root zone of every second tree. All the trees were then sprayed with the fungus disease, curly leaf.
The Ocean Solid treated trees showed no sign of the disease where the untreated trees died within three years.
This year as well as the sprays of Liquid Copper, DE and Raingard my trees have also been given a dose of the Ocean Solids. Interestingly I have heard from the odd gardener that some stone fruit trees growing near the coast have never had curly leaf problems.
Likely it would be the salt spray that has done the trick. It also works on the principal that if you give a plant every possible mineral and element that it may desire to have available, the plant will grow very healthy and not contract any diseases unless it is placed into stress for some other reason.
The same of course applies to our own bodies in that we require 92 odd elements for our own cells to replicate perfectly and provide a very strong immune system.
By applying Ocean Solids to our editable gardens of fruit and vegetables we are obtaining many of the minerals that are not normally found in conventionally grown food.
Ultimately you can also grow wheat grass with the Ocean Solids and juice it as wheat grass is one of the few plants that will take up all the 90 odd elements when available.
Now would be a good time to apply Ocean Solids to all your fruit trees, vegetable areas and preferred plants such as Roses. This will allow the crystals to water down into the root system before the new season’s growth becomes too far advanced. Ocean Solids are only applied once a year.
Bladder plum on plum trees is another disease that can greatly reduce the amount of fruit that will mature. For this the Liquid Copper spray and Raingard are used. You start this program when the tree’s flowers start to open. Spray late in the day when the pollination has finished for the day. Repeat every 7 to 10 days.
A point to remember is to never add any spraying oils, to any type of copper spray.
It greatly reduces the effectiveness of any copper and will increase the wash-off of copper particles in rain. If an oil needs to be sprayed (in most cases it is not) then make the oil spray a separate issue a few days before applying a copper spray.
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Many gardeners will be starting to plant out hardy seedlings of vegetables and flower plants over the next few weeks. Cats just love these manicured soil areas and find them to be tantalizing toilets.
Seedlings are scratched out and a blob of cat manure is deposited.
When you try to correct the damage you need to be wary of the deposit lurking in the soil waiting for an unprotected hand.
More often than not it will be neighbourhood cats that are slipping in under cover of darkness or when you have your back turned.
It is not a nice situation and one that costs you time and money with losses of young seedlings.
Prevention is always the answer and the best thing that I have come across is commercial strength Naphthalene which many garden centres sell as, Cat Repellent. This is like the moth balls that we used to use to protect woollen clothing in storage against moths.
The crystals are sprinkled around the seedlings that you wish to protect. I believe it is the smell that the cats do not like and when freshly laid it can make their eyes water.
The crystals evaporate into the air over the following days and need to be replaced with fresh till the cats get the message or till the plants are well established.
The product can also be used around doorways and other areas where you do not want cats to go.
It will not work on all cats but appears to control over 95% of the feline populations.
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It is around about this time of the year that gardeners prune their roses making them ready for the new season. Weather is a determining factor on when you prune so you may wish to cut out this article for later reference.
Some gardeners worry about pruning their roses early and after the new shoots have grown, a frost may damage the shoots and hamper the new season development.
It is a valid concern but there are ways to overcome the problem and reduce late frost damage. The most important thing is not to give your roses any nitrogen rich fertilisers such as Nitrophoska. There are two reasons for this and the first is that the nitrogen will force growths which will be sappy and tender, easily damaged by frost or cold winds.
Sappy growths are loved by aphids, they just home in on this delicious aphid tucker.
In past seasons a number of gardeners have contacted me because their rose’s new shoots were not normal in fact they had very distorted growths as if an herbicide had stuck them. In each case the gardeners had applied nitrogen or Nitrophoska to the roses at the rates given on the packets. (80 grams per square metre) That amount according to the specifications of the Importer’s staff (Ravensdown) is far in excess of what an application should be in any circumstances. According to my information from the importer, the maximum amount of Nitrophoska to be applied to heavy feeding crops such as maize, when the crop is well established, would be 50 grams per square metre.
For general garden applications an amount of 25 grams (or less) per square metre for established plants..
Roses only need one teaspoon per month at the most and this is the recommendation of the New Zealand Rose Society on their web site.
Personally I would not use any as the product is acidic (so is rose fertiliser) and being so, harms soil life and worms. You are far better off using blood and bone, sheep manure pellets, magnesium and potash. (In fact all your roses should be given a good dose of potash now as this toughens up any new growths.)
The above natural products will more than adequately feed your roses through the season; (applications about every 6 to 8 weeks) increase the soil life and make for healthy roses.
The more of the chemical fertilisers you apply, the greater the health problems which means more rescue sprays to overcome the problems.
Look at any old rose in a neglected garden to see how healthy it is when compared to roses that are chemically pampered. (Should I say Hampered?)
Pruning of roses is very simple and you can’t do anything wrong unless you were to cut the plant off at ground level.
First thing to do is to examine the rose and see what dead wood and spindly canes are present. These are removed. You are now left with a number of hearty canes varying in age. Generally we are looking for four to six canes that radiate out from the crown in different directions.
(Four mature canes at the cardinal points would be perfect) Very old canes can be removed if the remain canes are in a balanced situation. Even new canes can be removed if there is too many of them. When removing a cane it must be cut right back to the trunk from which it came. If not, it will likely produce new shoots.
At this stage we should be down to about 4 to 6 canes that are fairly long.
You will notice buds (where the new shoots are going to be) on these canes. You need to choose now how you want the rose to grow.
If you cut the canes back too 2 or 3 outward growing buds the rose will likely grow taller and have less flowers but the flowers will be superior. You have cut the canes fairly low and rubbed out most of the inward facing buds.
On the other hand if you want a shorter bush with lots of flowers you prune at the 4th to 6th outgoing bud and leave most of the inward facing buds intact.
Lots of new shoots will grow from this pruning and your rose will have a lot of flowers on shorter stems. If you want to be tricky you can cut the canes on the south side of the rose short and the canes facing the sunny north taller.
This would result in a few taller flowering canes behind a mass of shorter flowing canes. The taller ones would be ideal for cut flowers. Roses are very pliable and I have turned bush roses into tall standards, climbing roses into living archways by selective pruning and training.
The good thing about it all is if you don't like what you create then next winter change the way you prune. There is one very important point. DO NOT PRUNE ON A COOL MOIST DAY.
This time of the year silver leaf disease runs ramped in moist/wet/cool/cold conditions and will quickly enter any cuts. This can mean a rose that will die over the next few years.
Pick a sunny warm day that is reasonably dry. Make up a trigger spray bottle of Liquid Copper with Raingard added and as soon as you finish pruning a rose, spray all the wounds.
Place an amount of methylated spirits in an old cup or similar and put your secateurs blades into the meths between roses. This is to prevent the spread of virus or diseases.
For climbing roses you just thin out and tidy up to suit the situation they are in.
After you have finished pruning all your roses then give them all a good spray with the new concentrated Liquid Copper (made up at 3.5 mils per litre) with Raingard added. Spray the canes till they are tinted blue. This copper will give a reasonable degree of frost protection to the new shoots.
Later if you have new shoots and there is going to be a cold snap spray the shoots with Vaporgard for the frost protection it offers.
Now you have got your pruning out of the way you need to decide how you are going to care for the roses this season. If you want really healthy roses then you need to give them and the soil they grow in, all the natural foods and minerals that the plants need. You do not use any type of rose fertiliser or chemical sprays on or near your roses including herbicides. These all harm the natural balance of nature.
It has been proven that if you give a plant every mineral and element that the plant needs it will grow very health and not be prone to disease attack unless it comes into stress for some reason.
To achieve this sprinkle half a teaspoon of Ocean Solids and one teaspoon of Simalith (mineral rich rock dust) near the base of each rose and cover with a little soil. (These are only used once a year) If you like also sprinkle some Neem Granules or pellets around the base of the rose. This can help with keeping insect pests away. When the rose shoots reach about 3 to 5 cm long, spray them with Magic Botanic Liquid (MBL) and Perkfection. The soil under the rose should be sprayed also or drenched.
At this stage it is a good time to apply blood and bone, sheep manure pellets and Fruit and Flower Power (Potassium and magnesium for flowering) Cover these over with a mulch of good animal manure based compost. The Fruit and Flower Power can be applied in small amounts every month. The blood and bone, sheep pellets about every 2-3 months with compost covering.
Spray the foliage of the rose every two weeks with MBL. Gardeners that used this product last season reported that they had never had roses so good and so disease free.
If aphids or other pest insects appear spray them at dusk with Key Pyrethrum and Neem Tree Oil.
