Fairies finding favour in gardens
INVITE THE LITTLE PEOPLE INTO YOUR GARDEN
Recently, while shopping at Kings Plant Barn in Henderson, Harry, my six-year-old, literally dragged me away from the hydrangeas so I could check out the range of miniature fairy garden accessories for sale. I tried to remain strong but I have a weakness when it comes to fairies and we went home with a sign post. It’s a slippery slope. The mythical miniatures collection has grown and we’ve now officially subdivided with some wee folk who have taken up residence in one of our raised beds, a comfortable height for mini landscaping.
Fairy gardens can be made anywhere. When I was a kid, an ice cream container, some dirt and some moss from the driveway sufficed (you can even buy special moss for fairy gardens), but any kind of plant pot with decent potting mix will do. Fairies and gnomes prefer low-growing plants, such as alyssum, heartsease, dwarf snapdragons, baby tears, scleranthus, violets, lobelia and creeping thyme.
Do you have wee folk at your place? Email me your photos at email@example.com.
PLANT CELERY FOR WINTER SOUPS
Wistful thoughts of cooler days have made me think of soup season, so I’m pleased that my celery, which I planted months ago and which sat and did not very much for several months, is thickening up. Celery consistently appears on the USbased Environmental Working Group’s ‘‘Dirty Dozen‘‘ list of foods containing the highest residual pesticides. I can’t vouch for commercial growers here, but it’s definitely worth growing your own.
Celery is a hungry crop, so prepare the ground well with compost, organic matter and blood and bone or a general garden fertiliser, then side dress it with more blood and bone twice during the four and a half months it takes to grow to maturity. Celery is originally a swamp plant, so keep the water up to prevent it from bolting to seed. Plant it successively from now until July. Try fast-growing ‘Slowbolt Polo’ from Egmont Seeds or ‘Tall Utah’ or red-andwhite-stockinged ‘Peppermint Stick’ from Kings Seeds or buy seedlings at the garden centre.
WEED IT BEFORE YOU SEED IT
All this heat and rain has nurtured a new generation of weeds the size of small cats in my perennial border. Fortunately, because the soil is damp, the weeds have been satisfyingly easy to pull out. Not so easy to extricate is convolvulus which has snuck through from the neighbours’ and is doing its best strangulation work. I’m going to take a leaf out of colleague Barbara Smith’s book and tack black plastic around the bottom of the fence line to provide a barrier.
Mostly weeds are just plants growing in the wrong place, but if they’re hogging space, strangling your plants or just unsightly, dig, hoe or fork them out, roots and all. Adding a 50mm layer of mulch to the soil will help prevent new weeds from emerging.
Compost any weeds without seeds. If you have noxious weeds, such as tradescantia, place the weeds in a plastic rubbish bag with a handful of soil and water, tie up the top and leave them for several months until they’re dead as doornails. Find out more about invasive weeds at weedbusters.org.nz.
BERRY NEXT GENERATION
What do Bruce Springsteen and strawberries have in common? Baby they were born to run. Once strawberry plants have almost finished fruiting for the season, they send out snaking tendrils with little plantlets attached to them, which are quickly starting to form root systems of their own. The baby plants are genetically identical to the parent plant and are the perfect way to increase your strawberry stock for free. The easiest way to help them along is to peg the plantlets into the ground to secure them. Use bent kebab sticks or wire. If you’re growing strawberries in
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 pots, simply place small containers of soil or potting mix beneath each plantlet and peg them in. Once they take root, the umbilical cord to the parent plant will naturally shrivel and break over time – or you can snip them off and leave them growing until you’re ready to shift them to a better spot in your garden. Be sure to snip off any tendrils that aren’t attached to the parent plant as these will take energy from your plantlet.