April 2014

April is
a good time to...


Plant winter veges like broccoli, silver or rainbow beet, leeks and celery. Pull out summer annuals, dig over the soil and replant with winter annuals like primulas, polyanthus, pansies and cinerarias. Give the soil an extra boost by adding compost. Mulch, prune your shrubs and remove dead flower heads from your roses.

Read on for more details...



Burning question

Last year I had a real problem with grass grubs in my lawn. What can I do to prevent them causing trouble this year?

Try sprinkling grass grub granules on the lawn now, particularly around any trees on the lawn because that's where the grubs like to start. Doing this should stop them taking control during the winter.

Click here to email Tod your burning question today.



Noughts and crosses

If your kids, grandchildren or small charges run out of easter eggs to demolish these school holidays, keep them busy with this noughts and crosses game courtesy of Chicken Scratch NY.

All you need is 10 rocks, some old house paint test pots and a place to play.



Stock up on spinach

When your planting your winter veges like broccoli and leeks this month, throw in some spinach seedlings in between the rows. The spinach will be ready to harvest and eat before your slower growing veges need the space. Here's Tod's guide on how and where to grow spinach.



Correction

In last month's edition of Cultivated News we accidentally inserted a paragraph about 'whitefly' into the answer for the burning question on 'white butterfly'. Basil will not keep away white butterfly. It is meant to repel whitefly, but we've had one or two of you write and tell us that this isn't the case either. We'd love to hear what more of you think on this subject.

Do you have any companion plants that keep whitefly and/or white butterfly at bay? Email your thoughts on the matter to Tod and we'll share in a future edition of Cultivated News.

One plus one makes two

Cyclone Lusi aside, the weather has been very dry in the Manawatu during March so we've continued to water regularly - check out our facebook page for a video of how you get large-scale watering done with a tractor.

Speaking of tractors, here is a photo of our new pride and joy next to one of our existing pride and joy.

We've had our Massey Fergusson 220 tractor for 30 years.
When a tidy, second-hand, low hour example came up for sale we decided we had to have it. The older version will always be our first love, but when you compare the clutch pedals of the two and see the evidence of the 30,000 plus hours we've driven in it, it makes the decision to upgrade a little easier.

And speaking of watering, remember even though its April it can still be dry so keep it up. And, as Tod recommends, start your winter planting when you find you're having to mow the lawns regularly again - a sign the soil temperature is still warm but also has moisture in it and is in the perfect condition to kick starting your seedlings.

Happy gardening
Henri Ham
 

Sun loving geranium

If you've got a sun drenched spot in your garden calling out for some colour then you need a sun loving plant like geranium.

This hot coloured plant loves hot conditions, which makes it perfect for planting in pots that tend to dry out or places that are a bit too windy for other flowers. It's also a great plant to grow in hanging baskets, other containers like wine barrels, and pretty much anywhere that is well drained and gets good sun.
 
Once you've decided on where you're going to grow these colourful flowers apply a general fertiliser like nitrophoska blue or use a good quality potting mix if you're planting in pots.

Then simply dig a little hole and plant. In a small pot you'll probably only need one seedling as they spread out a bit.

The bullseye variety of geraniums, available from our online store, include a mix of seedlings in red, white, orange and pinks accompanied by dark green leaves with light green edging.

Livingstone daisies, lobelia and alyssum are a few more bright plants that are fans of the sun and look good grown next to geraniums.

Read more


The art to cultivating coriander

Coriander can be a tricky herb to grow. It has a tendency to bolt when it gets too warm and goes leggy and straggly when it gets damp.

But if I had the choice between popping out to my garden for fresh coriander leaves every time I make a curry or Thai salad versus using limp, store-bought packet coriander or worse the dried version, there's really no competition. Plus once you understand the art to cultivating this aromatic herb it's really not so tricky to grow at all.

First of all you need to find the right spot to plant it. At this time of year coriander prefers to be in full sun (during summer it prefers partial shade).

You can give it a go, but I don't recommend growing it in a small pot indoors - like on your kitchen window. For the best results try planting your coriander seedlings in a large, deep pot outside or a sunny, free-draining area in your garden. This will prevent your plants getting damp. For the same reason, when you water this herb it's important to do it in the morning, not the evening, so it can dry off in the sun during the day.

Once your plant has got established remember to eat it quickly. If it's not consumed fast enough it tends to go to seed.

Don't eat a lot of coriander but still like to have it on hand? Never fear, simply stagger your planting of it. Instead of buying several coriander plants at once, buy a mixed herb Awapuni Traditional Value bundle or Pop'n'Grow pot, which includes a couple of coriander and other herb seedlings. Two to four weeks after you planted the first coriander, buy another mixed herb bundle or pot and do the same. This means as one plant goes to seed another will be ready for eating. Plus you get a wide variety of other herbs to choose from in your garden. Each coriander will take three to four weeks to grow.

See? Not so tricky after all.
 

Baba ghanoush recipe

If, after making the ratatouille we recommended, you still have plenty of eggplants to make use of in the kitchen you might like to check out this baba ghanoush recipe. This tasty dip can be served with toasted pita or warm Turkish bread. Greg Holdsworth
 

Did you know?

Coriander has been cultivated for over 3,000 years and was put in love potions during the Middle Ages as an aphrodisiac? It is also good for the digestive system as it aids the secretion of gastric juices and reduces flatulence.
 

Henri and Paul Ham, Awapuni Nurseries Ltd
Pioneer Highway PO Box 7075 Palmerston North 4443 NEW ZEALAND

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