Get them in the ground

From let­tuce to lark­spur, the time is ripe to plant ed­i­ble crops and sum­mer flow­ers. And, says Mary Lovell-smith, many can go straight into the soil.

The Dominion Post - Your Weekend (Dominion Post) - - Gardening -

ED­I­BLES

• Sow, sow, sow – in seed trays un­der cover and in

the gar­den un­less the soil is too wet and cold. • Pre­pare beds for sow­ing by break­ing up soil to a fine tilth. Gen­er­ally, the smaller the seed, the finer the soil – but also the shal­lower it will be sown. • Root crops, such as car­rots, will fork or have other dis­tor­tions if grown in soil that is too heavy. Lighten it by adding river sand and com­post, or choose a ro­tund, rather than cy­clin­dri­cal, va­ri­ety of carrot. • Sow small quan­ti­ties of the likes of let­tuce, radish, spring onions, car­rots ev­ery fort­night or so to en­sure con­ti­nu­ity of sup­ply, and avoid the glut/famine sce­nario. • Let­tuce (and as a rule, most root crops) are best

sown where they are to grow. • Sow beet­root, co­rian­der, rocket, spinach di­rect

into the soil. • Cap­sicum, chilli, corn, courgette, egg­plant, mel­ons of all sorts, pump­kin and tomato may be started now un­der cover for plant­ing out later when the soil is warmer. • Plant cel­ery and sil­ver beet. • Early pota­toes’ sprouts may be push­ing up through the soil. If they are, cover them lightly with peas­traw or hoe up some soil around them. Main­crop pota­toes can go in this month. • Sow fruit seeds – such as cape goose­ber­ries,

tamar­illo and pas­sion­fruit – un­der cover.

OR­NA­MEN­TALS

• Plants grown in con­tain­ers will wel­come a top- dress­ing of com­post to help them through the com­ing months of growth. • Di­vide sum­mer-flow­er­ing peren­ni­als if need be – if the clump has grown too large or is look­ing tired, or to bulk up plants. Usu­ally ev­ery two to three years is op­ti­mum. • Di­vide hostas be­fore their leaves ap­pear.

Di­vide helle­bores and prim­u­las af­ter flow­er­ing. • Prune back to about 60cm any or­na­men­tal shrubs grown for their colour­ful stems (such as the red-stemmed cor­nus and wil­low) or large leaves (such as cer­cis, smoke bush and paulow­nia). Then fer­tilise. • An­nual flow­ers that may be sown now di­rectly into the gar­den in­clude cal­en­dula, lark­spur, marigold, nas­tur­tium, nigella, night-scented stock, scabiosa, snap­dragon and sun­flower. For the bees and other ben­e­fi­cial in­sects, sow some nec­tar and pollen-rich flow­ers, such as alyssum, bish­ops flower, corn­flower, Shirley pop­pies and phacelia – or try a ready­made wild­flower blend of­fered by most seed com­pa­nies. • Sow peren­ni­als now for flow­er­ing next year. It’s a cheap and re­ward­ing way to get bulk num­bers of your favourite peren­ni­als.

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