Home' Greymouth Star : January 25th 2018 Contents Greymouth Star
In the Garden
he summer holiday
season is in full
swing and it is
easy to neglect
the garden then
discover you have
a jungle that an Amazon explorer
would find challenging.
With a bit of for ward planning,
some of the potential problems can
be eliminated or at least reduced,
so here are some suggestions.
The Christmas tree
If you bought a live Christmas
tree in a pot, do not leave it inside
and do not repot it or plant it in
the garden, Instead, water it really
well and find a shady spot for it
to rest until you have time to deal
with it properly.
The part of the garden that really
needs watering is the vegetable
garden. If inadequate moisture is
available to plants, they will run to
seed and the effort put into sowing
and planting is wasted.
Plant out any seedlings you
have sitting around in trays or
punnets. Apart from reducing the
stress — and losses — this ensures
winter vegetables, such as Brussels
sprouts, are in the ground in time
to give decent crops later.
Do not delay if you want new
potatoes at Easter.
Skip seed sowing if you are
heading away. Seeds need even
moisture to germinate, then careful
pricking out (or thinning if sown
directly into the place where they
are to mature), neither tasks to
dump on anyone else.
Get someone to do the
watering if you are heading away,
remembering that there are likely
to be restrictions on when and how
often hosing can be done.
Reward your helpers by letting
them har vest what they fancy,
whether it is tomatoes or turnips,
and beg them to cut courgettes as
soon as they are ready.
That ensures they will keep
producing and you will not come
home to marrow-sized specimens
which are less appetising.
In the greenhouse
Allow plenty of ventilation,
as steamy air is a killer for many
plants and encourages diseases like
As grapes start to ripen, they
need little or no water, making
Get rid of as
many weeds as
possible so they
do not produce
a million seeds
while you are
at the beach.
Do not leave
weeds on the
ground, as they
have a sneaky
habit of going
seeds in a last-
ditch effort to
foil the gardener.
If you go away,
a tidy lawn does
not advertise the
fact that you
are not home. It is worth paying
someone to keep it trim.
Set mower blades higher than
usual as this is kinder to grass if
the weather is dry.
Some gardeners like to leave the
catcher off so that clippings act as
Outdoor potted plants
Anything grown in a container
needs more watering than the same
plant in open ground. Standing
pots in water is not ideal as root rot
may result but nonetheless could
save prized specimens from death
Then, sit back, relax and enjoy
6 - Thursday, January 25, 2018
Passionfruit are a delicious
summer fruit that can be
enjoyed in salads, desserts, drinks,
sauces and of course eaten fresh.
They are a sub-tropical plant,
which basically means they need a
lot of sun (at least six hours a day)
and also like water.
They also need something to
grow on — like a trellis or similar
Passionfruit like well-drained soil
and they are also heavy feeders,
which means they need more
nutrients than your average plant.
So before you start planting, dig
in some organic matter to the soil.
It is also a good idea to pour some
slow-release citrus fertiliser in the
spot your going to plant.
Next plant each seedling around
Once planted, spread some mulch
to help retain moisture and heat in
Do not forget to water!
Ideally with passionfruit, you
want to get a good network of
vines growing across your support
and producing fruit. To do this,
start by pinching off any laterals
that grow off the main vine.
Once your main vine (leader) is
in a good position on the support
structure, pinch out the top bud
to encourage lots of side shoots
to spread sideways and then train
them across your support.
Give the plants a couple more
feeds of citrus fertiliser during
the year. And be sure to water
regularly, particularly when they
When the fruit are ready to
har vest they will go from green to
a black/deep purple colour and you
can start picking them off.
borders with ageratum
As most of us gardeners learn
over time (often through trial and
error!), some plants are suited to
some purposes better than others.
Bedding, hanging baskets, pots,
tubs, rock gardens and more. Well,
ageratum is one of the top plants
to create a floral border.
It is perfect for borders because it
grows quite densely and it does not
grow too tall. With two varieties of
ageratum — blue and pink — they
both grow to a height of 20cm
and are also good for growing in
bedding, window boxes and rock
Plant in full sun to semi-shade
spots in the garden and plant each
one around 20cm apart. Ageratum
can cope with pretty dry conditions
but it will do better if you water it
Depending on the weather where
you are, in around four to eight
weeks you can expect to see this
easy-care plant flower.
Supplied by Awapuni Nurseries
Summer is tomato
Related to spiders, two spotted mites
are tiny pinkish red sap sucking pests
that cause mottled yellow or bronzed
foliage and distorted leaves and flower
Large colonies can produce masses of
fine webbing and a severe infestation can
lead to tomatoes losing much of their
After overwintering in protected
places, mites are active during hot dry
weather, when the life cycle for eggs to
adults is completed in a week, so they
can multiply very quickly.
In addition to tomatoes, mites can also
affect other veggies like capsicum, beans,
squash, cucumber and zucchini.
