The con­tin­ual magic of new sea­son pota­toes

Kapi-Mana News - - GARDENING - LYNDA HALLINAN

POTA­TOES

Pota­toes are quite pos­si­bly my favourite thing to grow. Slip­ping rows of seed spuds into deep trenches and wait­ing for those leafy tops to rocket up while fat tu­bers swell be­low the soil is as mag­i­cal as watch­ing daf­fodils bloom from dor­mant bulbs. Sprout the seed pota­toes first. Just lay them in a sin­gle layer in a box un­til their gog­gle-eyes have 1-2cm sprouts, then they are ready to go into the ground. They’ll take about three weeks to emerge, so if you live in a part of New Zealand that gets late frosts, keep a roll of frost cloth handy.

To pre­pare the soil for plant­ing, dig over the ground to a spade-depth and add com­post (not too much as it leads to potato scab) and a light dress­ing of gen­eral NPK fer­tiliser. Dig trenches 20cm deep and space your seed pota­toes 40-50cm apart (for early va­ri­eties like ‘Jersey Benne’, ‘Swift’ and ‘Rocket’) or 60-80cm apart for main crop­pers like ‘Agria’ or ‘Sum­mer De­light’ (still my favourite for its speed, size and vigour). Then mound up the soil over the pota­toes... and wait. Na­ture does all the rest of the work. Lynda Hallinan

BROC­COLI

Broc­coli, cab­bages and cauliflow­ers are all easy to raise your­self from seed sown ei­ther in in­di­vid­ual cell trays (like the ones pic­tured here) or in re­cy­cled plas­tic pun­nets or trays.

These bras­si­cas take about 160 days from plot to plate... which means that if you get them in the ground now, they should be ready to eat be­fore the white cab­bage but­ter­fly is at its worst in sum­mer.

Or, you can speed up the process by trans­plant­ing pun­nets of seedlings from the gar­den centre.

These will al­ready be at least a month old, which means they’ll be ready to har­vest by late Novem­ber.

Feed trans­planted bras­si­cas with liq­uid fer­tiliser and cover with net­ting if you have chooks or pukekos at your place, or they’ll at­tack those baby leaves. Keep watch for slugs and snails too – you may need to lay bait.

START COM­POST

Hav­ing a tidy up? Put all your win­ter prun­ings to good use by lay­er­ing them at the bot­tom of

a new com­post heap. This is one of the few times of the year when our gar­dens pro­duce as much car­bon-rich ‘‘brown’’ waste (fallen leaves, dried stalks and twigs) as nitro­gen-rich ‘‘green’’ waste, es­pe­cially while lawns are on the go-slow and don’t need reg­u­lar mow­ing.

The best spot for a com­post heap is some­where sunny but out of sight, as very few com­post heaps make at­trac­tive gar­den fea­tures. 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: get­grow­ing.co.nz

HERBS

If you have a small gar­den, it’s still pos­si­ble. Just plant them in pots. Later in the sea­son, an­nual herbs such as dill, chervil, basil and co­rian­der can all be sprin­kled in tubs or trays to cut as baby leaves, while peren­nial herbs, which are gen­er­ally tough enough to with­stand the hot, dry con­di­tions in most con­tain­ers, can be grown year-round.

Spring means new pota­toes.

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