in the veg­etable gar­den

NZ Lifestyle Block - - IN JANE’S GARDEN -

FALLEN GROWTH will be sprawl­ing around the gar­den as you fin­ish har­vest­ing for the year. The residue from crops such as pump­kins and corn can be chopped up to has­ten break­down, cov­ered with fresh horse ma­nure – be­cause it will have all win­ter to rot down too – and then cov­ered again with ei­ther black plas­tic, car­pet or a thatch of hay or straw.

Black plas­tic us­age in our gar­den is one of the main ways we can con­trol weeds and man­age to save our backs. Its use has been the cause of much de­bate con­sid­er­ing my strong dis­like of us­ing plas­tic, but on bal­ance this is an on­go­ing com­pro­mise. The plas­tic is light enough to move around and folds up eas­ily to cover path­ways and con­trol the weeds in the grow­ing sea­sons. It lasts for years, pro­vides cover for the soil, or­gan­isms and crea­tures against our high rain­fall, and we can’t find any bet­ter al­ter­na­tive. How­ever, sug­ges­tions are al­ways wel­come!

There is al­ways the con­sid­er­a­tion of in­tro­duc­ing more weed seeds into the soil with the ad­di­tion of old hay and horse ma­nure but when spring time warms the soil, we pull back the black plas­tic, add lime if we didn’t ear­lier on, and let the weeds come away. Then we kill them by cov­er­ing the bed again with the plas­tic.

Then we re­peat the process: off comes the plas­tic, another crop of weeds comes away and back goes the cover again. We will re­peat this process up to four or five times if the sea­son per­mits and it does help with weed con­trol.

The bonus is, each time the weeds are smoth­ered there is the wel­come ad­di­tion of more hu­mic mat­ter to the soil, and it’s good worm fod­der as well.

Although it’s start­ing to get cold in May, there is usu­ally time and warmth enough left for another plant­ing of mizuna, rocket and cos let­tuce.

We also have lovely, lovely fei­joas, some of the eas­i­est small trees to grow and all they re­quire is a lit­tle fer­til­ity. We cer­tainly get speedy as we process buck­ets and buck­ets of these es­sen­tial lit­tle green jew­els of taste and sweet­ness.

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