Home' Central Canterbury News : May 29th 2013 Contents 19
CENTRAL CANTERBURY NEWS, MAY 29, 2013
Keep your screen clear
Be bright, use your lights
Slow down on wet or icy roads
Sunrise, sunset expect sunstrike
Use your lights in fog
Drive slow on ice and snow
MOTHER KNOWS BEST!
Time to clean out
your worm farm
This column is adapted from the
e-newsletter Get Growing from
New Zealand Gardener.To
subscribe to Get Growing visit
the NZ Gardener website at
nzgardener.co.nz, and click on
the Get Growing tab. To
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0800 mags 4 gifts.
FARM CARE: Worms slow down in
winter, so try not to overfeed them
between now and spring.
Photo: FAIRFAX NZ
Worm farm care
Now is a good time for a full-on
overhaul of your worm farm.
Drain and thoroughly wash out
the bottom worm wee trays. These
tend to fill up with stray worms
and sediment, which can be
strained through a sieve.
Use the slurry on the garden
and return any worms to the
Tease apart compacted, sour
patches in the bins and dress
lightly with lime. Don't be alarm-
ed by how many other creepy
crawlies are in your worm farm.
All play key roles in the decompo-
Worms work most efficiently
with a damp inner cover to protect
them from temperature spikes.
I use empty chicken feed bags,
pieces of woollen carpet, or folded
up old sheets.
These are placed directly under
the lid, on top of the worms' food.
Worms slow down in winter, so try
not to overfeed them between now
Stock pot crops
If you share my fondness for
winter soups and stews, you will
know that however meaty, such
dishes are built on a rock-solid
foundation of herbs and vegies.
Despite the steady approach of
winter, there is still time to start
planting a stock-pot garden.
Everyone needs a bay tree
These hardy, long-lived trees
can be grown outdoors in all parts
of the country, and will keep in
you fresh leaves year-round for
Although you only ever need a
few leaves at a time, European
winter cooking is all but imposs-
ible without them.
Few herbs can compete with the
thyme clan for variety, but for the
sake of soups and stews, you can't
go past old-fashioned common
English thyme (Thymus vulgaris).
This low-growing perennial is
incredibly hardy, provided you
give it lots of sun and a well-
drained root run.
Thyme thrives on neglect, and
seemingly even outright abuse.
By my reckoning, the very best-
tasting strain of common thyme
(there are several) is the stuff
growing wild in Central Otago. It
has well and truly adapted to
Plants form very dense snow-
proof clumps, with sparse leaves
and an almost chilli-hot flavour.
This spiciness is caused by an
ultra-high oil content, which
likely serves as antifreeze in the
French sorrel (Rumex acetosa)
grows best through the winter
months, and much like its close
relative, rhubarb, forms a large
With a texture like young
spinach and a sharp, lemony
flavour, sorrel can be used in
winter salads, added to soups
and stews just before serving, or
as the base in a retro-exquisite
Sorrel can be grown in full sun
or partial shade, and enjoys rich,
moist soil. Frost will knock the
tops off, but established plants
always bounce back.
Par-Cel, aka Chinese Celery
excellent, longed-lived and near
rust-proof alternative to regular
celery. The mostly stringless
stems are only about pencil thick-
ness, but have a good celery
flavour and pleasing crunch.
The distinctive hollow stems
are popular in soups throughout
South East Asia. Plants should
flourish for at least a couple of
years, even after flowering. Grow
par-cel in full sun.
Another celery relative worth a
sunny spot is lovage.
This perennial has a particular
affinity for chicken, imparting a
nutty flavour suggestive of celery,
nutmeg and fenugreek.
Lovage has a subtle flavour-
enhancing quality too -- a bit
like herbal MSG. It isn't fussy
about soil, as long as it gets plenty
Although not as pretty as bronze
fennel or versatile as bulb/
Florence fennel, wild fennel packs
a powerful punch of flavour.
Seeds and young plants can be
collected from the wild, and
despite their weedy reputation,
are also easily controlled in
They are not at all fussy about
where or how they are grown.
Sort out your seeds
Tidy up your shed by sorting your
seeds into sowing seasons (spring,
summer, autumn and winter).
Store anything that you don't
need now safely out of reach
It might be almost winter, but no-
one has told the white cabbage
butterflies. Their caterpillars can
skeletonise seedlings overnight,
and although most enamoured of
the cabbage clan, will cheerfully
chomp at almost anything. Sooner
or later, the cold will halt their
advances, but until then, track
and kill individuals by looking for
fresh poo, which is bright
green and moist, as opposed to
dry and black. Squish caterpillars
Conditions are perfect for sowing
poppy seeds of just about all the
I love old-fashioned opium pop-
pies, but they do attract trouble in
the form of botanically savvy
thieves. I plant drifts of Flanders
poppies (quite devoid of narcotics),
with their crepey red petals and
Maltese cross hearts.
Poppies don't take kindly to root
disturbance, so are best sown
directly in loose, raked soil.
To ensure spacing of the tiny
seeds, mix at the rate of about
1/10 with fine sand.
Most poppy seeds will not
germinate in darkness, so should
be gently watered into the soil,
rather than buried.
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