Novem­ber Top & Flop CROPS

Lynda Hal­li­nan’s reg­u­lar round-up of the best and worst sea­sonal per­form­ers in her Hunua gar­den.

NZ Gardener - - The Good Life -

GLOBE AR­TI­CHOKES: It is my first rule of vege gar­den­ing: don’t plant it if you’re not go­ing to eat it. But it’s also a rule I’m will­ing to bend for globe ar­ti­chokes. I’d be lucky to eat one out of ev­ery dozen of these big-hearted edi­ble this­tles, and not just be­cause they are such a faff to trim, steam, dis­mem­ber and de­vour with gar­lic but­ter. (Hint: Wear rub­ber gloves when har­vest­ing the heads as the sap in their stems is in­cred­i­bly bit­ter and lingers on your fin­ger­tips.)

The prob­lem is that globe ar­ti­chokes look so gor­geous in the gar­den, in tight bud and in full psy­che­delic pur­ple bloom, that I’m al­ways hes­i­tant to be­head them.

Also, the nec­tar-rich flow­ers are a po­tent at­trac­tion for bum­ble­bees, who ap­pear anaes­thetised by the sugar hit and need some­where comfy to sleep it off be­fore fly­ing away. Some days it’s not un­com­mon to find half a dozen wob­bly bum­ble­bees stag­ger­ing on each bloom. OR­ANGES:

The huge, old, late-ripen­ing or­ange at our Tairua bach has de­vel­oped a habit of bi­en­nial bear­ing, which means a flop crop (like last spring, when we had next to no fruit) is fol­lowed by a top crop (this sea­son we’ll again be juic­ing by the bucket load).

Our or­ange tree is too tall to at­tempt cor­rec­tive in­ter­ven­tion but if you have an ap­ple or a pear tree that pulls this trick, thin­ning off up to half of the de­vel­op­ing fruitlets now can help to break the habit.

SAGE: The next time I see sage sold as a peren­nial herb at the gar­den cen­tre, I’m go­ing to lay a com­plaint about false ad­ver­tis­ing. Sage ( Salvia of­fic­i­nalis) is most def­i­nitely NOT a peren­nial in my herb patch. Some­times it’s not even an an­nual as it’s lucky to last six months be­fore rot­ting at the roots and collapsing in a wilted heap.

How can the jolly stuff be so dif­fi­cult to grow? I can’t keep it alive in pots (too dry) or gar­den beds (too wet). Its only sav­ing grace is that re­place­ments are cheap. STRAW­BER­RIES:

The rab­bits have re­turned. I wouldn’t mind shar­ing my straw­ber­ries but these van­dalous varmints are no longer sat­is­fied nib­bling around the edges of my beds. They have taken to dig­ging holes to nowhere, up­root­ing my plants as they go. I’m se­ri­ously con­tem­plat­ing ask­ing Santa for a small, yappy dog, but which breed? HAZEL­NUTS:

Is any­thing more frus­trat­ing than a ro­mance thwarted by bad tim­ing? Seven years ago I put in a hedge of two va­ri­eties of hazels – ’White­heart’ for nut pro­duc­ing and ’Merveille de Bow­illier’ as a pol­li­na­tor – but it seems this mis­matched pair just can’t get it to­gether. The male catkins come and go, shed­ding their dusty pollen be­fore the tiny pink flow­ers show up. All I can do is sigh and quote Rud­yard Ki­pling: “Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.