By doing the above you should have great results this season even if you have in the past used a lot of chemical fertilisers and sprays. In these cases there should be a marked improvement but it may take another season or two to undo all the damage done in the past.
Some rose societies and members have followed my natural rose guides and reported back the great results they have achieved.
How do you want your roses this season? It is in your hands, work with nature or against it.
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Now that the shortest day is a month passed and there now are only five more months till the longest day, many of us are impatient to get started in our gardens. I think it is the desire to plant and grow things that is the gardener’s drug of choice and like any addiction it must be satisfied in some manner.
There is a winter project that you can do to satisfy the urges and have great benefits to your health.
I wrote about this earlier in the year and a number of gardeners and non gardeners have taken up the project which is growing wheat grass for juicing. Health wise it is the simplest method of greatly enhancing your well being. It is fairly obvious that the health system has problems so we need to take matters into our own hands and do what we can to keep good health for the rest of our days.
The reason for growing wheat grass is that the grass will take up the 92 minerals and elements that our bodies require for excellent health, provided that we supply those minerals to the grass.
When we put the harvested grass through a manual juice extractor and drink the green liquid on an empty stomach; we are taking all those minerals, enzymes and vitamins directly into our bloodstream to heal and fortify all the organs of our bodies.
I believe that any one that is not already as fit as a buck rabbit will notice a great improvement in their general well being within a week or two of juicing every day.
I began juicing over 9 months and the improvements to my own well being are really great.
To get started to grow the wheat grass you need a couple of polystyrene boxes with drainage holes drilled in the base.
The boxes should be 12 to 18cm deep. Fill to a height of two thirds with any good compost from a garden centre. Over this you sprinkle two rich sources of minerals, Ocean Solids and Simalith, then lightly cover with more compost.
If you have friable animal manure such as chicken manure this should also be sprinkled with the above mineral products. If not then use sheep manure pellets and blood and bone.
Next sprinkle thickly, organic wheat grass seed so that the seeds are just about touching.
Cover the seed with a light layer of compost, or other products such as potting mix, sand or pumas.
Water down with another mineral rich product, MBL (Magic Botanic Liquid) Place the tray in a glass house with a sheet of glass over it. If you do not have glasshouses bring the tray indoors into a warm room to aid germination. Indoors as soon as you have a good show of the spikes of the wheat grass, then move the tray outdoors to a sunny sheltered spot and place a layer of old curtain netting over the tray.
This is to stop the birds ripping the tray apart. In a glasshouse once a good show is seen remove the glass. If birds or rodents can get to the tray then use the curtain netting also. Once the grass is well established at 3 to 5 cm tall remove the curtain netting.
Now you can start another tray off using the above methods.
When the first tray of grass has reached a height of 12 to 16cm you can start cutting and juicing.
Also start a new tray and follow this cycle. If juicing for several people, more trays will be needed.
You will notice that the grass is a blue green in colour indicating it is rich in minerals.
Cut the grass about 2cm above the height of the compost, about 2-3 handfuls will give 30mls of juice for one person. You will soon learn how much you need to cut from each tray.
The best time to cut the grass and juice it is first thing in the morning as you will be taking the juice on an empty stomach. Place the grass in your manual juicer and squeeze the vital juice out. Do not use a normal juice extractor as the heat of the blades kills the enzymes and vitamins making it inferior.
Likewise do not store the juice for later use as goodness is lost over time.
The juice, if grown in the manner suggested is very sweet when freshly juiced from newly grown wheat grass.
It still tastes like grass and can be washed down with a small drink of water. Juice left in the fridge or juice from a second cut of the same tray of wheat grass, is more bitter which indicates to me that minerals and enzymes are lost.
After drinking the juice do not eat or drink other things for 20 minutes or more to allow time for the juice to be completely absorbed into your blood stream.
Daily juicing will build you a strong immune system, relieve or cure many health problems, slow down the aging process, increase your mental capacity and flush out harmful toxins from your body.
Juicing is so simple and cheap, taking about 5 minutes of your time each morning including the rinsing clean of the extractor. I for one will be juicing for the rest of my life.
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This season’s certified seed potatoes are now available in garden centres through out New Zealand.
The initial range is about half a dozen varieties with more being added every week.
The first certified seed potatoes are always the fast maturing types which are referred to as ‘early’ or ‘first early’ which include the following varieties: Swift 60 days; Liseta 60-90 days; Rocket 60 days; Jersey Bennes 90 days; Cliff Kidney 90 days and Maris Anchor 90 days.
The number of days after each variety indicates the time, after sprouting, the potatoes take to mature given average growing conditions.
Seed potatoes have to be broken out of their dormancy before they will grow and we call this ‘sprouting.’ If you were to place non sprouted seed potatoes into the cold soil of the garden nothing would happen till the soil warmed up. If the soil happened to be too wet for an extended period, then the seed potatoes would likely rot in the ground.
Potatoes being a seasonal crop have a built in dormancy period which varies between varieties with many of the early potatoes only having a short dormancy unless they are chilled.
In the natural flow of nature a potato will sprout in the soil when the soil temperature rises. This will often be later in spring or early summer. The potato will grow to maturity; produce a crop of tubers and flower.
The flowers produce green, small tomato like seed pods which you will often see on mature potatoes.
These pods contain seeds which if given the chance, will become potato plants in their own right.
The tops of the potato plants die off leaving the tubers in the soil. As the soil cools in autumn the tubers in the soil go into dormancy which is further assisted by the colder soil conditions of winter.
In the spring when the soil warms the cycle repeats. It is this natural dormancy aspect that allows us to grow a sizable crop of potatoes and store them for later use.
That is of course as long as we store them correctly in as cold as possible conditions. Late crops that mature in autumn should be left in the soil to store naturally which works fine as long as the area is not prone to excess water in winter. If the soil becomes water logged for an extended period then the potatoes may rot. Otherwise you just dig up a few tubers as you need them. Bringing too many tubers indoors to the warmer temperatures will break dormancy and the potatoes will start to sprout.
This is the method that you apply to the certified seed potatoes that you will buy over the next few weeks. Bring them inside where it is warm and start the tubers sprouting. If you want to achieve sprouting even quicker, place the seed potatoes in the hot water cupboard.
As soon as the little sprouts appear you then set the seed potatoes out onto a tray with their shoots upwards. The tray is placed outside in a sunny or partial shade situation that is frost free.
Under a car port or evergreen trees and shrubs is ideal as the potatoes will have frost protection from above and ample light to ‘green up’ The greening happens to any potato when it is exposed to light for a period of time. This greening hardens up the new shoots and prepares the seed potato for planting out.
A question that is often asked of me by gardeners is ‘Can I plant the potatoes that have sprouted from home grown potatoes or purchased ones, or do I have to buy new certified seed potatoes’?
A good question and the simple answer is if you want a good crop of potatoes then always buy fresh certified seed potatoes. There are two reasons for this. The first and most obvious is that certain diseases can be carried on the tubers and using non-certified seed potatoes could introduce these diseases into the new crop. Certified seed potatoes are checked while they are growing and post harvest for any diseases and if free of problems they obtain certification.
The less known reason is that most potato varieties grown these days are bred to fail after the first initial crop.
The reason for this, I have been told, is the potato breeders want to keep their jobs.
If you grow a variety of certified seed potatoes and harvest a good crop that is all that is meant to happen. If you keep a few of the crop and grow them then the second generation crop will likely have a few good sized potatoes at harvest and the rest will be small. Take the better potatoes from this and you will likely end up with a crop of marble size potatoes on the third generation.
This does not apply to heritage varieties such as the potatoes we call Maori potatoes. They should crop well year after year as long as diseases do not affect the tubers.
If you have plenty of garden room you can grow some of the sprouted seeds from purchased potatoes or previously grown crops. Hedge your bets and also plant ample new certified seed potatoes as well.
Buying an early variety such as Jersey Bennes about now gives you time to sprout the potatoes and green them up ready for planting out later in August. Taking 90 days from planting to maturity will have nice new potatoes ready for Xmas 2006.
So don't delay. The best seed potatoes originate from the South Island because of the colder conditions. One supplier marks their certified seed potato bags ‘South Island Grown’ Look for them.
The following is from the gardening book that I have written (available in September) that is a novel way to grow potatoes:
“STRAW POTATOES: Here's another interesting method you might like to try. Dig over the soil as for normal planting, making sure an area of about 6cm deep is friable. Scoop out a shallow hole, and place the various ingredients mentioned earlier into the base of the hole with the sprouted seed potato.
