Scar­let run­ners just keep on run­ning

Feilding-Rangitikei Herald - - Gardening - LYNDA HAL­LI­NAN

flow­er­ing at the top of their climb­ing frame – and you can’t ask for more than a bean that does all the work for you. How­ever, if you pre­fer posh French green beans, sow an­nual ‘Blue Lake Run­ner’ now, or dwarf beans such as ‘Top Crop’. I find it bet­ter to sow dwarf beans ev­ery six weeks, rather than wait­ing for your plants to flower again af­ter their first main flush, as you never get as many beans the sec­ond time around. Sow beans direct, in full sun, spac­ing the seeds 20-30cm apart. Keep well-wa­tered once they start to pod up as fast­grow­ing beans are the most ten­der. This blight can be kept at bay by im­prov­ing air flow around the base of the plants by tak­ing off the older fo­liage dur­ing the sea­son, whereas late blight comes on rapidly and in­stantly ru­ins your crop. Late blight sees black­ened ar­eas on the stems, wilt­ing fo­liage and fruit rot­ting from the stem end. In hu­mid weather, the whole plant can wither, turn yel­low and turn up its toes in less than a week.

If you reg­u­larly lose your toma­toes to blight, con­sider grow­ing them in a com­pletely dif­fer­ent part of your gar­den, one that’s open to the wind.

To avoid (or lessen the im­pact of) blight this sum­mer, you can also spray with fungi­cides, such as Fun­gus Fighter or Cop­per Oxy­chlo­ride as a preven­ta­tive. Spray once a fort­night dur­ing the grow­ing sea­son. When spray­ing, don’t overdo it: ap­ply­ing these chem­i­cals at higher con­cen­tra­tions than stip­u­lated on the pack can dam­age the ten­der fo­liage.

To im­prove your chances of a good crop of toma­toes, thin the lower leaves (do this on a dry day us­ing clean se­ca­teurs) and be care­ful when wa­ter­ing to soak the soil, not the fo­liage. Mulching This column is adapted from the weekly e-zine, get grow­ing, from New Zealand Gar­dener mag­a­zine. For gardening ad­vice de­liv­ered to your in­box ev­ery Fri­day, sign up for Get Grow­ing at: get­grow­

af­ter heavy rain also traps soil mois­ture, keep­ing the plants’ roots nice and cool.

Some va­ri­eties of toma­toes are more re­sis­tant to blight than oth­ers, so ex­per­i­ment with a mix of hy­brid and heir­loom types. And don’t be dis­heart­ened by the oc­ca­sional lousy crop: some years the weather sim­ply con­spires against tomato grow­ers!

Keep toma­toes well fed from now on too, us­ing a liq­uid fer­tiliser that’s potas­si­u­men­riched for fruit qual­ity. Reg­u­lar wa­ter­ing is es­sen­tial as well, or you’ll end up with blos­som end rot.

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