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