Lightly cover the seed with soil, and then progressively place layer after layer of loose straw on top of the sprouts as they appear.
This is done to a thickness of about 12 to 14cm. The shoots will grow through these layers of straw and the tops will come out through the top.
When the plants mature, carefully remove the straw to harvest the new potatoes. They will have grown happily amid the layers of straw, and will come out soil-free and clean.” end
The ingredients are Gypsum one tablespoon, sheep manure pellets, small handful, Ocean Solids, quarter of a teaspoon, BioPhos, a teaspoon full and Simalith half a teaspoon.
The Gypsum supplies ample calcium and sulphur, the sheep pellets, natural NPK, Ocean Solids about 90 minerals and elements, the BioPhos supplies natural phosphate and beneficial micro organisms, the Simalith supplies additional magnesium, silica and elements.
These products will greatly assist in keeping the plants healthy and free of diseases while growing.
They also enrich the crop in minerals and elements which are great for your own health.
Root crops will take into themselves more of any elements in the soil than foliage crops.
This is a good reason to avoid harmful chemical fertilisers and sprays including any herbicides.
You don't want these in your home grown potatoes as you already get enough of them in any potatoes you buy.
Home grown potatoes generally speaking have far better flavour than most purchased ones with the exception of organic grown and potatoes from some South Island growers.
Your own potatoes will have better cooking aspects with added health benefits.
There are lots of good reasons to grow your own potatoes.
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July is the second month of the gardening year and a busy month as there will likely be only a few days available, to do the gardening jobs that require your attention this month.
Take advantage of those nice fine days and get as many of the following done as possible.
Pruning of roses and deciduous fruiting plants is the main task for many gardeners this month.
It is not the warmth that causes dormant buds to swell (though it helps) its the ever increasing hours of light each day. Plants that are in range of street lighting will respond earlier than those that are not.
Now would be a good time to give a cleanup spray of Lime Sulphur if you have not done so already.
Alternatively a spray of Liquid Copper and Raingard over your roses and deciduous fruiting plants.
Include any citrus trees with the copper spray. The film that is left on the plants lasts for 14 days if the Raingard has been added. The copper film also gives a degree of protection to the buds from frost.
This extra protection is important as frost can damage buds and new growths.
Spraying Vaporgard (The spray on frost protection) only works well on plants with leaves and till your roses gain some new leaves there is no point of using it. The Liquid Copper will do nicely.
Wallys Liquid Copper is used at only 3.5 mls per litre as to the instructions on the bottle. It is an imported commercial copper that orchardists use. Don't be mislead by another liquid copper which is used at 10mls per litre. (chalk and cheese when it comes to protection)
Moss is likely to be appearing in lawns and elsewhere and the best control for it is Surrender.
Surrender is a more economical purchase from Stock and Station Agents in one litre containers.
Some gardeners use sulphate of iron for moss control in lawns and wonder why the moss keeps reappearing. This is because the sulphate of iron only blackens off the tops of the moss without wiping it out completely. Save your money and invest in a one litre bottle of Surrender. It can control the reappearance for several months. (If you use it right)
July is also the month to begin germinating seeds of the hardier vegetables and flowers.
It is too early to plant out in the open, vegetable seedlings as they are likely sit and then go to seed when the weather warms up.
Flowers is a different matter as you want them to flower early.
Seed potatoes are now available in Garden Centres and these can be purchased to sprout and greened up for planting out later.
Do not apply fertilisers this month but dried blood around your polys, primulas and pansies will increase the leaf and flower colour to advantage.
July is the preparation month for gardening this season.
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Birds are generally loyal, and if the gardener can attract them to the garden in winter, many will try to stay nearby when rearing their young in spring.
Chunks of fat nailed to fruit trees or deciduous trees will attract whiteyes, particularly useful little birds. But most birds like fat in winter, a quick source of energy during the short days of winter. Partially melting some mutton fat and stirring in some birdseed, setting in a small plastic mould and then pinning that to the branches of a tree will attract seed-eaters as well as insectivorous species. Remember, even seed-eaters are insectivorous when feeding their young.
Chaffinches, goldfinches, blackbirds and thrushes -- even sparrows and starlings -- can all help the gardener in spring. All these birds rear their young on insects. Count up the number of small caterpillars, moths and butterflies needed by a hungry brood of five young in only one day. And the whiteyes love the aphids which attack the roses too.
A few old apples, damaged by codlin, perhaps, can be left under the apple trees to attract hedgehogs. With the thrushes they will reduce the number of snails and slugs as well. The birds may attack your polys and damage the flowers, especially the blue flowers.
You can still have the birds and prevent damage to the flowers with Bird Repeller Ribbon.
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Many gardeners use their skills to produce a meal or two of early potatoes, those waxy little ones which seem to go so well with the first salads of the season. In most gardens, even own-your-own flats, this may be tried now, using one of those plastic buckets which can be obtained so cheaply these days. Punching a few holes in the base for drainage is easy and the bucket may be used for this for a few seasons in succession.
A handful of gravel or small stones in the bottom will provide drainage, and left-over potting mix from last year's bulbs can be used if a handful or two of sheep manure pellets or blood and bone is added and mixed in.
A sprouted seed potato of an early cultivar is best, one left over from last year in the garage perhaps which has greened to the stage where it cannot be used in the kitchen.
Greened potatoes have a harder skin which is resistant to many fungal diseases. An excellent potato to use is the new one called Rocket, these take only 60 odd days to maturity from planting if growing conditions are good.
Next take your seed potato and plant it well under the surface in firmed potting mix and put the bucket in a conservatory, glassed-in verandah or room with large windows.
Sprinkle a few grains of Ocean Solids on top of the mix and a little Simalith, water in with MBL.
Keep moist but not wet. The warmth should soon encourage the seed spud to shoot quickly.
The bucket -- or a couple if you like -- should be put out when the sun shines, and taken in under shelter when the weather threatens. Rain won't matter as long as it is not cold rain from a southerly. Make sure it is under shelter if frost threatens.
The solo spud -- or both if you plant two buckets -- should develop flowers and as soon as the petals drop a nice meal of real early potatoes will be ready when the haulms start to yellow off.
Gardeners who don't have enough room to plant potatoes in the garden can still enjoy a meal of real new potatoes long before they are available in the shops at a reasonable price.
In fact it would not be silly to do up half a dozen buckets or so.
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Keen gardeners always like to be the first ones with ripe tomatoes each season and to achieve this goal they will go to great ends. So what do these dedicated tomato growers do, to beat the rest of the gardeners by often several months?
Well about this time of the year they are starting off their early tomato plants, conditions are starting to improve as the day light hours get longer and tomatoes will respond to this if protected from the cold.
Fortunate gardeners will find the odd garden centre with young tomato plants and in some cases the new seasons Supertom tomato plants. If you cant find some young plants then you are already about 4 to 6 weeks behind in trying to raise plants yourself from seed.
Once you have your plants, and it pays only to have one or two this early in the season.
They will be available in small pots in most cases, these should be gradually potted up into larger pots. Repot only into a pot about one and a half times larger than the previous container.
Repotting into a container too large increases the risk of overwatering.
The tomatoes in their pots should be grown in a conservatory, a very sunny window or similar. If you have a glass house that's excellent as long as you cover the plants each night with frost cloth or even better spray them with Vaporgard.
. Great care must be taken to keep the plants a little on the dry side as too much water will stunt growth and bring on diseases. Small qualities of food are needed and there are some very specialized ones available from garden centres such as Walllys Secret Tomato Food.
One of the main advantages of this slow release fertilizer is that its not temperature operative, in other words it releases at low temperatures.
The aim of these early tomato plants is to grow them on in containers until the weather permits them to be planted out into the garden or grown in 45 plus litre containers as a potted plant.
By this time they should have set fruit and the early summer days will ripen the fruit giving you some very early tomatoes and the pride of beating your friends and neighbours.
It certainly takes a bit of work and lots of care, but that's what real keen gardeners are happy to do.
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July is the month when most green manure crops are dug under. But the timing is not critical, as long as there is a reasonable gap between digging under and sowing or planting the subsequent crop.
When a heavy green crop is dug under, bacteria start to work on the foliage and stalks to break down the hard lignin as well as the softer tissues.
To do this they draw nitrogen from the soil, and if seeds have been sown or young plants set out, these may suffer from lack of nitrogen. The products of swift decomposition are also inimical to good growth by healthy roots, so once again living plants in the area can suffer.
The minimum time between digging under and planting out is said to be six weeks in winter, less in warmer summer conditions. But I have dug under a green crop of lupins one weekend and planted a crop of potatoes the following weekend, to gain an excellent harvest.
