Home' Greymouth Star : February 13th 2014 Contents Greymouth Star
In the Garden
Thursday, February 13, 2014 - 7
Summer might be coming to an end but
February's often the hottest month in the
Water with care --- preferably in the early
morning --- and enjoy this month of maximum
Veggies to sow
Spring onions are easy veggies and, with their
slightly grey leaves, they're attractive enough to be
interspersed among the ornamentals in the garden.
Start your spring onions in the protective shade of
low growing plants and allow them to grow up into
the full sun.
Flowers to sow
Shirley poppies are improved forms of the wild
poppies that decorate European elds. Some of
their single and semi double owers even have frilly
edges. Sow seed now into pots of seed raising mix.
February's the ideal month to feed citrus and fruit
trees. Dynamic Lifter fruit food, a great blend of
organic and inorganic, will enhance fruiting and
bene t the soil. Feed roses with ower food to
encourage a spectacular autumn display.
Prune stone fruit trees, such as plums and peaches,
in February, making sure you wait until you have
nished harvesting late cropping varieties.
Weeds are abundant in February. Spray unwanted
weed growth using a sheet of cardboard to shield
wanted garden plants from the spray.
Vegetables in the cucurbit family --- cucumbers,
pumpkins, zucchinis, melons --- are very prone
to powdery mildew disease in late summer. Spray
younger plants with Yates Nature's Way Fungus
Spray, but, with older plants that are past their best,
pick remaining fruit and then discard.
Watering is a major job for February. Watering is
best done in the early morning but, if you have to
do it at night, try to water the soil, rather than the
plant. is keeps leaves dry and reduces the risk of
In February bulbs start to appear in the shops.
Buy early to get the best but wait until soil is cool
before planting. In warmer areas cold climate bulbs
such as da odils, tulips, hyacinths and crocus can
go into the fridge for a pre-planting chilling. Put
them into paper bags in the crisper and leave them
for at least two months.
Plant of the month
Tomatoes are in such abundance in February that
it can be hard to keep up with them. Use them to
make tomato sauce or keep your friends happy by
sharing the excess. Continue feeding plants with
Yates rive Concentrate Tomato Food. Yates
Nature's Way fruit and veggie gun will take care of
most tomato pests and diseases
Adding flavour with bitter salad
Some of us remember when a slice of orange
was considered the hottest thing in trendy salad
ingredients. Tinned beetroot swimming in vinegar
and mushy tinned asparagus were also favoured.
ese days we prefer our salads ingredients to be
as fresh as possible, which is why it makes so much
sense to grow your own. We have also realised
that leaves with a touch of bitterness add interest
to a salad and lift the blandness of lettuce. Late
summer is the ideal season to start growing some of
these strongly avoured salad ingredients, such as
radicchio, endive and rocket.
Rocket is appropriately named because it is one
of the fastest growing plants from seed. Sow at
this time of year and you will be harvesting within
weeks. Toss freshly picked leaves into a mixed salad
or use them to garnish cooked dishes.
Endive and radicchio are both variations on the
one theme. ey are part of the chicory family and,
like chicory, are renowned for their piquantly bitter
Endive looks like a full hearted lettuce with a
Radicchio has red tinted leaves that contrast
attractively with greens. Both should be grown
quickly with lots of nitrogen-rich, rive liquid
fertiliser and plenty of water in hot weather. If they
are left in the garden they will eventually produce
tall shoots topped with pretty blue daisy owers
that open in the morning and fade as the day
Watercress (Nasturtium o cinale) is another
strongly- avoured plant that grows readily from
seed. Clearly, as its name suggests, watercress
should be grown in a spot with ample moisture.
A self-watering pot would be good, as it ensures
the plant does not dry out. Keep the pot in a
lightly shaded spot and feed regularly with some
nitrogen-rich rive Soluble All Purpose Plant
Food. A sprinkling of Yates Garden Lime before
sowing can be helpful, too, as these plants prefer a
Common cress (Lepidium sativum) is less fussy
about its position and will even grow indoors on
a windowsill. Seedlings can be harvested with
scissors and sprinkled as a garnish.
Cress's common name of 'peppergrass' gives
an indication of its peppery avour. Cress is a
particularly easy plant for beginning seed growers.
Another way to grow all the leafy ingredients for
a avour- lled salad is by sowing Yates Mesclun
French Salad Mix. is mix includes endive, rocket,
chicory, corn salad (also known as lamb's lettuce)
and a collection of leafy lettuces. Corn salad does
best in cooler climates and prefers to grow in the
cold months of the year.
