Now is the time to start sowing seeds and planting seedlings like a gardener possessed! The warmer weather means that the soil temperature will maintain a good growth rate for any plants. If you see lots of weeds fighting it out in your vege patch this is a sure sign that the soil is warm enough. Daylight saving means there is no excuse not to be out in the garden.
Ripe for the picking
Asparagus is now at its prime; make the most of it while it is in season. Store upright in water in the fridge. Globe artichokes aren’t just stunning in the garden, they are also lovely to eat. Prepare, cook and drizzle with garlic butter. Broad beans, peas, carrots, parsnips and onions are all in season. New season potatoes may now be available. Keep enjoying rhubarb, early gooseberries and the first of the season strawberries.
In the vege garden
Soil temperature in most northern areas will be around 16 degrees. Many seeds can be planted directly into the garden. This always saves time in transplanting but I always plant a few extra seeds as an assurance for any losses from birds, heavy rain or a scratching chicken (common in my garden) Sow peas, radish, snow peas, corn, lettuce, broccoli, basil, cabbage, NZ spinach, silverbeet.
Sow mesclun mix directly in the garden or in pots on the balcony. Do successional plantings every three weeks for a constant supply of spray-free lettuce. If you left your scarlet runner beans in the soil they will be sprouting and will need some support for their clinging tendrils. Keep your asparagus bed well mulched and pick new spears daily as they appear. It’s hard not to eat them straight away when they are so sweet. They taste like peas.
Keep planting potatoes in deep trenches. I wrap each spud in a wilted comfrey leaf for an inbuilt boost.
Plant out tomato seedlings. I provide a “hotty” for each plant by assigning wine bottles filled with water around the base of each plant. This protects them from any cold nights or late frosts. The sun heats the water during the day and then this heat is released at night.
This hardy Mediterranean herb loves a hot spot and well-drained soil. Treat it mean and don’t feed it or over water. It is best grown from cuttings. It makes an easy care no-mow lawn. Why not plant a carpet of thyme under the clothesline or any hard to mow area. The leaves are at their most aromatic when the plant is in flower. Use it in vinegars, stocks, marinades, stews or on pizzas. The flowers will attract bees to your garden.
Rosemary Rosemary is another tough-as-old-boots herb. Don’t over love it with fertiliser or water as it won’t show any gratitude. Varieties can be upright, which make stunning hedges, or trailing, a great way to cover a bank. Propagate rosemary by taking semi hardwood cuttings anytime during the year. Use rosemary with any lamb dish, use rosemary twigs as skewers on the barbeque. Put rosemary prunings in dog kennels or chook laying boxes to help keep fleas and lice away.
Learn how to put your food and garden waste to good use by completing a free Create Your Own Eden course, funded by Auckland Council.
Courses are provided throughout the region. Bookings are essential.
Ph: 482 1172 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If any of your fruit trees have lost at least two thirds of its petals and you can see new leaves sprouting you can spray your trees with lime sulphur, neem or pyrethrum. This will help control aphids, brown rot and powdery mildew.
It is a good time to feed your trees as they are developing new fruit. Spread compost, used coffee grounds or wilted comfrey leaves around and under the trees. Check ties to ensure that they are not becoming too tight around the trunk. This is a good time to plant blueberry, raspberry, current or blackberry plants
URBAN LIVESTOCK – CHOOKS
Any chooks that have access to the ground will pick up intestinal worms. It is important to worm your girls regularly to keep them in tip top condition. A chicken that has a high infestation of worms will quickly lose condition and decrease or stop laying. You can buy chemical treatments from your vet or pet shop but this renders the eggs inedible for up to 10 days! What a waste. I prefer to worm my girls organically.
One way is to crush 3 garlic cloves in their drinking water and add a dash of apple cider vinegar. Have this as the only drinking water they have access to for three days and then discard. I also make a Poultry health tonic and natural wormer from a variety of natural ingredients which I feed regularly.
These heavy hens quiet, docile, and extremely friendly and make lovely mothers. They are good layers producing around 220 large, light brown eggs a year. Common colours are blue, buff and black.
Got a bag less vacuum cleaner? Empty the contents into the worm farm and dampen with water. The worms will happily munch through all this detritus. You may need to fish out the lego pieces though!
Use rubber gloves to make rubber bands. Cut through the glove to make circles.
By Janet Luke
Janet Luke is a Landscape Architect with a passion for sustainable living and her business Green Urban Living.co.nz. Her first book, Green Urban Living is available in good book shops.