Home' Greymouth Star : October 14th 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
In the Garden
6 - Wednesday, October 14, 2015
Spring vegetable tips
couple of years
ago, I checked
and tried to put
a dollar value
on what I was
growing. The answer made me
feel quite rich, although I did not
factor in fertiliser costs or labour.
The exercise did underline that
one way of keeping down food
costs is to grow vegetables.
Even a few plants can help:
I know an elderly woman who
each spring pops three silverbeet
seedlings among the flowers in the
tiny garden of her pensioner unit.
She says that is enough for her for
most of the year.
When starting out, school fairs,
op shops and garage sales can be
sources of cheap forks and spades.
Buy the minimum to start with
and add more items as you need
them. Where there is no vegetable
plot, or a long-neglected one, a
no-dig garden is the way to go. If
you plan to convert a lawn area
into garden, use an old knife to
cut out perennial weeds, such as
dandelions and docks, and put a
little salt on the cut stems. Where
weeds are tall, cut them down with
a weed whacker or mower and get
rid of perennial weeds.
Now lay on the ground a thick
layer of old newspapers; about
three copies of the Greymouth
Star is a good depth. An alternative
is old wool (not synthetic)
carpet, with the fuzzy side down.
Whichever you use, water it well,
then cover with anything you
can lay your hands on — lawn
clippings, leaves, annual weeds
such as chickweed and puha, the
contents of the compost bin if you
have one and a generous quantity
New Zealand soils are often
lime-deficient. As a rough guide,
use about 30g to the square metre
(a plastic laundry scoop holds
about 120g). Sprinkle the lime on
the new bed, add blood and bone
(100g to a square metre), or use
a commercial fertiliser. Buy some
bags of inexpensive potting mix to
spread on your plot, water again
and you can start planting.
The top crop for a new vegetable
bed has to be the potato. Not only
are spuds happy in almost any
soil, they do sterling ser vice in
breaking up heavy ground. True,
those that come into contact with
manure may be a bit scabby but
it does not affect their edibility.
Varieties referred to as early or
first early are the ones to plant
now. Reliable ones include cliff
kidney, rocket and swift; follow
them with the so-called “second
earlies” like karaka, maris anchor
and liseta, which store well, before
planting main-crop varieties such
as purple heart, agria, red king
and van rosa.
Cabbage, broccoli, kale and
cauliflower are also good in a new
no-dig patch. Make mesh covers
to keep white butterflies away.
Spinach, silverbeet, lettuce, celery
and fast-growing Asian vegetables
like pak choi can also be grown
but the fresh manure means some
root vegetables are off the menu.
Carrots and parsnips hate even
a trace of manure and grow into
shapes like deformed hands or
embarrassing bits of male anatomy.
Strangely, beetroot is not sensitive
to fresh manure.
For peas and runner beans, make
a fence where the plants will not
shade smaller vegetables and sow
small quantities every fortnight to
give peas over a longer period.
As you work, smile a little, not
just at the savings but because
as soon as most vegetables
are har vested, they begin to
deteriorate. Fresh is definitely
Getting the garden ready for summer heat
s we head into another
summer, it is time to take
a critical look at your
garden and decide how
you are going to prepare
it for the coming heat.
Some steps are obvious.
Check watering systems and hoses to
make sure they are working. Buy and
replace worn fittings. Remove competing
weeds and spread new mulch over garden
beds — but do not make your mulch layer
so thick and dense that it ends up acting as
a barrier to water penetration.
Next, check the actual plants and see if
it is worth removing some and replacing
them with heat-hardy varieties. There are
extensive lists of drought tolerant plants on
websites and in books.
Do not forget that every plant — no
matter how hardy — needs to be given
supplementary water in its first few weeks.
And it’s important for this water to be
applied at the base of the plant, so that it
gets into the existing root system.
Here are some drought-hardy plant
Mediterranean plants like lavender have
evolved to handle dry conditions. Many
lavender varieties are available, with a range
of flower colours in shades of mauve, lilac,
pink and white. Lavenders prefer drier
conditions and respond well to regular, light
pruning. If soil is acidic (areas where azaleas
grow well) sprinkle some garden lime or
dolomite around the base every couple of
Lots of natives that are classed as low
water users add beautiful touches to the
garden. Hebe diosmifolia forms a tidy,
compact mound that smothers itself with
lavender or white flowers in spring and
summer. And the many manuka cultivars
offer a range of sizes to suit any garden.
Because these plants are susceptible to
sooty mould caused by sap-sucking insects,
it ’s recommended that they are given a
clean-up spray in November each year with
Yates Conqueror Oil or ready-to-use Bug
Other native plants such as coprosma,
pohutukawa and karaka (Corynocarpus
laevigatus) can sur vive with little
Many of the fashionable structural plants
those that are grown for the dramatic effect
of their leaves and shape, rather than their
flowers require minimal extra watering.
Astelia, Poor Knight’s lily, cycads, yuccas
and bird of paradise are some suggestions.
Of course succulents, which have
evolved to store water, are renowned for
their drought hardiness, and there is a wide
range available these days. They do not
all look like cacti — even the gloriously
perfumed, warm climate frangipanis are
classed as succulents.
Information supplied by Yates
with Gillian Vine
PICTURES: Gillian Vine
Something to aspire to, a well laid-out vegetable patch.
Cabbage plants can be put in now.
Home-made covers keep white butterflies off cabbages and other brassicas.
Mixed lettuces in an English garden show the range of leaves and colours.
Links Archive October 13th 2015 October 15th 2015 Navigation Previous Page Next Page