The fresh­est of fresh sal­ads – so easy

North Taranaki Midweek - - GARDENING - BAR­BARA SMITH

PLANT A SALAD BOWL TO BRIDGE THE HUN­GRY GAP

A con­tainer full of cu­tand-comea­gain salad greens makes har­vest­ing a breeze. Just pick a leaf or two off each plant – straight into the salad spin­ner and work­day lunches are sorted. Good choices are spinach, loose leaf let­tuces, co­rian­der, mesclun, rocket, Asian greens, mizuna, mus­tard, radishes and beets.Mi­cro­greens can be popped in too.

Greens grown rapidly don’t get a chance to be bit­ter so it’s worth cos­set­ing the con­tainer in a warm place where you can give it daily at­ten­tion. Keep it evenly wa­tered and liq­uid feed weekly with sea­weed fer­tiliser or worm tea.

Cover with a cloche for pro­tec­tion from birds, cats and the weather. Salad greens grown this way can be much closer to­gether than those in the gar­den. Pick­ing leaves daily makes more room and if nec­es­sary some seedling can be thinned out. Plant a new con­tainer in two to three weeks ready to har­vest when the first one is fin­ished.

PLANT GLADIOLI BULBS FOR SUM­MER

Gladioli come in so many colours there’s one for ev­ery plant­ing scheme. There’s a choice of slim, del­i­cate or large ruf­fled blooms. Be­ing tall and slim they fit in around spring flow­er­ing plants, ready to strut their stuff when the early bloomers have done their dash.

Corms are in gar­den cen­tres now. Choose firm, chunky ones that haven’t dried out or gone soft. Plant any time from now un­til the end of De­cem­ber. They flower around 100 days af­ter plant­ing so if you plant a batch ev­ery cou­ple of weeks you’ll have months of blooms.

Plant 15cm apart and 8-10cm deep in a sunny place with good drainage. In flower bor­ders, blooms make a big­ger im­pact planted in groups among other plants rather than lined up in a row. How­ever, gladioli are ex­cel­lent cut flow­ers so can be grown in rows in a cut­ting gar­den or even the vege patch.

Tall va­ri­eties may need stak­ing – ei­ther a stake per corm or a frame­work of stakes and string for a groups of plants to grow through. Keep evenly wa­tered so the soil is just moist. Un­even wa­ter­ing can lead to bent spikes as the plants go through pe­ri­ods of slower and faster growth. Mulch to re­tain mois­ture and cut down on weeds. Don’t use an­i­mal ma­nure or high ni­tro­gen fer­tiliser.

For cut flow­ers, se­lect stems which have only a cou­ple of flo­rets at the bot­tom start­ing to open. Cut the stem with­out crush­ing so it can take up wa­ter in the vase. Leave be­hind the fo­liage which will nour­ish the corm for next year’s flow­ers. Place cut stems in luke­warm wa­ter to pre­vent wilt­ing.

Sap-suck­ing thrips can be a nui­sance in hot, dry weather espe­cially on plants stressed by lack of wa­ter. A blue sticky trap smeared with pe­tro­leum jelly will trap some but if num­bers get out of con­trol spray­ing might be needed.

PRO­TECT BIRDS FROM STRIK­ING WIN­DOWS

One gar­den task I’d rather avoid is bury­ing wood pi­geons which have died af­ter crash­ing into a win­dow. Thou­sands of birds are killed or se­ri­ously in­jured this way each year. One way to pre­vent bird strike is to ap­ply de­cals that re­flect ul­tra­vi­o­let light, which birds can see but we can’t. To birds the de­cals glow brightly, giv­ing warn­ing of an ob­struc­tion. They are avail­able from Bird Res­cue Whanganui/ Manawatu Trust. Have you got a tried and true method for pre­vent­ing bird strike at your place? Send your sug­ges­tion to in­box@get­grow­ing.co.nz.

PEST PA­TROL FOR SLUGS AND SNAILS

Walk­ing to work very early one damp morn­ing I spot­ted hun­dreds of snails on the white picket fences lin­ing street af­ter street of Pon­sonby vil­las. It re­minded me to go on a snail hunt at home.

A snail can lay up to 120 eggs at a time ev­ery six weeks or so. Ev­ery snail dis­posed of now won’t be around to con­trib­ute 500 or more ba­bies to the po­ten­tial ex­plo­sion over the rest of the sea­son.

My usual hunt­ing tech­nique is to take a late evening stroll with a bucket of hot wa­ter and a torch, but this year I have a new weapon. It’s

a nifty beanie with built in LED lights so I’ve got both hands free to gather the blighters.

Top snail hang­outs at my place

GET GROW­ING

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 are on the strappy leaves of di­etes and bulbs, un­der the rims of glazed pots and among bromeli­ads. You can even make tempt­ing places for them to hang out so you can gather them up eas­ily. Half grape­fruit skins placed up­side­down are ideal. Prop the skins up slightly on one side so slugs and snails can slither in un­der­neath.

Feed the corpses to the thrushes and black­birds the next morn­ing.

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