Gar­den­ing Q&As part 2

Central Otago Mirror - - CLASSIFIEDS - Jane Wrig­glesworth Q. I can’t grow leeks. They don’t seem to get any big­ger than a fin­ger. I feed them with liq­uid fer­tiliser over the months. Whatam I do­ing wrong? A. Q. I have sev­eral large clumps of bulbs, some jon­quils, some daf­fodils, that no longer

There are two things that leeks like. A well-ma­nured soil and early plant­ing. Many peo­ple plant their leeks in au­tumn, hop­ing they’ll fat­ten up in time for win­ter pick­ing. But they need to be planted be­fore that to en­sure they put enough fat on their chops be­fore the end of the sea­son. Tra­di­tion­ally seedlings are planted out from De­cem­ber to Fe­bru­ary (seeds can be sown in early spring).

Pre­pare the bed be­fore plant­ing (best down in au­tumn). Dig the ground over then add a bucket of aged ma­nure per square me­tre. Sow the seeds in spring in drills about 1cm deep and rows 15cm apart. Once they are grow­ing well, thin the seedlings to 4cm apart. If you don’t wish to sow them di­rectly in the ground, you can plant them in pa­per or peat pots and trans­plant the pot and all into the ground when the seedlings are big enough. Keep plants well wa­tered in dry spells and liq­uid feed ev­ery two weeks.

Dig them up and di­vide them. Daf­fodils should re­ally be di­vided ev­ery four years or so, oth­er­wise they be­come over­crowded and flow­er­ing di­min­ishes or stops al­to­gether. Dig up your bulbs in De­cem­ber when dor­mant, set them aside to dry for a cou­ple of weeks, then re­move the off­sets. Store in a cool, airy place be­fore re­plant­ing early au­tumn. If the bulbs look dis­eased, though, throw them out. If you have grown your daf­fodils in the same spot for years, the soil may be im­pov­er­ished. Be­fore re­plant­ing, im­prove the soil by adding some com­post or aged ma­nure, as well as some blood and bone. Plant the bulbs three times their depth. That is, a bulb that is 5cm deep should be planted 15cm deep.

The key to strong, healthy cel­ery is lib­eral amounts of wa­ter and fer­tiliser. Lack of both will have a marked ef­fect on size and yield. Two or three weeks be­fore plant­ing, dig in plenty of com­post or aged ma­nure, then a week be­fore set­ting them out, ap­ply a gen­eral-pur­pose fer­tiliser. Plants must be kept well wa­tered through­out the grow­ing sea­son, es­pe­cially dur­ing dry spells. Any in­ter­rup­tion in mois­ture lev­els will lead to all sorts of prob­lems. Cel­ery must also be en­cour­aged to grow steadily and strongly. Feed once a fort­night with liq­uid fer­tiliser. If you have ac­cess to it, you can feed with poul­try ma­nure in­stead.

Cel­ery: The key to strong, healthy cel­ery is lib­eral amounts of wa­ter and fer­tiliser.

Big feed­ers: Leeks like a well­ma­nured soil and early plant­ing.

Split ’em: Daf­fodils should re­ally be di­vided ev­ery four years or so.

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