Baby beets prove a great salad op­tion

Northern News - - GARDENING - RACHEL OLDHAM

grow­ing time if you’re in a hurry! Re­move the seedling plug from the pun­net with care so you don’t knock the roots too much.

Har­vest as baby beets from 6-7 weeks or let them grow to their full size for slic­ing or pre­serv­ing. Young beet­root leaves are also ed­i­ble. thin strip around the edge of your vege patch can be all you need. Sow a patch of wild­flow­ers or grow a mix of flow­ers and herbs in­clud­ing anise hys­sop, sage, laven­der, berg­amot, bor­age, thyme, corn­flow­ers, monarda, cal­en­dula, pur­ple tansy, marigolds and phacelia, to name but a few.

When mak­ing your gar­den a lit­tle more bee-friendly, here are some things to con­sider. Bees love pur­ple, white, yel­low and blue flow­ers best. Flow­ers planted in groups not only aid bees, they bring in but­ter­flies as well. Plant a range of dif­fer­ent-sized and shaped flow­ers and try to in­clude flow­ers for ev­ery sea­son. Avoid us­ing pes­ti­cides or spray­ing when flow­ers are in bloom. Pro­vide clean drink­ing wa­ter for bees.

The Septem­ber is­sue of NZ Gar­dener mag­a­zine (on sale now) has a free packet of bee-friendly wild­flower seeds for ev­ery reader. We’re call­ing on Ki­wis to sow th­ese seeds and sign up to Plan Bee by reg­is­ter­ing your gar­den in our in­ter­ac­tive map.

This month you can find out more about our ben­e­fi­cial in­sects, bees and pol­li­na­tors in a se­ries of sto­ries on www.homed.co.nz in­clud­ing Ruud Klein­paste’s look at why hon­ey­bees may pose a threat to our na­tive bees (click here to read); a fun quiz on pol­li­na­tors and close-up photos of the var­i­ous bees, wasps, hov­er­flies, bum­ble­bees and flies typ­i­cally found in our gar­dens.

FOR SPEEDY SAL­ADS SOW PEA MI­CRO­GREENS

The ar­rival of spring means the rapid re­turn of sal­ads to our diet but the gar­den is of­ten a lit­tle bare this time of year which can mean slim pick­ings when it comes to hav­ing enough leaves to eat. En­ter the hum­ble mi­cro­green. Th­ese young veg­etable (or herb) plants are har­vested at the baby leaf stage and are a fan­tas­tic stop-gap while you wait for your let­tuce crops to ma­ture.

Peas make some of the tasti­est mi­cro­greens I’ve ever eaten and are even eas­ier to grow. Sow the seeds thickly into a pot, cover lightly with seed-rais­ing mix and mist with wa­ter daily. Ex­pect to start pick­ing in about a fort­night. Try ‘Fiji Feath­ers’ from Kings Seeds.

PLANT MINT & TRIM STRAGGLY GROWTH

Dur­ing the win­ter months, mint can get rather un­tidy – or dies

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 down com­pletely – so be­fore it bursts back into full spring growth give plants a good trim. You can chop them right back to ground level if you wish. Def­i­nitely do this if there’s any sign of rust – those or­ange­coloured spots on the leaves. Mint has a very strong root sys­tem and will bounce back quickly once the tem­per­a­tures rise, so you needn’t fear be­ing with­out a crop for too long. You could al­ways pop in a cou­ple of new plants while you’re at it (you can never have too much). I’ve just planted some in a big pot – where its wan­der­ing ways will be con­tained.

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