October 3, 2008 Weekly Garden Guide

We are heading quickly towards mid spring and plants are romping into growth. This is the time to finish major pruning and shaping. You then follow up later with a light hair cut on the new growth if required.

  • As plants put on their new growth, it is the optimum time for feeding them. At a recent dinner party of a number of seasoned gardeners, we all agreed that the local product of BioBoost is as good as any and better and cheaper than most.
  • Slugs and snails are at their most active. If you use slug bait, remember that one bait can kill a number of offenders so do not use it like fertiliser. Slug bait is pretty nasty stuff so wear gloves and/or wash your hands thoroughly after handling it. If you don’t like slug bait, getting out at night with a good torch and digital control can effect a reasonably good hit rate, especially on damper nights though it is tricky to manage both torch and umbrella. Spreading gritty material such as sand, sawdust, crushed egg shells, pine or rimu needles discourages many slimy crawlers although they only head off to easier pastures. The old favourites of a buried beer can with a few centimetres of beer at the bottom (they are drawn by the scent and then get trapped or drown) or hollowed out orange skins can attract them until you do a killing round in the morning. It is not friendly to liberate captives into your neighbour’s property. Don’t be sentimental. Squash them.
  • The cold blast this week is a timely reminder of the value of cloches in establishing early vegetable crops. The usual modern cloche is a series of hoops with an opaque or clear plastic cover and allows you to cover a decent length but you can get cheaper alternatives for smaller areas. Even opaque plastic milk containers will act as a mini cloche for a single lettuce.
  • Plant climbing and dwarf beans, carrots, peas, cauli, broc, beetroot, spinach and salad veg. These can all go directly into the garden as seeds or plants…
  • If you didn’t do it last weekend, then get onto planting seeds of melons, cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchini, aubergines and capsicums into containers as soon as possible. Keep them in a warm spot and you will be ready for planting out at the end of the month. If you have bought little plants of them already growing, don’t check their growth by putting them straight into the garden. It is still too cold in most areas. Pot them on to a larger container if needed and keep them warm and in growth.
  • Top dress garlic and strawberries with a light dusting of blood and bone if you haven’t done so already.

In 1939, Jens Jensen pontificated:

In the plan of human conduct there is a marked difference between the mind which sees beauty in a simple violet and which sees it in a pompous rose or dahlia. On the one hand we have a love for the free and untampered flowers of God’s creation and on the other hand for a flower of social ills, sophistication, and conceit.

Well dang me. And there I was thinking that indeed violets are lovely; it is just a shame they can be so invasive. But we had no concept that Mark’s plant breeding could be held responsible for social ills!