July 2015

Burning question

How do I keep my garden tools clean?



While it's wet and cold at the moment it's a good time to sharpen and clean your gardening tools. Wash and clean the tools then use a wire brush or sandpaper if necessary to get off dried dirt.

Lastly rub the tools with oil. Here’s a tip for keeping small trowels, forks etc clean. Mix some oil into sand and fill a small bucket or a garden pot, which has had the drainage hole(s) covered with duck tape. Store the tools by poking them into the pot or bucket. This will keep them clean, sharp and rust free.

Click here to email Tod your burning question today.

Perfecting strawberry planting

Strawberries are great because they can be grown just about anywhere. Hanging basket, a patch in your garden, in a pot or… how about in a pallet planter? Like a hanging basket, this planting concept is fantastic for strawberries because it allows them to hang down the side as well as be grown in the top.

Visit the Lovely Greens blog for step-by-step instructions on how to create your own strawberry pallet planter. Or if you’re a little short on space, check out this great strawberry tower from Sweet Living. And if you’re even shorter on space – check out this tower made from plastic pots.



Getting busy for the birds

Following on from the story in last month's edition of Cultivated News, which suggested making a fat ball to bring in the birds, here's another great recipe for attracting birds to your garden and a perfect activity for anyone on school holidays. If you've got anyone with a peanut allergy in your family just use shortening, dripping, fat or lard instead of peanut butter.



Hearty winter soup



Nothing says winter like soup. We’ve got a couple of go-to soup recipes up on our website like our favourite pumpkin and rosemary version. And we’ve recently uploaded another great one – kumara and carrot.

Visit the recipe section of www.awapuni.co.nz for more soup and other meal.

July is a good time to...



Get on top of your garden. For such a typically wet and cold time of the year, there is actually plenty to do in the garden during July. Prune and spray your fruit trees. Add compost and lime to your vege and rose gardens. Plant shallots and garlic. Get your potato patch ready. Plant winter veges or grow a cover crop like lucerne. Turn your compost over. Dig up and split your herbaceous perennials. Rake the leaves up and spray your lawn. And remember to deadhead your annuals.

Read on for more details...


New look strawberry plants

If you’re a regular purchaser of our strawberry seedlings you might have noticed they look a little bit different this year. In the past we sold the seedlings in their dormant phase. But it seems this was a bit confusing as they had no leaves and while they were only dormant, they looked a little dead! So this year we’re healing the plants into potting mix and getting some new growth on them prior to dispatch.  
And to be honest, I also think they look a lot better with a couple of green leaves! You can plant our strawberry plants just as you normally would.

On another note, we hope that wherever in New Zealand you are the weather is treating you kindly. It's been a severely cold and wet winter in some places and we're thinking of all those who've had to suffer the consequences of so much rain and snow.

Happy gardening

Henri Ham
 

Strawberries and ice cream anyone?

The delicious combination of strawberries and ice cream may be hard to picture right now as we wrap up warm and go into hibernation mode, but don’t forget the cold and damp won’t last forever.

In fact, before we know it, it’ll be summer again and if you want to enjoy the home-grown version of this mouth-watering dessert, now’s the time to get planting.
 

The thing I like about strawberries is, not only do they taste good, they're super easy to grow. Of course you can plant them in your everyday garden bed or a planter box. But if you want to do something a little different, why not pop them in a hanging basket or an old wine barrel? The plant's green foliage, white flowers and red berries will look great on your deck or patio. Just make sure they're in a sunny and a well-drained spot.

Wherever you decide to plant these red delights, you'll first need to get hold of our 'bare rooted' strawberry seedlings (which means we dig them up for you and shake the soil off the roots). Simply pop down to your local supermarket, The Warehouse or Bunnings and pick some up. Or, better still, head to our website and get them delivered direct to your door. Each bundle has around four plants which should produce between 60 to 100 strawberries. It may sound like a lot but I'll bet you’ll get through them in no time, so don’t be shy when ordering.

To get started, prepare the soil by digging in a general fertiliser that’s rich in potassium. This will help stimulate plant growth and produce large, juicy fruit. Choose a spot around the edges of your garden to encourage the strawberries to hang over the sides and prevent your fruit from touching the ground and rotting.

