Pamper time for Christmas goodies
KEEPWATCH ON CHRISTMAS DINNER CROPS
Pamper your peas, potatoes and any other crops you may have planted earlier with Christmas dinner in mind. If you are to succeed in providing new potatoes and freshly picked peas for the festive midday meal, you’ll need to keep a close eye on them, water regularly, feed as often as they will tolerate and keep any pests at bay. Make sure you visit those parts of your garden regularly as problems can crop up quickly when you’re not paying close attention. Check the leaves top and bottom and squish aphids, slugs and green vege bugs, if they have taken up residence. If you don’t mind the subtle taste and smell of pesticides on your Christmas meal, by all means spray against pests, but I prefer my food to be free of that dark perfume. This special meal should be fragrant with scents of mint, fruit mince, stuffing and plum duff, and with a glass of sparkling white! – Robert Guyton
COVER YOUR CURRANTS
The blackbirds at my place have already made serious inroads into my redcurrant crop and won’t stop until I’ve draped all the bushes with netting. They’ll still try to get in, and will succeed occasionally, but there’ll be enough for us all, so long as I get the netting job done in time. Bird scarers don’t work for long, in my experience – be they flashy, noisy or even human-like – so don’t rely on them to keep your currants safe. Unless you can train a falcon or hawk to hover over your garden all day long, you will have to put up some kind of physical barrier between the blackbirds and thrushes and your berries. – Robert Guyton
CHECK SEEDS GROWING IN TUNNELHOUSES
Keep close watch on the seeds you’ve sown in pottles and trays in the extra-warm climate inside your glass or tunnelhouse. It can get toasty in there, as we discovered last week with very hot temperatures catching out those who didn’t open the vents in their hot houses or hadn’t watered as deeply as they should have. Sudden, unexpected hot weather can wipe out newly sprouted seedlings, burning them to a crisp and there’s no recovering from that sort of roasting. Keep your tunnelhouse doors open when the skies are clear and there’s no sign of a cooling breeze. You might find that birds will come in for a meal of salad greens – your young seedlings that is – so a curtain of netting would be a good investment against their attentions. – Robert Guyton
PINCH OUT THE TIPS OF YOUR BROAD BEANS
Pay a visit to your broad bean patch and pinch out the growing tips to add to your salad bowl. Losing the tip won’t cause any problems; the beans will grow on just as strongly
as before and their reduced height might help them if strong winds blow up and try to lay them flat, as often happens around this time of year. Those fresh, tender tips make good eating and look interesting in a salad that might otherwise be just lettuce. Throw in some miner’s lettuce and chickweed as well and really excite your guests. – Robert Guyton
KEEP AN EYE ON THE HEALTH OF YOUR CHOOKS
Think about the health of your hens. They need water as much as you do and while you can easily turn on a tap and fill a glass with cool H2O, hens are not so lucky; for a start their claws are not suited to tap-turning, but more importantly, they are not always free to leave their runs to find water on hot days, so you must bring it to them.
Hens like their water to be clean, but have the habit of despoiling it with their tendency to fling dirt about with their feet, so help them out by cleaning their dish regularly and refilling it with cool, clear water. – Robert Guyton 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
MOVE POTTED PLANTS INTO SHELTER/SHADE
If you’re growing crops in pots, move them out of direct sun for the next few weeks. Shift them so that they either get morning or afternoon sun, but shade for at least half the day. This not only reduces severe issues with evaporation, it keeps their roots cool and reduces the likelihood that they will bolt to seed too early. Give potted plants a daily soak and sit large saucers under the pots to act as a reservoir. Move houseplants to cooler rooms in your home as well.
As soon as you head off on holidays, weeds seem to double their resolve to breed and set seed in your plot. If you haven’t time for a thorough weeding session, then set aside
a moment to snip off any flower heads. Any weeds not in flower can go straight in the compost or dug into empty beds.