Fe­bru­ary gar­den­ing

North Harbour News - - HOME LIVING -

Sum­mer be­gins wind­ing down in Fe­bru­ary, but this is of­ten the month that sees the most growth in the gar­den.

Ve­g­ies to sow

Sil­ver­beet grows read­ily from seed and is one of the best of the cut-and-comea­gain ve­g­ies. Sow sil­ver­beet seeds straight into gar­den beds and keep moist through the ger­mi­na­tion pe­riod. Start pick­ing the out­side leaves as soon as they are big enough to be use­ful.

Yates has the tra­di­tional, iron-rich Ford­hook Gi­ant sil­ver­beet in its range, as well as the strik­ing red-stemmed sil­ver­beet.

Flow­ers to sow

Vi­o­las are plain-clothed pan­sies. They don’t of­ten have the fancy faces that pan­sies flaunt, but they are tougher and cheerier. Yates Vi­ola Toy­land pro­duces a brightly coloured mix of blooms.

Re­move dead flow­ers, con­tinue feed­ing with Thrive Flower & Fruit and they’ll pro­duce a show that will last for months. They’ll even cope with frost.

Feed in Fe­bru­ary

If you’re us­ing a bark or wood­chip mulch, its par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant to feed plants well. As these mulches break down they take ni­tro­gen out of the soil, which runs the risk of starv­ing your plants.

Scrape back the mulch layer, spread fer­tiliser ( Dy­namic Lifter pel­lets or Na­tures Way Bio-Gold) can be used around all plants, wa­ter well and then re­place the mulch.

In most ar­eas, when pre­par­ing beds for new veg­etable plant­ings, the soil will be sweeter if you add some lime or dolomite.

Prune in Fe­bru­ary

Re­move seed head from aga­pan­thus be­fore they spread their seeds. Re­move de­vel­op­ing seed pods, leav­ing just the flower stalks, then al­low them to dry be­fore spray-paint­ing the stems in a de´ cor-friendly colour. These painted stalks will make strik­ing ad­di­tions to flo­ral ar­range­ments.

Fe­bru­ary pest watch

Watch out for po­rina cater­pil­lars eat­ing grass leaves. These grubs hide in bur­rows in the soil and emerge at night to munch on the lawn. Grass grubs, too, which are the lar­vae of bee­tles, can dam­age the lawn at this time of year. Both pests can be con­trolled with Yates Soil In­sect Killer gran­ules that come in an easy-to-ap­ply sprin­kle pack.

Fe­bru­ary job file

Har­vest stone fruit and prune im­me­di­ately af­ter­wards if you want to get the prun­ing job done. These days many fruit tree ex­perts ad­vo­cate post-har­vest prun­ing of sum­mer fruits.

Plant of the month

The Aus­tralian na­tive gre­vil­leas are be­com­ing more and more pop­u­lar in New Zealand gar­dens.

Bi­coloured Gre­vil­lea Peaches and Cream (pic­tured) is a favourite. It reaches medium shrub height, grows in a wide range of soils and flow­ers for much of the year. A plant in full bloom will make a very spe­cial gift for Valen­tine’s Day.

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