Spring into ac­tion

Your gar­den, ly­ing dor­mant over win­ter, is about to spring into ac­tion.

Element - - Element Promotion - JANET LUKE GAR­DEN­ING

Spring is here and this month you’ll see ev­ery­thing start to move in the gar­den. Buds, shoots, blos­som and seeds are sprout­ing. There is still a good chance of a cold snap – par­tic­u­larly down the coun­try – and a late spring frost can wreak havoc on ten­der new plants.

Ripe for the pick­ing

Broc­coli, Brus­sels sprouts, cab­bage, car­rots and cau­li­flower are all abun­dant. Fresh rhubarb is at its best right now, per­fect for a crum­ble.

In the vege gar­den

As the days warm it is hard to stop your­self from dream­ing of sun-ripened toma­toes and new pota­toes. You would not be the first gar­dener to think about get­ting some new tomato plants planted and staked in prepa­ra­tion for your sum­mer crop, out­door tem­per­a­tures may still be too cold for suc­cess­ful grow­ing of these ten­der sum­mer crops. One harsh back-to-win­ter night can kill these plants off quickly. If not killed by the cold these young plants will of­ten just sit and sulk un­til the warmer days ar­rive and you gain no head start on your sum­mer tomato bounty any­way. Broad beans sown over win­ter should now be flow­er­ing. I have been grow­ing an old heir­loom va­ri­ety which has a lovely pink red flower. If you have grown the taller va­ri­eties pro­vide some sort of sup­port. This spring’s El Nino weather pat­tern is forecast to bring us a very windy sea­son and these tall-grow­ing plants can easily be blown off their feet, es­pe­cially if they are weighed down with a crop of pods.

Ur­ban or­chard

Many fruit trees are start­ing to awaken from their win­ter slum­ber. Most grow best un­der a sys­tem of per­ma­nent mulch. Reap­ply com­post or mulch around the tree af­ter re­mov­ing weeds. Now is a good time to prune cit­rus trees. A good rule is to prune so that a bird can fly through the tree. Hard prun­ing in­creases light and air flow to the trunk. This changes the en­vi­ron­ment and helps to de­ter cit­rus tree borer, white­fly and aphids nat­u­rally with­out the use of harsh chem­i­cals.

Top bar bee­keep­ing

It is a le­gal re­quire­ment that all hives are in­spected regularly for Amer­i­can Foul­brood. This is a se­ri­ous bac­te­rial in­fec­tion of the brood. The only treat­ment here in New Zealand is to kill the bees and de­stroy the hive by burn­ing. If you at­tend a course and sit and pass a sim­ple mul­tichoice ques­tion­naire you can in­spect your own hives. If you don’t have this qual­i­fi­ca­tion then you need to get some­one who has, to in­spect your hives be­tween Au­gust and the end of Novem­ber. They then need to fill out the pa­per­work for you. The process is sim­ple enough. The brood frames are checked for signs and symp­toms of dis­ease and only takes a few min­utes. If you do not have a bee men­tor or friend who can do this for you the best place to con­tact is your lo­cal bee club. A bee club will have peo­ple avail­able to do these checks for you, of­ten for free, but some­times for a small fee. If is very im­por­tant to get these checks done. Not only is it a le­gal bee­keep­ing re­quire­ment but it is part of a na­tion­wide strat­egy to de­crease the preva­lence of this de­struc­tive dis­ease from all our hives.

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