Things to do for spring

South Waikato News - - SPORTS / TE PAPA HAKINAKINA -

Spring is in the air this month but don’t jump the gun – the soil in Au­gust is still cold, of­ten wa­ter­logged and crops won’t thrive if you act too soon! How­ever if win­ter has caused a bit of cabin fever for you, you can get out and get on with these nine things to do in the gar­den. Grow Wa­ter­cress Grow­ing your own wa­ter­cress is safer than go­ing for­ag­ing. Wild wa­ter­cress can lead to food poi­son­ing, as this pep­pery salad green is known to suck up con­tam­i­nants. Sow your own (try ‘‘Aqua Large Leaf’’ from Kings Seeds) in pots or trays of seed-rais­ing mix and, once grow­ing well, dunk your seedlings into a bucket of wa­ter. Change the wa­ter ev­ery cou­ple of days and rinse be­fore eat­ing. Plant ferns Get new ferns in while soil is cool and moist. Ferns like to set­tle in damp shady ar­eas, and now is the ideal time to plant them. Avoid spots that are frost-prone. Our favourites for shady ar­eas are the claylov­ing As­ple­nium ob­longi­folium; Blech­num dis­color, with its black new fo­liage, and the ground fern, Blech­num penna-ma­rina. Es­tab­lish new berries Give berry bushes space, sun and good sup­port. Rasp­ber­ries, boy­sen­ber­ries and thorn­less black­ber­ries do best in an open sit­u­a­tion (air cir­cu­la­tion re­duces the risk of fun­gal dis­eases that can spoil your crop). Train the canes up trel­lis or along wires. Give lawns some TLC In warmer parts of New Zealand lawns will re­spond to a top-dress­ing of fer­tiliser around now. If your grass is full of lawn weeds though, ease them out first or spray with Yates Tur­fix. Don’t sow bare patches un­til the overnight tem­per­a­tures are well above freez­ing. Tidy up Dis­pose of the last of au­tumn and win­ter’s growth. Ditch spent flow­ers, seed­heads from salvias, peren­nial grasses, can­nas, and the like to ex­pose basal shoots of new growth. Ro­tate your crops It’s a sim­ple strat­egy for soil – and plant – health. Crop ro­ta­tion doesn’t need to be com­pli­cated. Just don’t plan the same veges in the same lo­ca­tion year af­ter year. Draw a plan now. Try to be pa­tient Au­gust tends to be the cold­est, wettest month. If it feels like all your veges are grow­ing at a snail’s pace, you’re right. Few crops pros­per in cold, wa­ter­logged soil. Make life less mis­er­able for young plants with plas­tic or glass bell jars or a frost cloth over stakes to keep the soil a lit­tle warmer and drier. Check for scale Post rose prun­ing, check for scale in­sects. These flat, white in­sects can usu­ally be found on the lower parts of the stems of your roses. They hi­ber­nate in situ and will spring into ac­tion when the weather starts to warm up. Grab your­self a firm brush and scrape the blighters off the stems, then fol­low up with a spray of a min­eral oil such as Yates Con­queror Spray­ing Oil. Sow globe ar­ti­chokes Globe ar­ti­chokes are pretty enough to grow in your or­na­men­tal bor­ders but their ed­i­ble buds are a spring treat too. Sow now and your plants will pro­duce their first this­tle-like buds in late summer.

See more gar­den­ing ad­vice at NZ Gar­dener.

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