This week 11 Aug 2006

  • A bit of an oops last week when we advised harvesting remaining crops of carrots and onions. It should of course have been carrots and parsnips. The onion crop has just been sown.
  • If you are a bit ho hum about cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower or a little bored by utility veggies generally, there is a wonderful array of gourmet seed available locally. Mark could not resist strawberry spinach (can’t wait), asparagus pea (the mind boggles) and Florence fennel. The Florence fennel should yield the fennel bulbs used in Italian cooking but not generally available in greengrocers and supermarkets.
  • Peas are best staked when young to avoid damage and to give them something to climb. Peas can be sown at two weekly intervals to keep a succession in summer.
  • New potatoes planted now should be up by the end of August. They can be protected from late frosts by mounding up soil if it looks as if the new shoots may get burnt. There is a splendid range available in garden shops at the moment and one enterprising New Plymouth garden centre has a pick and mix where you can select as few as five of each variety so you can experiment with different types and not have to buy the whole 3kg bag of one type.
  • While camellias are just starting to come in to their own in the garden, potted plants in garden centres usually open blooms earlier and most will be in full flower now. It is an ideal time to chose and for planting in the garden. Camellias also make splendid specimens in containers – just make sure you have plenty of drainage holes at the bottom of your container and don’t drown a small plant in an oversized pot.
  • Container plants need to be repotted every couple of years. Winter is a good time to do it, especially if the plant is struggling or you plan to trim back the root ball. The cooler weather reduces stress on the plant. If you trim the roots, make sure you trim the top as well so that a reduced root system is not struggling to support on oversized top.
  • Buying deciduous plants in winter when they look like a cluster of bare sticks takes trust, but now is the best time for planting and garden centres will have their best selection available at this time.
  • It is a good time to look at your young deciduous trees and to keep them to a single trunk while you can see what you are doing and before the sap rises. Double leaders can lead to structural problems later and don’t look great.