All sys­tems go

Put in a bit of ef­fort now and reap the re­wards with a har­vest to feed your fam­ily all sum­mer.

Element - - LIFE STYLE - By Janet Luke Visit Janet Luke’s web­site at greenur­ban­liv­ing.co.nz

This is a fran­tic month for grow­ing. It is if the plants have re­alised that the cold weather has passed and it is safe to hurl out their ten­der young growth.

Ripe for the pick­ing

As­para­gus, broad beans, beet­root, car­rots, let­tuce, lemons, grape­fruit, or­anges and rhubarb.

In the vege garden

Keep plant­ing to­ma­toes, corn, cour­gettes and French beans out in the garden. Treat your­selves in the months to come and plant a va­ri­ety of to­ma­toes. Now many garden cen­tres of­fer many of the heir­loom types of to­ma­toes along with the more mod­ern va­ri­eties. Go crazy and plant some black, some pur­ple or some pear shaped to­ma­toes. There are many the­o­ries on how to grow the best to­ma­toes. Gen­er­ally they like com­post-en­riched soil, a sunny, welldrained spot and a thick stake if they are tall grow­ing. When you plant them out, plant them deeper than the pot they came in. To­ma­toes can de­velop roots all along their stems. Some peo­ple pop a ta­ble­spoon of milk pow­der around the roots as they plant. Oth­ers pierce the stem with some cop­per wire to pro­tect the plants from disease. If you are a lazy gar­dener like me you can just ‘plant and leave’. No pinch­ing out lat­er­als, no stak­ing, no nip­ping out the first flow­ers. This is a per­ma­cul­ture method of let­ting the to­ma­toes mix and min­gle and grow to­gether form­ing a thicket of sorts. The fruit is pro­tected from birds, the plants are pro­tected from high winds and forms its own liv­ing mulch of leaves. Not to men­tion the fact that you have more time to do other things. This is also the month to plant French beans di­rectly in the ground, trans­plant cu­cum­ber, chilli, egg­plant and courgette plants so they can also get off to a crack­ing sum­mer start.

Com­post

Any re­main­ing com­post can be spread on the garden pro­vid­ing an ideal time to start to ac­cu­mu­late new in­gre­di­ents to con­struct a new pile. The best po­si­tion for a com­post pile is near a water source and some­where you can reach with a wheelbarrow.

Herbs Hys­sop

Hys­sop is a small woody shrub with aro­matic leaves and small blue flow­ers. Bees love the blos­som. White cab­bage but­ter­flies are also at­tracted to its flow­ers and some peo­ple say to plant hys­sop around your cab­bages to at­tract but­ter­flies onto the hys­sop rather than your bras­si­cas.

Dan­de­lions

This com­mon garden plant has a long tap root and bright yel­low flow­ers vis­ited by bees. The roots can be dried and used as a very poor (I think) cof­fee sub­sti­tute. The young leaves can be used in stir fries and sal­ads. The French cul­ti­vate the dan­de­lion which is sold as a veg­etable.

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