Home' Central Canterbury News : July 17th 2013 Contents 12 CENTRAL CANTERBURY NEWS, JULY 17, 2013
Ways around winter blues
This column is adapted from
the e-newsletter Get Growing
from New Zealand Gardener.
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visit the NZ Gardener website
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By LYNDA HALLINAN
FAST GROWER: Chinese cabbages like bok choy grow at about twice the
rate of standard cabbages in winter. Photo: FAIRFAX NZ
BUY POTTED COLOUR
If you re like me and winter
starts to get on your wick about
now -- all that rain and mud --
then banish the blues with a spot
Lift your spirits by planting
some instant potted colour in con-
tainers on your deck or at the
Potted colour s cheap and cheer-
ful, and cramming as many plants
as possible into a pot makes for a
nice show. Go for pansies, polyan-
thus, Iceland poppies, primulas,
calendulas and marigolds --
nothing fancy, just good old-
And don t be afraid to have
some fun with your containers too.
I ve just potted up some wee violas
inside, in an old birdcage.
Potted colour should bloom for
at least 4-6 weeks -- just long
enough to bridge the gap until
spring. Feed with liquid fertiliser,
dead-head the old blooms and just
be careful not to overwater, or the
plants can rot.
PLANT BOK CHOY
Plant quick-growing bok choy
as a gap filler around slower-
growing brassicas like broccoli,
cabbages and cauliflowers.
Chinese cabbages like bok choy,
pak choi and wong bok grow at
about twice the rate of standard
cabbages in winter. If you plant
seedlings this weekend, they ll be
ready to eat in six weeks. Bok
choy is delicious stir-fried with
fresh ginger, crushed garlic, chilli
and a dash or two of soy sauce.
ORDER SEEDS TO SOW
My favourite winter job, aside
from planting garlic (I ve put in 89
cloves so far, with another nine
rows of nine cloves to go), is order-
ing seeds to sow in spring. The
new Kings Seeds catalogue is hot
off the press, so tonight, when the
kids are in bed, I m going to pour
a glass of wine and spend an hour
or two fantasising over new crops
Top of my list this year is capsi-
cums. They re $3.50 each at our
local greengrocers at the moment!
(Yes, I know they re out of season,
but I m still in the early throes of
wok love and they re so good in
stir-fries.) I m going to have a
crack at growing capsicums in big
pots that I can move into our
sunny porch area to they ripen
next winter. I m going to sow
sweet mini Jingle Belles , long
Marconi Red and deep brown
Tawny Port .
Ping Pong radishes sound fun
too. These round, pure white rad-
ishes are said to have crisp flesh
and a mild flavour and are about
the same size as a ping pong ball.
They re apparently ready to pick
30 days after sowing.
Other new varieties to check out
this year include Show Winner
pumpkins -- a seed blend of giant
varieties that ripen to green,
orange, grey, or blue; popping
corn; and Goji berries.
From Niche Seeds, I m going to
order the cute mini green egg-
plant, Kermit . As I can t seem to
grow decent-sized standard egg-
plants, I figure I might as well
stick to the smaller fruiting types.
Italian Seeds Pronto has
intriguing heirlooms like the
melon Giallo Da Inverno , which
has a smooth, round shape, yellow
skin and sweet flesh. I m
assuming it s like a cross between
a watermelon and a rockmelon.
Finally, if you like hearty soups,
why not grow your own split peas?
Stella Christoffersen, of Running
Brook Seeds, sells a yellow soup
pea that I m growing at the
moment. Stella refuses to join the
internet age (she d rather be in
the garden, and who can blame
her?), so you ll have to write to
her: Running Brook Seeds, 34
Cooper Road, RD4, Waiuku 2684.
Send an SAE, plus $5 in postage,
for her charming handwritten
seed catalogue, which is packed
with fascinating heirlooms.
KEEP PLANTING BERRIES
Buy strawberry plants from
your local garden centre and get
them into the ground without
delay. Choose a spot in full sun,
with good, free-draining soil. Dig
in specialist strawberry fertiliser
(or a handful of general garden
fertiliser per plant), work it in and
then mound up the soil slightly.
Transplant rooted runners now
too, if you haven t already.
SOW ONIONS IN TRAYS
We eat lots of onions. In winter,
they go into every soup and stew --
but they re so cheap to buy in bulk
that it hardly seems worth the
effort to raise them from seed.
Having said that, this year I m
challenging myself to grow at
least some of my own onions.
You can sow onions direct, but
as they re notoriously slow-
growing, it s easier to start the
seeds in trays filled with sterile
seed-raising mix, then transplant
the seedlings when 6-10cm tall.
If you sow direct, you ll also
spend the next few months on
your hands and knees, knocking
out all the tiny weed seedlings
that pop up in and around your
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