Balance the avour of these bitter ingredients
with some sweet balsamic vinegar and olive oil
dressing and some crumbled cheese or lightly
toasted almonds or pine nuts. Another idea
is to mix in some apple or walnuts to make a
Mediterranean- avoured Waldorf-type salad.
ese healthy ingredients are fresh, tasty and so
good for you.
ey can all be grown economically from Yates
seed in just a few pots in the back yard or on the
In January 2003 I wrote that the
garden occupied all of my leisure
How much that has changed
lately and I would have to say
that family occupies most of my
Do not get me wrong --- I would not
have it any other way as many years ago I
gave a speech stating that my ambitions in
life were not about collecting money but
friends instead and hopefully there would
come a day when I would have lots of little
grandchildren's ngermarks on windows.
Well I now think myself very fortunate
to have this continuous supply of little
ngermarks that have mostly been
bestowed by Estella, Savannah and Maddy
and I simply do not waste my time by
cleaning them o as there are always more
important things to do.
I guess I am lucky that I found the time
and energy to create the garden some
years ago and now it simply has to carry
on surviving without any help from me
for weeks on end. I have found it very
surprising to nd just how well it does
sur vive whereas once I spent an enormous
amount of time in it particularly watering
it and keeping up appearances as Mrs
Bucket did with her house.
A few years ago I was forever trying to
gure out ways on how to make it more
maintenance free so I did not have to
spend all my leisure time in the garden.
Did I turn gardens back into lawn or
did I rip out trees and shrubs and put up
fences for shelter and privacy?
Did I get rid of the roses (some of which
can be very time consuming) or did I get
rid of some plants that needed a lot of care
However the other half of my brain
continually argued that I could not
possibly bear to look out my windows and
not see my beautiful garden.
Admittedly at that time I was spending
every spare moment in the garden and I
knew that I was its slave. It had become
my domineering master and I had allowed
it to be.
However fate intervened in my
debateable dilemma when I injured a
leg about three years ago and naturally
the garden was completely neglected for
several months. To my utmost surprise
I discovered that it survived very well
without me. Of course it was not in perfect
condition but it still kept its beauty.
Ever since then I have never gone back
to spending an enormous amount of
time in it and while it is never up to my
standard I have learned to accept it as it is
and turn a blind eye to any of its faults. I
have lost the odd plant because it has got
smothered or too dry or something but
the majority of plants have thrived. In fact
some have done better than ever as I used
to have the gardens very moist because of
A few of the roses have also died or else
have only one healthy branch and this is
also probably due to a lack of water or
other plants have grown in close around
them and therefore new shoots coming
from the base have not been given the
chance of living long because they have
not been able to survive without the
freedom to see the light of day. Some of
the roses were rather old roses anyway and
Although the garden may be neglected,
my many container plants never are as if I
failed to water them they would simply die
instantly. I have had several of my fuchsias
and geraniums for many years and always
love seeing these coming back into bloom
In late October I always pot up several
containers with annuals (lobelia, impatiens
and begonias) and these are looking
very attractive presently and will do for
a few months yet. As the garden slowly
deteriorates when we head towards the
colder seasons, so long as the patio area
remains attractive and colourful, I do not
mind so much.
I have often preached to you that it is
most important to dead head constantly
and yet I have not been able to follow
my own advice lately. Some of the
delphiniums have not been cut back and
have now gone to seed. If I cut them back
now, I doubt if I will get another owering
this year unless we have a long warm
Several of the roses also need dead-
heading but at least they should ower
again. And of course the old roses
(particularly the climbing and rambling
ones) that are once owering should be
pruned back now so that you will get
plenty of blooms next year.
I always thought that as you got older
you would have more free time but if I
had really thought about it I would have
realised that when four children multiply
into a gure of 13, it naturally makes quite
a di erence to my life and the poor old
garden just has to sit there watching and
waiting patiently for me to become its
tender loving carer again one day in the far
February jobs to do
A windowbox full of geraniums outside my kitchen window.
Trailing lilac lobelia with double pink impatiens make a pretty twosome in this wall container. One of my favourite geraniums that I have had for many years. It is a
double ower with attractive tones of pink particularly around the edges.
One of my favourite containers of plants this year has been one placed in a bird bath that has double white impatiens with the silver
leaves of Dichondra Silver Falls tumbling down the sides like a waterfall.
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