Spring has SPRUNG

Spring is here in force. Your gar­den is burst­ing into life. There are blos­soms on the trees, bees a buzzing and new plants emerg­ing from the sleep­ing soil.

Element - - Gardening -

Ripe for the pick­ing

Broad beans, peas, leeks, car­rots, kale, rhubarb. Brussels sprouts are all fresh from the fields and now in the shops ready to be eaten. The first as­para­gus will soon be avail­able.

Veg­etable gar­dens

What you plant now will be what feeds you over the sum­mer months and even into au­tumn and win­ter. This is the time to plant seeds into trays to transplant later. Sow broc­coli, cu­cum­ber, cour­gette, beans, corn, pump­kin and tomato seeds in pots or trays and place in a warm spot to ger­mi­nate. A win­dow sill, bal­cony or mini glasshouse is ideal to pro­vide a warm moist en­vi­ron­ment.

Spread any re­main­ing com­post over the gar­den. Plant out seedlings of broc­coli, cab­bage. If you live in a frost free

Keep a close eye out for slugs and snails this time of year. At night, es­pe­cially when it is rain­ing, go out to the gar­den armed with a torch and a bucket of salty wa­ter.

spot plant out some early cour­gette and cu­cum­ber plants. Make mini green­houses for these plants by cut­ting the bot­tom off a plas­tic fizzy drink bot­tle and plac­ing over the plant. I stick a small bam­boo stake through the neck of the bot­tle into the ground to se­cure the bot­tles in wind.

Get some early sea­son mesclun go­ing. Dig over the soil and re­move any large clumps of soil or stones and then sprin­kle the fine mesclun seeds over a small area. Rake gen­tly and keep area damp un­til the seeds be­gin to ger­mi­nate. It is best to make sev­eral small suc­ces­sive sow­ings rather than one big one with mesclun as you will get sev­eral har­vests from the one sow­ing.

Keep a close eye out for slugs and snails this time of year. At night, es­pe­cially when it is rain­ing, go out to the gar­den armed with a torch and a bucket of salty wa­ter. If you catch any snails drop them into the salty wa­ter to kill them. Feed them to the chooks or put them in the worm farm. Herbs

Va­le­rian: this herb is also known as all heal. The Greek Hip­pocrates rec­om­mended its use in 300 BC. Va­le­rian is a phos­pho­rous rich plant and if you plant it around your ed­i­bles it is said to pro­mote strong growth and to en­cour­age earth­worms. Va­le­rian is also loved by cats so can be used in place of cat­nip.

Fox­gloves: grow­ing fox­gloves throughout your veg­etable gar­den and or­chard is a good thing. They will at­tract bees and bum­blebees and the plant acts as a growth stim­u­lant to its neigh­bours. The fox­glove flow­ers at the top of a tall stalk with the deep trum­pet-shaped flow­ers in shades of pur­ple and white. The plant thrives in hu­mus­rich soil in par­tial shade. It has nat­u­ralised through many parts of New Zealand.

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