I think the stricture about leaving plenty of time for decomposition applies more to sowing seeds and setting out very young seedlings.
There is much more leeway when planting hardy crops like potatoes or planting newly arrived rose bushes, for instance.
Even when the area is intended for acid loving plants like potatoes or tomatoes, I prefer to scatter around some lime on the newly dug soil after burying a green manure crop. Acidity tends to build up after digging under, and most gardeners will be rewarded with the sight of many earthworms on turning over the soil if there is adequate lime in it.
A soil drench of Thatch Busta and MBL after digging in will speed up the breakdown period to half.
To make life easier with tall growing green crops; first cut the crop down near ground level with a weed eater, rotary mower or hedge clippers. Next spray the cut foliage with Thatch Busta and MBL.
Now dig in the crop.
Before planting out sprinkle Ocean Solids and Simalith over the area and lightly rake into the soil.
These products are mineral rich and will greatly aid the health of your plants and on vegetable crops will place the valuable minerals into your food chain.
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Winter is the time when deciduous fruit trees are lifted from the nursery plots and transported to garden centres all over the country for display and purchasing.
The reason that they are lifted in winter is because they are dormant and transplant successfully at this time. This also means if you have any plants you would like to move in your gardens, now is the ideal time to do so. Plants can include evergreens and other deciduous plants such as roses.
Often plants like roses become too shaded over time because of other plants foliage blocking light.
With roses the less light, the less flowering to the point of no flowers at all. If you have a rose that is not performing well and it does not receive a good amount of direct sunlight for most of the day, then move it to a better spot.
With fruit trees it is a matter as to what fruit do you and your family enjoy the most.
There is no much point growing a quince tree if you are not a quince user/eater unless you have a lot of room and require a collection of a least one tree of every type of fruit, suitable for your area.
The most popular fruit trees would be plums, feijoa, pears, grapes and citrus.
Stone fruit such as peaches, nectarines, cherries and apricots plus apples are popular but because of pest or disease problems many people opt to buy the fruit rather than grow their own.
Pest insects are not difficult to control if you go the right way about it and from studies that I have done the instance of disease problems can be reduced by applications of mineral rich products such as Ocean Solids and Simalith. When these products are applied to the root zone of the fruit trees, the trees can take up any minerals and elements that they require for full health.
Not only can you achieve a disease free tree, the produce gathered will have the added advantage to your health of the minerals.
Existing trees and fruiting plants can be treated with the same mineral products and over time should become healthy and disease free. Now days we have three types of gardens, small block holders, average to large size sections and small sections.
The former land owners are often keen to grow as many fruit trees as possible seeking ample fruit for their needs and having surplus for sale. If these gardeners grow their fruit with natural nutrients in what is called organic, then they can command a better return from sales.
An acre of land can allow for a good size orchard which adds a lot of value to the property.
When planting out an orchard of numerous trees, two things should be done. Stagger the lines of trees so that one tree does not shadow the tree behind it when mature. The second aspect is not to plant the same variety of trees near each other.
For instance with apples if all the apple trees are planted in a block then if codlin moth attacks one the rest will also be affected. If you plant apples well apart with other fruit trees separating each of the apple trees, then if one tree should get attacked by the pest you only have to control that tree not all the apple trees.
Codlin moth do not normally travel far to find a host tree and in country areas which are free of the pest you are a bit unlucky to ever have a problem develop.
At the other end of the scale we have home owners with small sections that do not have the room for planting even a few fruit trees. If you are in this situation, should you miss out on being able to harvest some of your own fresh fruit? The answer is no.
There are always ways and means around any problem.
I for one grow a number of fruit trees and fruiting plants in containers in an area that would likely only support 2 or 3 ground planted trees of the same types. Container planted fruiting plants don't give a big crops like their ground planted ones; they just don't get to that size.
Instead you have a nice crop of a few to several kilos from each compact tree. Easy to manage and spray if the need arises and likely little waste from surplus fruit.
The containers that I use are not fancy in fact they are either free or very cheap to obtain.
Plastic rubbish tins are available for often about $10.00 each and these do not look out of place in a garden setting with a fruit tree growing in them. If you search around you are likely to find used 200 litre plastic drums that are either free or very cheap to buy. As long as they have not contained some toxic substance originally, then they are safe to grow in.
One drum becomes two 100 litre containers when cut into two equal halves with a electric key hole saw.(Drill a hole in the side of the drum to get the saw started)
The drums can also be cut down the middle, length ways to make two troughs which can be used for herbs, vegetables and fruiting bushes like raspberries or strawberries. (great way to recycle these drums)
Drainage holes need to be drilled and one of those drill saw attachments making holes about 4 to 5 cm in diameter are ideal.
I don't place any holes in the bottom part of the container unless I intend to partly bury the container and allow the roots to enter the soil below.
Instead the drainage holes are placed near the bottom, on the sides of the container.
This leaves about 6 cm of area at the base to hold surplus water, which reduces watering in the summer. For a growing medium do not use any type of potting mix, they are two expensive and will not give you good results. Instead purchase bags of compost that are friable animal manure based compost. You add to this compost clean top soil or worm casts (about 10 to 20%) If you can obtain chook manure or other animal manures add about 15% of them.
The balance will be the compost. The following products can also be sprinkled in; a bit of garden lime, dolomite, Gypsum, sheep manure pellets, blood and bone. Mix all well together in a wheel barrow and then fill your container to the correct planting height with the mix. Sit your bare rooted fruit tree (or removed from the container it was purchased in) on top of the mix. Back fill to the height which the tree was in the planter bag.
When completed the level of mix and the base of the trunk should be about 6 to 8 cm below the rim of the container. This gives a good area to make watering easy and to add future nutrients. If your tree is tall it may need a stake initially and if so, this should be placed into the mix before the tree is planted and then plant the tree next to the stake.
In the spring when your deciduous tree starts to show signs of bud movement sprinkle a little Ocean Solids and Simalith on top of the mix. It would also be a good time to spray the tree with Liquid Copper. With an evergreen citrus or feijoa tree the Ocean Solids and Simalith can be applied at planting up time. If the tree you purchase is a rod then remember after planting cut the top 10cms off the top of the rod.
This is to encourage branching. The same can be applied to any branches of a deciduous branched tree, but in these cases only remove a couple of centimetres off any one branch.(If needed)
Never expect a new year to produce a crop in the first season. It can happen that a few fruit will set but ideally these should be removed when small to encourage branch and foliage growth only.
In fact the more leaves that your new tree can produce will increase the rooting of the tree and thus bigger crops earlier. To achieve this, leave all branches on the tree, even the spindly ones and tip all branches. This will cause a lot of branches and foliage and in later years many of these branches can be removed leaving the main ones for foliage and fruit bearing.
One of the big advantages in container grown fruit trees is that they are mobile and you can move them around as you desire and also take them with you if you shift house.
For a small outlay you can obtain great returns for many years growing your own health giving fruit.
It takes normally 3 to 5 years to obtain reasonable sized crops so the sooner you start the better off you will be.
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Gardeners that grow plants such as tomatoes in the soil of glasshouses, or in that perfect spot outdoors, year after year, often have concerns about the build up of diseases in the soil.
The question is, ‘how well founded are these fears?’ There is a good amount of truth in the rotation theory, which you should grow tomatoes in a three year cycle. This would mean that you would need three separate glasshouses or three perfect spots outdoors. Not feasible for most of us.
To overcome the problem a number of gardeners diligently dig out the soil from their glasshouse or favourite site every winter, replacing the soil with a mix of compost and fresh top soil.
This is a lot of digging and wheelbarrow work, go for it if you need the exercise.
Diseases and rots are the recyclers of Nature. When a plant is in stress for some reason such as; lack of moisture, sunlight or some minerals, its natural immune system is weakened. The reverse can also apply; too much moisture, sunlight and excessive amounts of some minerals or elements can also cause stress.
Plants are just like us humans, put them into stress and they are prone to attacks of diseases.
When a annual plant reaches maturity and produces the seeds for future plants it has come to the end of its days and will die. The dying or decay process is aided by rots and diseases to break down the cells and tissue, converting them to humus. The diseases then lay dormant in spores waiting for the next victim. This is all a natural process and one that you can reduce by applying hygiene practices.
When a plant finishes its time then the plant is completely removed from the area, roots and all.
When this is not done, then disease spores will build up in the surrounding soil and can affect future crops of the same plant if and when they become stressed for some reason.
Gardeners that follow the simple rules of growing plants naturally, without the use of chemicals to kill the soil life, will likely grow crops every year without any problems. These gardeners ensure that their plants have ample minerals, moisture and light.
