Home' Central Canterbury News : September 5th 2012 Contents 14 CENTRAL CANTERBURY NEWS, SEPTEMBER 5, 2012
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a tasty change
This column is adapted from the
e-newsletter Get Growing from New
Zealand Gardener. To subscribe to Get
Growing (it's free), visit the NZ Gardener
website at nzgardener.co.nz and click on
the Get Growing tab. To subscribe to NZ
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Growth spurt: It's time to divide your globe artichokes, which
should be waking up from their winter slumber.
By LYNDA HALLINAN
1. Sow kohlrabi. If you're getting sick
of eating spuds, silverbeet, parsnips,
swedes, leeks -- and all those other
hearty winter staples -- experiment
with a row of kohlrabi.
This fat-bottomed brassica is one
of my favourite spring crops -- it's
right up there with asparagus and
globe artichokes -- because it grows
quickly and adds quirky character to
There are two main types of kohl-
rabi: varieties with pinkish-purple
bulbous bases (such as Azur Star
and Early Purple Vienna) and those
with pale green bulbs, such as Emer-
If you can thwart slugs and snails,
simply sow kohlrabi seed directly
where you want it to grow, spacing
the seeds 20cm to 30cm apart. Or
sow the seed in trays and transplant
when the seedlings are about the
same size as the cauliflower or broc-
coli seedlings you buy in punnets.
In a sunny cloche or plastic house,
the seeds should germinate within
two to three weeks. In moist spring
soil, kohlrabi can be ready to pick in
as little as 70 days.
2. Divide globe artichokes and rhu-
barb. Globe artichokes should be
putting on a growth spurt about
now, as they wake from their winter
slumber and shoot upwards to pro-
duce the nutty, edible buds we love.
if your plants are more than a couple
of seasons old, you'll notice lots of
new shoots at the base.
Use a sharp spade to divide these
up for free plants.
You can also divide rhubarb now,
even if it's showing no signs of
growth. Prise out older clumps with
a fork and divide the crown up --
often the central, tired part of the
plant can simply be discarded.
Replant rhubarb divisions in
compost-enriched soil (chuck in some
sheep pellets too) and they should
sprout away in a matter of weeks.
3. Sow heirloom tomatoes, peppers
All of these heat lovers take a good
six to eight weeks from sowing to
reach a reasonable size for trans-
planting, which means if you want to
get them planted at Labour Week-
end, don't delay getting the seeds
Sow in trays or individual pots of
seed-raising mix. Why use seed-
raising mix instead of garden soil?
Because it's sterile, free-draining,
and contains soil fungicide and
starter fertiliser to spur your seed-
lings to grow quickly and healthily.
Tomato seeds take an average of
10 days to germinate so check your
trays daily if you've popped them
into your hot water cupboard for
extra warmth, as they'll need to be
brought into the light as soon as they
Keep moist at all times but don't
saturate the seed-raising mix as this
can lead to damping off, a fungal dis-
ease that causes seedlings to keel
When your tomato seedlings have
their first true leaves (ie, they have
distinctive tomato foliage and don't
just look like sprouts), you should
carefully prick them out of the trays
and pot them in into larger con-
tainers to grow on until Labour
My favourite tomatoes are Black
Cherry, the reliable red cherry,
Sweet 100' and, for big, meaty heir-
loom fruit that's full of flavour, the
4. Sow salad greens and radishes
in pots and troughs. Sow mesclun
salad mix, rocket and lettuces for a
constant supply and sprinkle radish
seeds in the gaps between your
greens. Baby carrots and baby beets
can also be sown in pots to add
crunch to salads.
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