Cau­li­flower har­vest sea­son looms

Kapi-Mana News - - OUT & ABOUT - RACHEL OLDHAM

HAR­VEST CAU­LI­FLOWER

If you planted cauli seedlings back in late sum­mer or early au­tumn, they should now be ready to har­vest. Cau­li­flower takes 75-120 days af­ter trans­plant to ma­ture (de­pend­ing on the va­ri­ety), so plenty of room and a lit­tle pa­tience is re­quired for this crop. Har­vest the heads when they are tight and firm (as pic­tured). If you no­tice the heads on your plants are start­ing to sep­a­rate, that means they’re get­ting a bit old, so pick those first. Check for any slugs and snails which can make their way in­side.

The most com­mon is­sues with grow­ing cau­li­flower are tiny heads (known as ‘but­ton­ing’) and the fail­ure to pro­duce any­thing but an abun­dance of lush leaves. But­ton­ing is of­ten caused when seedlings are al­lowed to dry out or have be­come root­bound in their pun­net, but can also be caused by over­crowd­ing in the gar­den. Space plants 50cm apart for best re­sults. Too much leaf growth is usu­ally due to over­feed­ing. Bras­si­cas need rich soil, but feed them with fer­tiliser low in ni­tro­gen to help pro­mote the for­ma­tion of flower buds.

COMPILE YOUR SPRING ED­I­BLES SEED WISH LIST

The 2017/2018 Kings Seeds cat­a­logue is out now and full of new sea­son gar­den­ing in­spi­ra­tion. We’re al­ways ex­cited to see what new flow­ers, mi­cro­greens, herbs and veg­eta­bles will be avail­able. Grow­ing your ed­i­bles from seed is in­cred­i­bly sat­is­fy­ing and of­fers much greater value for money than buy­ing ready-grown seedlings in pun­nets from the gar­den cen­tre (al­though seedlings are a great so­lu­tion for a quick fix when you find your­self sud­denly run­ning short).

So what’s new this sea­son? I’m par­tic­u­larly in­trigued by oys­ter leaf (Merten­sia mar­itima) which is a cold-hardy Scot­tish peren­nial (re­lated to bor­age) with leaves that taste like oys­ters and ed­i­ble flow­ers.

There’s also a tra­di­tional Ja­panese spring onion called ‘Ip­pon Negi’ that re­sem­bles a baby leek and is grown in much the same way (earth­ing up around the stem to blanch it).

In the tomato se­lec­tion, we see three new or­ganic va­ri­eties ‘Ar­ti­san Blush’, ‘Indigo Ap­ple’ and ‘Sun­rise Bum­ble Bee’ as well as ‘Indigo Gold Berries’ cherry tomato which sounds fab­u­lous with its unique pur­ple and yel­low colour­ing.

You’ll also find Alexan­ders (Smyrnium olusatrum) as a new ad­di­tion to herbs, and in the mi­cro­greens sec­tion, three va­ri­eties of nas­tur­tiums are mak­ing an ap­pear­ance for the first time.

The ever-pop­u­lar Asian veg­eta­bles cat­e­gory con­tin­ues to ex­pand with the mini-bar­relshaped ‘Wa Wa Tsai’ Chi­nese cab­bage, ‘Asian Loki’ gourd and ‘Karela’ bit­ter melon.

There are also new va­ri­eties of cab­bage in­clud­ing ‘Mini Red’, cau­li­flower, onions, peas, Florence fen­nel, shal­lots, let­tuce, cap­sicums, ‘Red In­dian’ corn and wa­ter­melon.

Of course, all of the tried-andtrue favourites are in­cluded too, so start com­pil­ing your spring seed sow­ing list and get or­der­ing be­fore they sell out. Check out the new va­ri­eties and or­der on­line at kingsseeds.co.nz.

CLEAR GUTTERS AND DIG DRAINS

There’s noth­ing like a week­end of heavy rain to show you which parts of your gar­den need at­ten­tion. My lawn re­sem­bles a lake at the mo­ment so I’m dig­ging small drains with my spade to guide that pool­ing wa­ter else­where. Clear out leaves clog­ging gut­ter­ing and mend any bro­ken spout­ing. Over­flow­ing roof wa­ter cas­cad­ing down onto your gar­den will quickly wash away your valu­able soil and likely drown or dam­age any plants in the fir­ing line. It’s not fun by any means, but it’s one you’ll be glad you knocked off your list of win­ter jobs.

PLANT SPRING ONIONS OR RAISE FROM SEED IN TRAYS

I use lots of onions dur­ing win­ter – they go into just about 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 ev­ery­thing I cook. I don’t have space to grow large onions but make an ef­fort to grow my own spring onions. Pop in a pun­net of seedlings from the gar­den cen­tre or sow your own in trays or pots un­der cover. You can sow the seed di­rect but they’re very slow­grow­ing, so it’s eas­ier to raise them in trays filled with seedrais­ing mix, then trans­plant the seedlings to your vege bed when they reach 6-10cm tall.

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