To further ensure the health of the plants, products such as Mycorrcin, MBL and Perkfection are applied, regularly or as required.
When it comes to growing plants such as tomatoes we want to be doubly sure that the plants will mature and produce all those tomatoes we require. It is a sad event when the tomatoes reach the stage of fruiting and then a disease strikes wiping out some or the entire crop.
Many gardeners will do anything thing they can to prevent this happening.
This is the reason for digging out and moving the old soil and replacing it with new.
There are three ways to sterilize the soil and reduce the instance of disease spores.
The first is a chemical called Basamid, a granular soil fumigant from the chemical group, Thiadiazine containing 970g/kg of dazomet. If you choose to use the product, read and follow the instructions on the label taking all precautions.
It will kill fungus and many soil diseases, seeds, insects and any living plants that come into contact with the chemical. It is also very harmful to beneficial soil life and yourself. It is not cheap to buy either.
Secondly the old method of using diluted Jeyes Fluid was very popular with many gardeners but these days it is a product that is hard to find except in commercial quantities. A firm in Invercargill has made this disinfectant available under the name ‘Natures Mate’ in a 500ml bottle. It is mainly available in the lower South Island. Used at 80ml to 10 litres of water to saturate one square metre of soil in the garden.
In a glasshouse use 160 ml to 10 litres of water for one square metre of soil.
This means the 500 ml bottle will only do 3 square metres of soil in a glasshouse. Retailing about $15.00 makes it dear when compared to Basamid which does 10 square metres.(retail about $40)
The third way is to use potassium permanganate (condys crystals). This oxidizing chemical was used with another chemical by nurserymen, in days gone by to completely fumigate a glasshouse.
The method that was used is not safe to mention as it was very dangerous when the two chemicals are mixed together. Potassium permanganate can safely be used with sodium chloride (common salt) and it is the best control that I am aware of for club root disease. (Note the other two methods above have no effect on club root spores what-so-ever.)
The recipe for club root is three quarters of a teaspoon of potassium permanganate with 3 dessert spoons of salt dissolved in one litre of hot water. This is then added to 9 litres of water and one litre is poured into the planting hole of any brassica. Very effective even if your soil is riddled with club root and you cant grow cabbages etc because of the disease.
To use for general soil sterilizing I would suggest one and half teaspoons (about 10 grams) of potassium permanganate with six dessert spoons of salt into one litre of hot water then added to another 9 litres of water after the salts have dissolved.
Apply this to 10 square metres of moist soil. (Not wet soil) Leave for about 7 to 14 days and then flood the area with water to wash the salts away.
Potassium permanganate is available from many garden centres in a 150 gram jar for about $6 to $7.00. That is enough to do about 150 square metres. Potassium permanganate is available from some chemists but very expensive in comparison.
For gardeners that want to be really sure that their soil is as free as possible of diseases then they need to populate the soil with beneficial bacteria and aggressive fungi that zap any baddies present.
This is simply done by brewing up Micro-Life 4/20 in a 10 litre bucket of water.
For brewing you need a aquarium heater and air pump. Brewed for 24 hours at 25 to 30 degrees the original freeze dried populations of micro organisms multiply into the zillions.
After 24 hours you take one litre of the brew and add to 10 litres of water to drench about 10 square metres of soil. This is best done a day before planting your tomato plants.
Then you take another litre of the brew and add to 2 litres of water to spray the plants and soil after planting. The remainder of the brew not used in the glasshouse or that preferred spot for tomatoes, can be used to great advantage over the vegetable, fruit and rose gardens plus the compost heap.
(The brew must be used within 3 days of brewing) The beneficial micro organisms that you will be putting into the soil and over the plants will greatly increase their health this season.
After using Micro-Life 4/20 do not use any chemical fungicides, insecticides or herbicides in those areas. (These chemicals kill the goodies) Small applications of water soluble fertilisers can be used and watered in with MBL.
Remember to apply the annual application of Ocean Solids, Simalith and BioPhos to the same gardens to provide all the elements that plants need for full health.
A two weekly spray of the soil and plants with Mycorrcin and MBL will continue to feed the micro organisms from the Micro-Life brew. They will continue breaking down nutrients for the plants, increase the root zone of the plants by several times over, prevents disease spores getting to the roots and build up the humus levels of the soil.
On the foliage they colonise the leaves, preventing the establishment of disease spores that land on the foliage. (The bus is full, there is no room, try a plant next door) Inside the plant they are similar to the good bacteria that live inside our bodies, doing those jobs that ensure high health levels.
To sum up, you may do nothing and have good crops; you may choose one of the methods to sterilize the soil to be safer.
Gardeners that wish to be extra sure give the soil and plants, a dose of beneficial micro organisms.
Your plants and gardens, you choose.
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Many of us gardeners like to grow our own sweet corn each summer. There is nothing better than to pick the fresh cobs, bake them in their sheaths for a short time, then remove the sheath to reveal the fresh cobs. A little butter and salt gives one a wonderful dish.
(Note, cooking the corn in its sheath or leaves without removal of the leaves, keeps all the flavour and goodness in. Its a trick that a Chinese market gardener told me about some years ago)
Would you still want to grow and enjoy your home grown sweet corn if the corn seed you purchased was GE modified and could, when grown and cooked, give you and your family either Alzheimer’s or diabetes? The answer would most likely be no.
How could this come about you may ask? Well according to the NZ watchdog web site on Genetic Engineering, Giant Experiment,
‘Monsanto is trying to sneak GE corn into our food supply.
FSANZ is about to recommend to its Ministerial Council (which makes the final decision) that genetically engineered high lysine corn be approved for human consumption.’
The web site further states: “In essence, FSANZ has not assessed whether the corn is safe for humans by considering what will happen to it when it is cooked. Instead it has only considered data pertaining to uncooked corn, because its primary purpose is for use as animal feed.
Some of the lysine, when cooked, will combine with sugars in the corn to form substances (known as AGEs) which are implicated in causing various diseases such as Alzheimer’s and diabetes.
The risk here is additional to the usual risks of unknown effects of GE.
High lysine corn would be risky even if it were conventionally bred.
Furthermore, FSANZ compared the high lysine corn with another genetically engineered corn rather than with a conventional corn.
This is contrary to its own stated procedures. It is supposed to compare the new variety with conventional varieties prepared in the same way (cooked or uncooked).
Also, the approval, if given, would extend to hybrids of the high lysine corn with other types of corn.”
This is where it can affect us gardeners, cross pollination to conventional corn, giving us corn seed that is high in lysine.
I cannot see anywhere in the world where any types of GE modified plants have not caused problems, so unless we are a few marbles short in the old thinking chamber, why even consider it?
If its allowed to happen I for one will be taking corn off my growing list and completely out of my diet.(while I am still able to remember)
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Yes on the 21st of June the Northern hemisphere had their summer solstice and we, our winter solstice.
The shortest day means the longest night which also equates to the shortest hours of natural light.
Plants are really effected by these short light hours and one of the main reasons that growth is so slow during the middle of winter. Give plants 24/7 of light and they never stop growing.
Over the next few weeks your garden plants will start to respond to the increasing amount of light each day. Buds will start to swell as we enter into spring. June is also the beginning of the new year of gardening and the time for you to start for another season.
The first thing to do is to make a list of what you are going to grow this season in annual flowers and vegetables. Seed potatoes wont be far away for instance.
Once you have your list, then you can visit your local garden centre and pick out the packets of seeds of the plants you wish to grow. The hardy types can be started anytime now, for planting out after they are hardened off. The time frame from obtaining seeds, germinating, pricking out, growing on and then hardening off is about 8 weeks or more. That takes us into August and a nice early start.
Cabbages, lettuce, silverbeet are good early choices to start now. Here is a extract from a gardening book that I am writing for release in September that can help.
“Being the keen gardeners that many of us are, we use methods to beat the system.
For instance a length of plastic film (growers plastic) and a number of lengths of No 8 wire can be used to start of seeds or seedlings early in spring. You bend the wire to form good sized loops which are placed about every 30cm into the prepared soil. The top of the loop should be about 30 cm above soil level. The distance between, where each end of the loops enter the ground, should be between 30 to 40 cm.
Lay your plastic film along the row of loops on the prevailing wind side, cover the plastic edge thats laying on the ground (out side of the loops) with soil.
Now along the row, under the loops sow your dwarf beans, carrots or parsnips etc. Once sown and lightly watered in with MBL, bring the plastic over the hoops and secure to the ground with lengths of old 100x50mm (4 x 2)wood. The ends of this low tunnel house are also secured with wood.
