Ram­pant basil flavour of the month



Heat-lov­ing basil needs tem­per­a­tures of around 20°C to ger­mi­nate. Sow seed in trays and trans­plant when the seedlings are at least 5cm high. Or pick up seedlings at the gar­den cen­tre. I love pesto so I’ve planted large­leaved ‘Sweet Gen­ovese’ from Awa­puni Nurs­eries. I start har­vest­ing by pinch­ing out the top leaves of each stem as soon as the plants are es­tab­lished. This en­cour­ages bushy plants, ex­tra leaves and de­lays flow­er­ing. Don’t pick be­low the bot­tom set of leaves on a stem as it won’t re­sprout. Awa­puni Nurs­eries’ bun­dle of mixed basil va­ri­eties I’m grow­ing in a more dec­o­ra­tive way. Small leafed ‘Greek Mini’ is very cute in con­tain­ers. Pur­ple­leafed ‘Red Ru­bin’, pur­ple­flow­ered ‘Thai’ and ‘Cin­na­mon’ basil and white-flow­ered ‘Lemon’ basil are planted along­side dahlias in the flower bor­der. I let these plants ramp away and don’t dead­head them. They flower pro­lif­i­cally and are mag­nets for bees. Brush­ing against the leaves re­leases a won­der­ful scent too.

– Bar­bara Smith


The yel­low­ing leaves on my ‘Meyer’ lemon and lemon­ade tree are a cry for help. ‘Feed me, feed me’ the trees are say­ing in their nu­tri­ent-de­fi­cient state. Yel­low leaves usu­ally in­di­cate that the plants are de­fi­cient in mag­ne­sium, zinc or iron. I’m go­ing to green them up by dos­ing them with Yates Cit­rus Cure Zinc & Man­ganese Che­late. Cit­rus are heavy feed­ers so feed them lit­tle and of­ten with a spe­cial­ist cit­rus fer­tiliser ev­ery week from Septem­ber un­til March. Mulch them right out to the tree’s drip line as well, but don’t mulch around the trunk of the tree to avoid col­lar rot.

If you’re grow­ing cit­rus in con­tain­ers, feed them now and in sum­mer with a slow-re­lease fer­tiliser, then give them an ex­tra boost of TLC by ap­ply­ing a liq­uid fer­tiliser once a month. Re­fresh the pot­ting mix in pot­ted cit­rus ev­ery two years.

If you’ve just planted a new cit­rus tree and it’s flow­er­ing, re­mem­ber that it’s a good idea – al­though re­quires an ad­mirable amount of willpower – to take off the de­vel­op­ing fruit in the tree’s first sea­son so that it can de­velop a strong root struc­ture. If you can’t bring your­self to do that, know­ing that means no cit­rus next win­ter, com­pro­mise by re­mov­ing at least half of the fruit.

– Rachel Clare


If your to­ma­toes are flow­er­ing they need less ni­tro­gen (for leaf growth) and more potas­sium for fruit set. Feed once a week with a liq­uid feed such as Dal­tons Con­trolled Re­lease Tomato Fert or Yates Thrive Tomato Liq­uid Plant Food. Wa­ter well af­ter feed­ing. Re­duce to a fort­nightly feed once fruit has formed.

If you haven’t staked your plants yet, do it now be­fore they get too big and you dam­age the roots. Mine look a bit OTT right now un­der their tall stakes but I have ex­pec­ta­tions that they’ll achieve great heights of 1.5m at least!

– Rachel Clare


The first blowfy buzzed by and re­minded me to re­fresh the fly traps. A fe­male blowfly can lay around 2,000 eggs in a life­time. Deal­ing to a few flies in early sum­mer will cut down the num­bers later. Use a com­mer­cial trap and bait or make your own. Cut across a plas­tic bot­tle about one third of the way down from the top. Put bait in the bot­tom sec­tion. I use a mix­ture of yeast, a lit­tle sugar and some warm wa­ter which builds up a stink af­ter a cou­ple of days. Or use a small piece of meat, rot­ting fruit or cat food. In­vert the top. Add a wire han­dle and hang where flies tend to con­gre­gate – usu­ally in sunny,


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 shel­tered spots – but where the smell won’t bother you or the neigh­bours.

The flies can get in the hole at the top but can’t fly back out. They even­tu­ally die and fall into the liq­uid. The wa­ter level needs top­ping up now and then. Empty traps when they start to fill up. Warmer weather means other pests are gear­ing up for a breed­ing frenzy. Look out for fluffy bums (ju­ve­nile pas­sion­vine hop­pers), mos­quito wrig­glers, aphids, mealy bugs, green vege bugs and scale. Squash the early ar­rivals to slow the pop­u­la­tion ex­plo­sion. You won’t get them all – there’ll be some left to feed the preda­tory ben­e­fi­cial in­sects that will help main­tain a bal­ance.

– Bar­bara Smith

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