Heat and herbs

Even if the school hol­i­days are at an end and the po­hutukawa blos­soms are fading, sum­mer in the gar­den is still full steam ahead. Ad­e­quate water and pro­tec­tion from dry­ing winds are im­por­tant dur­ing this month for all your ed­i­bles. Wa­ter­ing your gar­den in

Element - - Gardening - By Janet Luke

Ripe for the pick­ing.

Eg­g­plants, cap­sicums, toma­toes, corn, and French beans are all in abun­dance. Cour­gettes and cu­cum­ber are grow­ing fu­ri­ously. New sea­son pota­toes can be en­joyed swim­ming lib­er­ally in gar­lic but­ter!

In the vege gar­den

Now is the time to harvest your gar­lic. Gen­tly dig up the bulbs us­ing a fork and let them dry in the sun for a few days. You can then get artis­tic and plait the dried leaves like the French do. Your gar­lic will store for longer if you re­tain the stem and leaves. Hang them in a cool area. Keep plant­ing small amounts of French beans, cu­cum­bers, let­tuce, sum­mer va­ri­eties of bras­si­cas, spring onion, beet­root and toma­toes. Gorge on your new pota­toes as you dig them from the gar­den. “Bandi­coot” the early ones. To do this, dig down with your hand and feel for any large pota­toes. You can harvest these with­out hurt­ing the other de­vel­op­ing pota­toes on the plant. Keep har­vest­ing your toma­toes. You can pick them when they are just be­gin­ning to turn red and let them ripen fully on a sunny win­dow sill. This is also the time to start think­ing about sow­ing some win­ter bras­sica seeds in trays. Next month they can be planted out and then they have plenty of time to de­velop be­fore the first cold weather ar­rives.

Ur­ban or­chard

Net your soft berry fruits from the birds. Keep up the wa­ter­ing of all your fruit trees. If there is a heavy crop of de­vel­op­ing ap­ple or pears it is a good idea to thin the fruit. Pick off any small, dis­eased or crowed fruit from your trees. Spray with Neem, pyrethrum or sul­phur and paint di­atoma­ceous earth around the truck to help pre­vent codling moth.

Herbs

This hot weather is the time to grow basil. There are many va­ri­eties to try. Sow the seeds di­rectly and cover with dark com­post to heat the soil. Pick the tips of­ten to keep the plant bushy. If any seed heads de­velop pick these off to stop the plant bolt­ing to seed. Plant your basil around your tomato plants as it is be­lieved they are good com­pan­ions. Al­low some plants to de­velop flow­ers as this will en­cour­age bees and other im­por­tant pol­li­na­tors into your gar­den. Af­ter flow­er­ing they will form seed heads which you can col­lect and sow next sum­mer.

Lemon Grass

Lemon grass is na­tive to In­dia and Asia. It is a strik­ing look­ing or­na­men­tal grass-like plant which grows to around one me­tre. It needs mois­ture and a frost free po­si­tion. It is peren­nial which means it may die down in win­ter and reap­pear in spring. Use the stalks in Asian cook­ing and to flavour drinks. It is a good herb for a

windy sea­side area or in a large pot. Janet Luke is a land­scape ar­chi­tect with a pas­sion for sus­tain­able liv­ing. She is the di­rec­tor of Green Ur­ban Liv­ing and the au­thor of a book by the same name, avail­able in good book stores. Visit greenur­ban­liv­ing.co.nz

Rhode Is­land Red

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