On sunny days there will be a build up of condensation inside the plastic which is not healthy if allowed to happen, day after day. So you remove the wood and fold back the plastic to the earth side of the row, for a couple of hours, on nice sunny days.
The shelter and sun trap the plastic offers, warms the soil and your seeds germinate. The plastic allows the plants to establish quicker and can be left on till the plant’s foliage come near to touching the plastic.
It is important that you do pull back the plastic on sunny days for a few hours. A few days before removing the plastic for good, you need to harden up the plants and a spray of Vaporgard is ideal for this.
This method is a cheap way to grow rows of vegetables or flowers quickly, early in the season or sometimes late in the season for some crops.”
The above is designed to do in a month or so but you can construct it any time and start to warm the soil under the plastic to later plant seeds. Seedlings obtained from garden centres now, can be planted under this tunnel of plastic, where they will grow much quicker and give you early crops of vegetables or flowers.
The plastic will give you protection from bird damage but slugs and snails maybe able to get to the plants so spray the seedlings and soil under the plastic with Liquid Copper.
A layer about 1cm deep of sawdust around the seedlings and over the ground under the plastic can help. Spray the sawdust with the Liquid Copper and Raingard about every 2 weeks.
Birds are hungry at this time and you will likely find that the flowers of your polyanthus are being eaten, especially the blue ones. Place some Bird Repeller Ribbon to protect the flowers and else where throw out bread or cheap grain to feed the poor hungry birds.
As I have free ranging chooks in my back yard there are big populations of sparrows and other birds that wait in the trees at 8 am and 4 pm, which are the times the chooks get feed their mash or wheat.
I even have a fantail that comes inside each day. It loves the mirrors and spends a lot of time talking to the fantail in the mirror.
Germinate hardy seeds in punnets on a sunny windowsill in a warm room. As soon as there is a show of germinating leaves place the punnet in the glasshouse or under a plastic tunnel as described above.
When the seedlings are big enough to transplant, prick out into punnets or cell packs (even better) and grow on till they are big enough to place in the garden under another plastic tunnel.
This will give you a great early start.
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The new seasons lillies are currently available in garden centres. They are normally planted out, from May to September, but should be planted as soon as the bulbs are purchased. The reason for this is that the bulbs never completely stop growing. It can be fatal if they are allowed to dry out.
Existing bulbs need not be lifted unless the clumps have become too congested and this is normally done about every 4 to 5 years. Division is done at this time of the year while they are semi-dormant and the soil is moist.
Carefully dig around the clump so that you can lift the whole clump, bulbs, roots and soil.
Place the lifted clump on newspapers or a sack and starting on the outside carefully separate the bulbs with as much of their roots as possible. Some root loss will occur but as long as each bulb has a reasonable amount of roots they should be fine. As you separate the bulbs place them into one of three piles, small, medium and large. (DO NOT ALLOW THE BULBS TO BECOME DRY)
The large bulbs will go back into the garden after re-vitalizing the soil where they came out of. Use compost mixed into the soil, a bit of Simalith or Ocean Solids, some blood and bone along with Fruit and Flower Power. Space the large bulbs about 16cm apart giving room for new clumps to form.
The medium size bulbs would be ideal for containers where they may flower this coming Xmas or the next. Use a mix of friable compost with a bit of soil added in along with the other products mentioned above, planted about 8cm apart so you can have a few bulbs in a larger container.
The small bulbs are best planted in a nursery bed either in a spare bit of garden or in a tray that is about 8cm or more deep. The spacing of these need be only a couple of centimeters apart. The nursery bed preparation is similar to above. When these small bulbs have grown larger, they can be transplanted one winter into pots and later into gardens.
The only nitrogen fertiliser to use is blood and bone when planting and not to use any sheep manure, cattle or fowl manure. The reason for this is that even through the bulbs need food, they don't want too much nitrogen as this can cause excessive growth and lack of flowers.
A very important aspect of growing lilies, is if you cut the flowers later on in the year, then it is a must to leave at least one third of the stem on the bulb with the leaves intact.
The reason why some gardeners don't have flowers every year is because they have been too ruthless in cutting long stemmed flowers, leaving little or no foliage. The foliage is the way the bulb gathers energy from the sun.
Simple rule, "No leaves, No Flowers, Few leaves, Few Flowers" The solution for those that want to cut long stems of flowers is, to have a good number of bulbs planted of each type and cut flowers off one third of the plants each season.
When you don't cut the flower stems (but you can dead head them, when the flowers are going off) leaving all the stem with its leaves on till they go yellow, then the following season you will likely have a lot more flowers on the same bulb.
You can also enhance the energy of the bulbs by spraying the remaining foliage after cutting, with Vaporgard as this protects the leaves from UV and they make more energy for the bulb.
One spray of Vaporgard is all that is needed for the season as it protects for 3 months.
There is often no need to use other sprays, but if attacked by Botrytis ( which looks a bit like black spot on the lilies) use Liquid Sulphur. Or as internal protection, spray Perkfection monthly.
If aphids or scale are noticed then spray with Neem Tree Oil and Key Pyrethrum. Do not however use the Liquid Sulphur and Neem Tree Oil together or within at least 2 weeks of each other.
If you wish to have patio Lilies (individual lilies in pots) then for dwarf lilies use a 15 cm pot, Oriental lilies a 20 cm pot. Water 2 to 3 times a week or as often as needed to keep the mix moist. Re-pot every 2 years and use a slow release fertiliser, plus blood and bone (mixed into top of mix) as extra food on the year that they are not re-potted. If you lift bulbs do not store dry, replant immediately.
Examples of types include, Asiatic lilies, 'Delta' yellow with chocolate centre,
'Venture' very deep red.
Oriental, 'Black Beauty' reflexed deep red.
If you are confused by the different types currently available, this may help; Patio Lilies are especially good for growing in containers, though all lilies can be grown in suitable sized containers. Patio lilies are the dwarf ones growing to about 40 cm tall, one such one is 'Virginia' a scented Christmas flowering dwarf longiflorum. A delightful, traditional Xmas lily but in a pot version.
Ideal to plant up into nice looking terracotta pots then later to bring indoors for Xmas. Also a great idea to give later on in the year as a Xmas gift. (Now is the time to start growing your Xmas gifts)
L.A. Hybrid Lilies are a new form of lily that are slightly scented and come from a Longiflorum x Asiatic cross. They have much larger flowers than Asiatic lilies, slightly scented, quicker to flower, multiplies rapidly, more disease resistant, with huge flower buds and a whole new range of colours that flower at Xmas time. Grows about a metre tall with 150mm across flowers.
Asiatic Lilies flower in the period November to December, non-scented growing about 80cm with flowers about 100mm across. Easy to grow.
Trumpet Lilies, flower at Xmas time with medium scented, 100 mm across, 150 mm long flowers with stems growing between 1m to 1.5m.
Oriental Lilies flower later in January to March dependant on type. Real big flowers that are 200mm across and highly perfumed on 1 to 2 metre stems. Good vibrant and pastel colours.
These are ideal for a continuation of flowering in either beds or larger containers where you plant a few of each type mentioned so that you have flowers before, during and after Xmas.
As all these lilies are not oncer's you will have many years of pleasure from growing them and as they multiply you will have bigger displays. The most important thing to look for in buying lilies is that the bulbs and root systems have not dried out.
Check the packaging for this aspect. If the roots have been allowed to dry out then the bulbs will very likely fail.
It is safer to buy lily bulbs from garden centre rather than a chain store for this reason.
Chain stores have heating through air conditioning systems which dries out the air. This protects their merchandise against moisture, moulds etc. Great for all things you buy there but very bad for lily bulbs, roses and plants.
Warmth is another factor also, as it encourages new foliage on the lily bulbs. The poor bulbs in their packets do not have much room to grow and the stems will grow twisted and not straight up.
This can make them totally useless for flowering the first season.
On the other hand garden centres are normally aware of this and display the bulbs in a cooler area and when they do start to shoot either special them off, or pot them up.
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I am often asked by gardeners if they can take, the fallen autumn leaves of various trees and compost them. Generally speaking the answer is yes but there are some trees that have toxins in the fallen leaves that will hurt or kill some other plants.
The best example of this would be the Black Walnut. Mostly grown for its wood and nuts, black walnuts are often found growing on landscape sites where they serve as shade trees. When certain other landscape plants are planted near or under this shade tree they tend to yellow, wilt, and die.
