Time ripe for seed­har­vest­ing

Kapiti Observer - - WHAT’S ON - ROBERT GUYTON


Biennial veg­eta­bles and flow­ers that have fin­ished their dis­plays and are pre­sent­ing dried seeds can be har­vested now. Parsnips, car­rots, cel­ery, alexan­ders, Queen Anne’s lace (Dau­cus carota) and peren­ni­als such as par­cel, lo­vage and fen­nel all have an um­brel­lashaped flower struc­ture that makes col­lect­ing and dry­ing out their seeds easy.

Pick the seeds into a bowl and bring them in­side for a fi­nal dry­ing in the shade and out of the wind. Aim to do this when the day has warmed up and dried the seeds nat­u­rally and there will be few prob­lems with stor­age. Fun­gus can grow where seeds are still a lit­tle damp and that can spoil the col­lec­tion.

Once the un­nec­es­sary bits and pieces have been re­moved, the clean and dry seed can be stored in la­belled jars and kept some­where dry and dark.


If you keep bees, check on them reg­u­larly to see if they’ve been get­ting out of­ten enough to have built up a good sup­ply of honey for the com­ing cooler sea­sons. If they’ve been strug­gling against the wind or con­fined to their bar­racks by rough weather, they’ll likely be be­hind in their pro­duc­tion and may re­quire help from you in the form of dis­pen­sa­tion from har­vest­ing their honey – they might need it all to sur­vive. An­other thing to check is that their hive is shel­tered from the wind and no long grass or shrubs are shad­ing the boxes dur­ing the day. It’s al­ready shady enough for them this sea­son, with­out hav­ing that to con­tend with as well.


Move seedlings out from your tunnelhouse where they were sown as seeds last month

and harden them off in a shel­tered space in prepa­ra­tion for plant­ing out into the open gar­den. The rough con­di­tions we’ve had lately will pass and the tem­per­a­tures will rise to nor­mal lev­els as soon, as they say, as school starts again! I don’t know if that’ re­ally true, but I hope it is, as we’ve been very pa­tient. If we are blessed with a long, hot, late sum­mer and au­tumn, veges that are planted now will catch up and pro­duce good crops – well, per­haps it’s too late for sweet­corn and pump­kins, but south­ern gar­den­ers never give up and are ever hope­ful of pleas­ant sur­prises. An­other thing to re­mem­ber is to wa­ter your out­door seedlings as well. Although it may seem wet­ter than usual, the wind dries out soil very quickly, so any wa­ter the plants may have re­ceived can be lost to the air and they won’t do well as a re­sult of the dry­ness.


There’s been a lack of sunny days this sum­mer and, like plants, peo­ple need sun­light too, so when a patch of blue does ap­pear, it pays to drop every­thing and sneak out­side for a quick bask. Pro­duc­tiv­ity in plants falls when light lev­els are low, and the same thing hap­pens with us. A cheer­ful out­look makes all the dif­fer­ence, and a sunny, cloud­less day cer­tainly helps.


It’s been a re­mark­ably blus­tery sea­son, thanks to warmer-thanusual sea tem­per­a­tures over in Australia. Cli­mate change and the much-her­alded over-en­er­gised at­mos­phere is a re­al­ity for us on our ex­posed, skinny is­lands and wind is what we’re get­ting as a re­sult. Plants that have had to put 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 up with ex­tra pres­sure and more move­ment than they’re usu­ally ex­posed to break, and when they do, it’s un­wise (and unattrac­tive)

to leave them hang­ing or scat­tered about. I’m prun­ing dam­aged branches off some of my more brit­tle na­tive trees and shrubs, and pick­ing up the tall flower spikes of the echi­ums that were tow­er­ing so spec­tac­u­larly un­til the wind flat­tened them to the ground. It all makes for ex­cel­lent mulch and fire­wood, though, so I have no real com­plaints.

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