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
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.
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.
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 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