This occurs because the walnut tree produces a non-toxic, colorless, chemical called hydrojuglone. Hydrojuglone is found in leaves, stems, fruit hulls, inner bark and roots. When exposed to air or soil compounds, hydrojuglone is oxidized into the allelochemical juglone, which is highly toxic.
Several related trees such as English walnut, hickories and pecan also produce juglone, but in smaller amounts compared to black walnut. Juglone is one of many plant-produced chemicals that can harm other plants in a process known as allelopathy. Additional common landscape trees with allelopathic properties include: sugar maple, American sycamore, cottonwood, black cherry, red oak, black locust and American elm. Plants include Sunflowers, Wormwood and Sagebushes.
These trees use the toxicity of their leaves to prevent competition from many other plants. Other deciduous trees may not have any toxicity in their leaves but the smoothing or mulching effect their leaf fall produces, effectively eliminates a lot of competition.
Take the common pine tree, in a pine plantation where there is still good light reaching the ground, you will not find many other plant species growing. The pine needles are acidic and their layering overtime keep most other plants at bay. Pine tree oil is the ingredient that makes the weed killer Interceptor work on killing weeds.
If you collect pine tree needles for use in the garden or compost then only use the very old dry needles deeper down under the mat of needles. These will have had much of the acid leeched out of them and be safer to use.
With any of the plants mentioned I would not go sticking them straight into the good compost heap you are currently making. Instead make a separate pile with plenty of animal manure and lime added in layers.
Drench the pile with Thatch Busta then cover with some soil and leave to naturally break down.
Plants most damaged by juglone (especially from the Black Walnut) are apple, azalea, white birch, blackberry, blueberry, chrysanthemum, autumn crocus, forget-me-not, domestic grape, lily-of-the-valley, linden, mountain laurel, peony, pine, potato, rhododendron, thyme and tomato.
Most other plants are reasonable tolerant.
Leaves of trees that are toxic to other plants can usually be placed under other well established trees as a mulch for suppressing weeds. You are using nature’s own weed killers to your advantage.
Toxic leaves will not remain toxic forever and with a separated compost such as above the leaves will become good compost. Another method is to collect any fallen leaves and shred them. The easiest way to do this is to place them on a bare patch of ground or lawn (where it does not matter) and run over them with a rotary mower. The catcher will collect the shredded leaves. Place about half a catcher full of the leaves into a black plastic rubbish bag, sprinkle about a handful of garden lime and spray with Thatch Busta. Now the other half and treat the same. If you like, add a couple of handfuls of soil to each layer.
Continue till the bag is full and the contents moderately squashed down. Tie off the top of the bag and with a 4 inch nail or similar, poke lots of holes into the bag all over. Place the bag in a sunny spot out of sight and leave for the natural break down to take place. In summer you should find a valuable source of rich leaf mould in the bags. If they have not broken down well enough leave them a bit longer.
If you have used leaves from toxic plants such as the Black Walnut then you can test the leaf mould by placing a bit into a punnet and planting some tomato seeds in the mix. If the seeds grow and the seedlings look ok then the mix is safe to use.
You don't need to shred the leaves but it does sped up the breakdown.
Another alternative is to leave the leaves where they fall if they are under trees and shrubs.
Leaves on lawns, paths and planted gardens can be raked up with a leaf rake and placed back under the trees. If you would like these leaves to break down much faster, then simply spray them with Thatch Busta. It will sped up the process by several months.
Autumn leaves of most deciduous trees are a valuable resource for gardening and container planting.
Don't throw them away and if you are keen collect them them from street trees too. (The council will love you) Don't forget to clear the leaves out of your guttering. ooooo
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The shortest day is the traditional planting time for both garlic and shallots for them to be harvested on the longest day in December. To grow either the same instructions are applicable.
Buy the starting cloves from a garden centre that has certified cloves. Other cloves maybe used but often either do not produce or produce poorly. The area must have good drainage as the cloves can rot in constantly wet soil.
Work the soil well so that it is friable. Work in a good animal manure based compost or mushroom compost. You should now have a row that has friable, composted mixed soil, to a depth of about 16cm.
With a hoe, using the corner, make a groove down the row about 5 to 6 cm deep.
In this furrow sprinkle the following at the rates recommended on the packaging.
A light dusting of a soft garden lime. Over this a sprinkling of potash, BioPhos, Simalith and Ocean Solids. If the black aphids have been a problem in the past also sprinkle Neem Tree Granules along the row.
Lightly cover these products with a little soil so the furrow is 3 cm deep. Sit your garlic or shallot cloves in this furrow so their bases are just in the soil and the points at poking at the sky.
Spacing is about 10cm apart.
Now back fill the furrow so that the cloves are just buried. The soil used should be very friable and if in doubt sieve the soil through a medium garden sieve. If you prefer they can be covered so that they are under the ground by 1 to 2 cm.
The most important aspects are, free drainage, sunny and a very friable soil for them to root into and for the bulbs to grow in.
If you would like to grow them in containers then use a mix of half and half friable top soil with animal manure based compost. Fill the container to two thirds with this mix and then sprinkle the above ingredients lightly over the mix. Cover with a bit more of the mix.
Poke the cloves bums into this and then cover with a good potting mix.
In a container plant them a bit closer together say about 6 to 7 cm apart. A polystrene box would be ideal to use and you would obtain a great crop from the fifth of a Square Metre the boxes give in growing room. (About 40 plants of garlic and about 30 of shallots.)
If later on the plants attract the black aphids you can spray the foliage with Neem Tree Oil and sprinkle some more Neem Tree Granules around the plants.
Both types root up fast and within a short time you should see signs of the foliage breaking through.
If not within a month then check the cloves for rotting.
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June is the first month of winter and a very busy month for gardeners.
This is the month when deciduous plants such as roses and fruit trees are lifted and made available for sale. Other plants which are semi-dormant such as strawberries, lillies, garlic and shallots are also planted out. There are other gardening jobs to also take care of such as cutting back to half your existing rose bushes and spraying them with Lime Sulphur for disease control. Making them ready for the proper pruning at the end of July. Strawberry runners to be lifted and planted out if required for a new bed or given to friends to start a bed off. Old plants that no longer produce well can be discarded.
It is better to start a new bed off than plant new plants into an existing bed.
Any grass grub and porina problems in the lawn, should be checked for, by lifting some turf to see what numbers are present. If you find several in a square foot then it would be worth treating. Use Neem Tree Granules.
Weeds are not such a problem in winter as they are only slowly growing. In gardens that are fairly free of other plants, you can cut the weeds down with a weed eater and then dig them in as a free fodder crop.
Lime your vegetable garden after roughly digging over the areas free of winter vegetables.
The lime and frosts will both act as soil conditioners and help break up heavy soils.
The main concern for gardeners is to not water plants too much, to cause problems.
Gardens should not require any watering, outdoor contains very little if any and indoor containers a little, seldom. Just enough to keep them alive. The later also applies to glasshouse plants if you want to keep them alive through winter. A plant in dryer soil will withstand the cold ten times better than one in wet soil. Remember to spray Vaporgard over any cold and frost tender plants to help them survive the winter better.
June is a busy time and the first month of the gardening year.
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Pruning should not be delayed too long, particularly grape vine pruning. Prune before the end of June, just in case there is a mild winter and the pruned vines start to bleed.
Bleeding -- the result of pruning after the sap has started to rise in the stem -- can be very scary to a new gardener who has never seen it before. The clear liquid pours from the cut stems on warm days, but little harm is done to the plants. They merely draw more moisture from the soil to replace the liquid lost. The sugar content of the sap so lost is very low indeed.
And remember to prune hard. Select the main rods, usually one to the right, another to the left, and prune off, right down to two buds, all other side shoots coming from these main rods.
That is the basic pruning style, but there is another style in which the longish shoots arising from the main rods are tied down hoop fashion, forming loops all along the rods.
In both cases the new shoots which will carry the grape bunches arise either from the two buds left on the rods, or from the loops along the framework rods.
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Many gardeners, especially new ones, are unwilling to tackle the pruning of their fruit trees, vines or roses. Having never done it before they are scared they will kill the plants.
No worry. Man has been pruning grapes, olives, peaches and apples for more than 4000 years. If growers in 2000 BC could learn to prune, so can you.
There are no mysteries or secrets about pruning. There are a few simple rules, and, like many gardening activities, the more you do it the more skilled you become. In no time you will be helping some other new gardener prune his or her trees. General rules are:
* Cut out all dead, diseased and wind-damaged wood;
* Give the tree, bush or rose a good shape;
* Encourage flowering and fruiting shoots;
* Look to the future and train in replacement wood.
