Home' Central Canterbury News : September 26th 2012 Contents 9
CENTRAL CANTERBURY NEWS, SEPTEMBER 26, 2012
Out of nursery, into their beds
Juicy fruit: Plant a grape
vine now, and this time
next year you will see the
first fat leaf buds unfurling
-- and big juicy grapes to
enjoy in summer.
It's time to start planting your
summer crops now. Here's what
you can be doing in your garden.
Keep an eye on seedlings
If you've sown heaps of tom-
atoes, peppers, eggplants,
brassicas, lettuces and other
spring and summer crops in trays
or pots indoors, and you've got
them tucked up under a plastic or
glass cloche, don't forget to let the
You'd be amazed how hot it can
get inside glasshouses and tunnel-
houses even in early spring, so
open the vents if necessary, or
unzip the flaps on mini green-
Tender seedlings can shrivel up
in less than a day if they get too
hot or dry out -- and there's no
way to revive them.
Keep sowing your summer
crops of tomatoes, peppers and
eggplants in trays, but wait at
least another couple of weeks
before sowing corn, zucchini,
cucumbers and pumpkins directly
into your garden.
You can start sowing beetroot
and carrots outdoors now, along
with another round of peas and
Which reminds me: it's time to
stake my peas too. I'm using bam-
boo tepees trussed up with string
for my climbing varieties, and
twigs for the shorter varieties.
Even the dwarf varieties like
Petit Provencal'', which only
grows to 45cm high, do better with
a little support.
This French heirloom is a
yummy pea that's quick to crop --
it starts flowering in six weeks
and you can start picking the pods
from eight weeks.
Plus, if you're getting desperate
for some fresh flavours, you can
treat the immature pods as snow
peas or snip off the tendrils and
add them to your salads.
Prepare potato beds
Plant early varieties like
Rocket'' and Jersey Benne''.
Sprouted potatoes take about
three weeks to emerge from the
soil after planting, so seed spuds
planted now should be safe from
To sprout your potatoes, lay
them out in shallow boxes or bas-
kets in a bright, dry, warm
When the sprouts are about
1cm long, they're ready to go into
the ground. Don't let them get
much longer than that, or you run
the risk of damaging the growing
tips when you cover your seed
spuds with soil.
Often you'll find that there's no
need for this sprouting process, as
they'll already have started to
form shoots inside their plastic
bags at the garden centre.
You'll always get a better crop
of spuds if you put some effort into
soil preparation too.
Dig deep trenches -- aim for a
spade-depth -- and mix in store-
bought potato fertiliser or your
choice of organic fertilisers.
Don't overdo it with sheep pel-
lets, chicken manure or fresh com-
post though, as these can heat up
and burn the eyes off your seed
It's better to work a little com-
post into the soil at planting time
and then mound up with more
later in the season, when the
plants are growing vigorously and
will scoff up any nutrients you
Space your seed potatoes about
50cm apart in your trenches -- or
as close as 30cm for early varieties
like Cliff Kidney'' and Jersey
Benne'', which don't grow such
large tops -- and cover with 10 to
20cm of soil.
In the past, I used to simply
backfill the trenches so they were
level after planting, and then
mound up throughout the growing
season, but then I noticed that the
commercial growers don't bother.
They simply mound up the soil
on top of the rows immediately
after planting, so I've been taking
that approach for the past two
seasons. It saves so much time
later, and also seems to stop the
weeds in their tracks
Mulch your strawberries
While you're dealing with
mulch, surround your strawber-
ries with the stuff too.
Strawberries are prone to rot-
ting if the ripening fruit comes
into contact with damp soil, so
cover the bare soil around your
strawberry plants with straw,
hay, bagged mulch or strips of
black plastic. I used to use pea
straw but I've gone off it: it seems
to rot down too quickly in my
damp soil and causes more trouble
than it prevents.
With the fruit starting to
develop, it's worth feeding straw-
berries now, with either liquid fer-
tiliser or a side dressing of special-
ist strawberry food from your local
Plant a grape vine
I always get a little excited
when I spot the first fat leaf buds
unfurling on my grape vines,
which otherwise look dead at this
time of the year.
As soon as you see these early
signs of new season's growth, you
know that it's the ideal time to put
in a grape vine if you're keen to
grow your own juicy table grapes
in summer. They won't fruit this
season but you should get a crop
in their second summer.
These deciduous vines are mar-
vellous for summer shade when
grown over a pergola or along a
porch and they can be trained into
a living umbrella or pillar too.
Look for grapes in the Incred-
ible Edibles range or order online
from the Edible Garden.
- NZ Gardener
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