Dig a hole about 10cm deep and place your seedling inside. You'll need to make sure it's a deep hole to give the roots plenty of room to spread out and grow…but be careful not to bury the plant. Pack the soil firmly around each seedling and surround it with peastraw or newspaper to help keep away weeds and encourage fruiting on top. Plant your seedlings in a long row and, once they begin to fruit, place netting or wire over them. This will block out birds and ensure you get to eat the strawberries yourself!

Planting in a pot? Easy! As above, plant around the sides and ensure you use a top quality potting mix. For an extra boost of goodness apply a liquid fertiliser to the mix.

In spring, add another dose of general fertiliser to your strawberries to encourage sturdier plants that are more disease resistant heading in to the warmer months. And make sure you give them plenty of water.

If you’re using hanging baskets, it's best to pull out your strawberries and plant new ones after a year to freshen up the soil (don't forget to use new potting mix). But if they're in your garden, your strawberry patch will last a couple of years. After this you can simply use your runners to create a new patch – now that's what I call a sweet investment.

Read on for more details...


Home is where the hanging basket is

To me, nothing makes a house seem more like a home than a hanging basket floating welcomingly at the entrance – especially if it's filled with vintage flowers like the sweet wiliam. In fact, this ornamental plant is perfect for hanging - especially with pansies and lobelia around the outside - as it tends to sit neatly in a little mound, rather than growing free-form across the basket.

 
If you've already cottoned on to the hanging basket trend and have a couple at your place, you may have noticed they're due for a refresh. Sweet william is the perfect replacement plant, with the biennial giving you bright, colourful flowers from spring until autumn.

But it's not all about hanging baskets. Sweet william also does nicely in pots, are great for borders and ground cover, and make pretty cut flowers (just asked Kate Middelton who used it in her bridal bouquet when she married... uhem... sweet William. And don’t even ask how I know that).

Wherever you decide to plant, make sure it's a sunny spot and that the soil is rich and well-drained. Simply dig a little hole, insert your seedling and space each plant about 20cm apart. That really is most of the hard work done.

The thing I like about sweet william is it may look delicate, but when it comes to growing its pretty hardy and simply gets on with the job. It will even tolerate cool mornings and over-head watering, and will thrive happily without any deadheading.

In no time your plants will reach a delicate height of 25cm – just about perfect for your hanging basket.

To get your hands on our tall mixed sweet william seedings, pop into your local Bunnings, The Warehouse or supermarket. Or head to our online store and have your seedlings delivered direct to your door.

Read on for more details...
 

Complimentary companions

We’ve always said chives are a must-have for any kitchen or herb garden and not just because they’re a great garnish. Chives are a great companion plant to grow and to purchase your chive seedlings head to our online store. They virtually never attract pests or diseases and they grow well with parsley, because they like the same conditions. Chives are also said to prevent apple scab and ward off other insects from apple trees if planted near the base of the tree. And garlic chives are said to repel aphids from roses.  

The other great thing about chives is unlike many annual herbs, they're the plant that keeps on giving. Chives will go dormant and die down during winter and then pop up again come spring – meaning no need to replant each year. For Tod's tips on how to grow your chives check out our website.

Remember, these are companion planting tips and methods we've picked up along the way or heard of from other gardeners. We're not promising they'll work 100% but they're worth a shot in any garden – particularly if you’re trying to promote natural growth and keep it pesticide free.

For more information on companion planting visit here. And if you've had any experience with chives as a companion plant (good or bad) we'd love to hear about it. Email us here.

 

Winners

Congratulations to the following Cultivated News subscribers, Judi from Bishopdale, Margaret from Palmerston North, Lynette from Huntly, Heather from Foxton, Evan from Greytown and Jenny from Blenheim who have won Awapuni Nurseries seedlings simply for being subscribed during June.  

Remember, we're giving away seedling bundles to Cultivated News subscribers every month until the end of 2015, so stay subscribed for your chance to win and remember to check your inbox in case you’re one of our lucky winners.


 

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

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