A picture is worth a thousand words, they say, but better still is attending a pruning demonstration by a horticultural or rose society, where hands-on experience can be gained. Members are always willing to help new gardeners.
Watch the newspaper columns in this paper for advertisements of pruning demonstrations. These usually concentrate on rose and fruit tree pruning, but often include grape vine, Passionfruit, kiwifruit and small fruit pruning too.
If no demonstrations are advertised, ring up the local garden club and suggest one be staged. Or the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Agriculture New Zealand division, may be planning one, or can put the new gardener in touch with someone willing to give one-to-one tuition -- not to do it for you, but to help the amateur reach the stage where he or she can tackle the job confidently unaided.
Then, remembering the help so willingly given, once the skills have been learned, offer to help some other new gardener. That way the knowledge will be spread around, and all gardeners will benefit, new and experienced.
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Daphne are one of the top selling garden plants and every year hundreds of these wonderful, fragrant plants are sold through out New Zealand.
It is amazing that such intense fragrance could radiate from one small plant, and that a tiny cluster of flowers should possess so much charm. Daphne are easy to grow, preferring semishade and cool, lime free, friable well drained soil. When planting work generous amounts of peat moss or leaf mould mixed with sand to a depth of 45 to 60 cm.
Never plant a Daphne into a wet area or one that gets full sun all day long. It is those sorts of conditions that cause failure. There are several different types of Daphne such as Daphne O Cameo.
It has an upright growth habit to about 80cm. The flower colour is apricot/pink with flowers all along the stems with terminal clusters suitable for picking. A strong fragrance completes the picture on this most desirable plant.
Daphnes should be trimmed back after flowering is completed and you can alter the shape of the plant by pruning to inside buds to create an upright habit or prune to outside buds to achieve a more spreading effect. If leaves turn yellow on the plant then likely the drainage is not good enough but the situation can be assisted by applying sulphate of iron or Epsom salts.
Some old gardeners bury a few nails next to the plant to give a continual supply of iron. The best location for a Daphne is usually under the eaves near the back door. This is a morning sunshine area for most houses (southeast) and the soil near the house is often drier.
You also have the advantage of the strong perfume at your back door.
If you grow a Daphne in a container make sure the mix is free draining and the container is placed in a shady situation where its not going to get excessive rain.
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I received an interesting letter from a reader in Dunedin sometime ago and I would like to share it with you. Its a tip on the control of Codlin Moth.
The gardener has, for many years, sprinkled Epsom Salts around the base of his apple trees and out to the drip line. This has reduced the instance of Codlin Moth damage to the apples.
I wonder if the Epsom Salts affects the dormant grubs in some manner preventing them from emerging in the spring and damaging the apples. I would be interested to hear from any other gardeners that have used this method of control or the results if you try it.
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Shallots are grown from cloves, parts of the parent plant, like garlic -- a relative, also a member of the onion family.
Plant on the shortest day, harvest on the longest is the traditional reminder for shallots, whereas onions may need from July to January or even February to ripen properly.
Press the base of the shallot into firm soil, in straight rows to make subsequent weeding by hoe easier.
Leave about 15cm (6in) between the cloves, 30cm (1ft) between the rows. Or inter-plant with annual flowers where the bright green shoots make an attractive foil to the colours of the flowers.
A good potato fertiliser -- NPK 5-5-7 -- can be worked into the soil about the middle of September, which will help the annual bedders too if planted among them. About the first week of December bend over the tops, then lift and dry the clusters about Christmas. Store on shelves in a shed.
Shallots are often ignored by home gardeners, yet they are easy to grow and make a milder pickle than onions for those with tender stomachs.
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Written by Wally Richards.
June is the first month of winter and the month that most of the different types of strawberry plants become available in garden centres.
Strawberries are a woodland plant and the modern strawberries such as Pajaro have been bred from the original wild ones. This is important information to use when you come to plant strawberries in containers or in strawberry beds.
Strawberries therefore do best on a partly sunny situation, with ample woodland debris such as rotting leaves and decaying wood.
As there are ample fallen leaves, available at this time, you can collect these and put them through a shredder or lay them on a bit of lawn (where it does not matter) and run over them with a rotary mower.
Your catcher should be full of nicely shredded leaves. Mix with this about a similar amount of untreated sawdust for the decaying wood.
A good sprinkling of blood and bone incorporated will become your woodland mix. This should be worked into the area where you are going to plant your strawberries saving about half the woodland mix as a mulch to place around the strawberries after planting.
If you are going to plant into containers or into troughs, then add your woodland mix to an equal amount of compost/ top soil. (Two thirds compost, one third soil) Incorporate all together well for the potting medium.
Plant up your strawberry plants and then drench them with Mycorrcin, MBL and water.
The Mycorrcin has been proven in trials, to increase the yield of strawberries by 200 to 400%.
A 2 weekly spray of the plants with Mycorrcin is the on going treatment. (MBL can be added to this if you like) For those that like to obtain the most health benefits from their home grown produce, place a quarter teaspoon of Ocean Solids and half a teaspoon of Simalith under each plant in the planting hole.
For gardeners that have existing strawberries now is the time to collect the rooted runners to start off a fresh strawberry patch.
Existing plants that have done well and are free of disease can be left in the beds and drenched with the Mycorrcin.
Any plants that have not done well or have disease should be removed from the bed.
Also remove dead leaves and tidy up the bed.
In the spring you can apply the woodland mix as a mulch with any of the other products as desired.
The earlier you establish your new strawberries the better the crop you will achieve this coming season.
Late plantings in spring or early summer will never be as good as plantings now.
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There are a number of garden plants that do not like the cold or frosts, that they will have to face through the next few months.
Some also detest wet soil conditions which can led to wet weather diseases such as root rot.
Citrus trees are a good example of this, wet feet will cause root rots with the loss of leaves and crop, in some cases the loss of the tree.
Newer foliage can also be blackened by frost nipping the tree back.
All your evergreen garden plants that resent wet conditions can be assisted to cope better with a monthly spray of Perkfection.
Those plants that are cold or frost tender can then be sprayed with Vaporgard to give them frost protection down to minus 3, for 3 months, within 3 days of spraying.
If plants such as citrus are sprayed with Vaporgard after spraying with Perkfection, and you wish to spray them again with Perkfection a month later, you need to add Raingard to the later sprays, so the product can pass through the Vaporgard film.
Vaporgard works in a very interesting way, it is a natural polymerised skin which filters out UVA and UVB. Providing a sunscreen for the chlorophyll, which is normally under attack by UV light. This results in a darker green colour of the foliage within a few days of application.
The chlorophyll build-up makes the leaf a more efficient food factory producing more carbohydrates, especially glycols (anti-freeze) giving frost protection as well as stress protection from moisture loss and extra fuel for better growth and faster maturity.
A New Plymouth garden centre owner pointed out to me recently that Daphne plants that they have in about this time each year, benefit greatly from them spraying the plants with Vaporgard as soon as they arrive in. Many Daphne are open ground grown and the stress of being lifted and bagged often causes the foliage to droop. The Plants sprayed with Vaporgard prevents this. The same can be said for Rhododendrons too.
For this stress prevention, it is best to spray under and over the foliage. For the frost protection you need only spray over the foliage. If you are shifting any evergreen plants at this time you might like to try it.
Some garden centres now spray all their plants with Vaporgard at this time of the year, and spray new stock as it arrives.
They find that the plants not only look far nicer for sales but it virtually cuts out any losses of stock as well.
If you buy plants thus treated, you will find they establish far better and quicker which is what we all want. Ask your garden centre when you are buying evergreen plants at this time, if they have been sprayed with Vaporgard. If not it, pays to do so yourself before your plant them out.
The extra energy that treated plants can gather from the weaker winter sun makes a big difference.
Vaporgard allows me to keep my tamarillo and passion fruit in full foliage during an average winter here in Palmerston North. This means in the spring, the tamarillo does not have to produce new foliage before it can flower. End result is a lot more fruit earlier.
Vaporgard does a great job when there is a occasional frost, every so often, but if you have a series of frosts, night after night then the cells of the plant do not have time to heal before they are damaged again.
This results in some leaves turning black. If this happens do not remove the damaged leaves as they offer protection for foliage below, against further frosts.
For extra protection when there is a series of frosty nights you need to also cover with frost cloth, newspapers or sacks.
In really cold areas where the ground freezes in winter tender plants in many cases are cut low and covered with a good layer of straw for winter.
Succulents, palms and plants in glasshouses can be protected with a Vaporgard spray now and if need be, another in August for late frosts. Gardeners that applied a spray earlier in April in case of early frosts will need to apply another spray later this month.
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