As mites dislike humid conditions,
overhead watering is a useful deterrent
and regular sprays of Natrasoap veggie
insect gun can also help reduce mite
populations. It is a soap based spray that
is certified for use in organic gardening.
The soap coats the mites, causing them
to desiccate. Make sure to thoroughly
coat the leaves on both the upper and
lower leaf surfaces as the spray works via
Continue to feed tomato plants each
week with a specific tomato liquid plant
food. It will help sustain both healthy
leaf growth and flowering and fruiting
It is easy to apply, just mix 1-2
capfuls into a 9 litre watering can. It
is important to keep watering tomato
plants thoroughly to ensure the soil is
Inadequate or irregular watering, which
contributes to calcium deficiency, can
predispose tomato fruit to develop a
disorder called blossom end rot.
Tomatoes taste better when vine
ripened however really hot weather can
scorch or even cook the tomatoes on
the vine. So during scorching weather
har vest tomatoes just as you see a blush
of colour and ripen the fruit indoors on
a bright windowsill or in a paper bag
along with a banana to encourage the
tomatoes to ripen.
For the love of
Salads, sandwiches and wraps would
not be complete without the not so
humble lettuce and ‘cut and come again’
lettuces are perfect for giving you an
ongoing supply of leafy goodness.
Lettuce ‘frilly mix’ is a colourful blend
of dark green and maroon-red frilled
lettuces that are easy to grow and
individual leaves can be picked as you
need them. Sow seed direct where the
lettuces are to grow or raise in trays of
seed raising mix and transplant when the
seedlings are 3-4cm high.·
Lettuce ‘frilly mix’ can be grown in
a sunny veggie patch or in pots. A pot
positioned on a deck or courtyard, not
too far from the kitchen, makes it super
convenient to harvest. Keep the soil
moist while the seedlings establish.
If the plants are closer than 20cm, you
may need to thin them out. There is no
need to waste these thinnings — if you
lift them out carefully you can transplant
them into another spot.
As the lettuces grow, water them
regularly and every 1-2 weeks apply
some Natural fish and seaweed fertiliser.
It is a unique complete and balanced
liquid fertiliser that contains a rich
combination of organic ingredients like
fish, seaweed, humates, microbes and
molasses and boosted with fast acting
nutrients to boost plant growth.
Dilute 1 to 2 capfuls in a 9 litre
watering can and apply over the lettuces
and surrounding root zone. Har vest
individual lettuce leaves regularly, which
will encourage them to grow more fresh
Lettuce pest watch: keep an eye out
for snails and slugs, which love eating
through lettuces. Control snails and
slugs by scattering some Blitzem pellets
over the soil around the lettuce plants.
Let ’s talk manure!
Healthy soil is the foundation of
a great garden, so it is important to
continually include soil improvement in
your gardening plans.
Adding organic matter is a fantastic
way to improve the health of the soil in
your veggie patch and one of the ways
you can do this is by growing a green
A green manure crop is leafy foliage
that is grown and mixed back into the
soil, rather than being harvested, adding
lovely organic matter to the soil. If
you are going away over the summer
holidays, growing a green manure crop
in your veggie patch is a much better
option than leaving it bare and provides
a low maintenance way to fill the patch
and reduce the chance of it being
infested with weeds by the time you
Gently cultivate the top few
centimetres of soil to break it up and
then mix in some blood and bone.
Certified for use in organic gardening
it is a rich source of organic nutrients
that will gently feed the green manure
crop as it establishes. Mix some ‘green
manure’ seeds into the soil. Bird seed
and a packet of pea or bean seeds makes
for an inexpensive and foliage rich green
manure crop. Keep the area moist while
the plants establish.
After 2-3 months, before the plants
flower, cut the plants close to the ground
and then dig all the foliage and roots
into the soil. Mulch over the top with
pea straw or lucerne hay and the green
manure plants will break down and
enrich the soil, ready for the next crop of
home grown veggies.
Whether it is preparing your lawn
for the festive season and holidays or
helping it recover from backyard games
and parties, here are some summer lawn
care tips to help create a beautiful lush
Give the lawn a good feed — a
lovely green lawn is very inviting, so to
encourage deep green growth apply a
lawn food that has organic nutrients to
help green up the lawn and concentrated
organic matter to help promote long
term soil health.
Aeration — if your lawn has been
well and truly ‘loved’ over summer and
been trampled by lots of happy feet (and
paws) then it will benefit from being
aerated. Aeration will help loosen up
hard and compacted soil underneath
the lawn, make it easier for water and
air to penetrate down into the roots and
makes it physically easier for grass roots
Aerating the lawn is as easy as pushing
a garden fork down through the grass
around 10cm deep into the soil, then
gently lever the fork back and forth a
little to open up the holes the fork tines
have made. Do this multiple times over
Supplied by Yates
There is no hurry to repot a Christmas tree.
Keep courgettes picked when small.
A tidy lawn does not advertise your absence.
Ventilation is vital for a greenhouse.
with Gillian Vine
Jobs to do
Passionate about passionfruit
Frilly mix lettuce
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