Get your house in or­der

The grow­ing sea­son is about to be­gin in earnest. Time to plant seeds, prop­a­gate shrubs and wash those green­house win­dows, says Mary Lovell-smith.

The Press - Your Weekend (The Press) - - Gardening -


• Sow root crops – such as beetroot, car­rot and parsnips – directly into the soil. Be a lit­tle ad­ven­tur­ous and add swede and turnips to your seed shop­ping list this year. Baby turnips and fresh swedes are a true de­light. • Plant potatoes (if their sprouts are about 1cm long) and Jerusalem ar­ti­chokes. Sow capsicums, chill­ies, egg­plants, mel­ons, pumpkins, and toma­toes in trays un­der shel­ter, ready for plant­ing out when the last frost is well over (in most places this won’t be un­til deep into Novem­ber to be safe). There is no ad­van­tage to plant­ing them out too early, as any cold weather will check growth. Set pheromone codling moth traps on ap­ple trees and check them ev­ery now and then. When the num­bers caught start to build up, it’s time to spray.


• Glasshouses should be prepped for the new grow­ing sea­son – wash all the glass with soapy wa­ter and re­plen­ish the soil with com­post. If you’re plan­ning on grow­ing toma­toes or cu­cum­bers, then get the strings ready for them to climb up. Even when grow­ing toma­toes out­side, a string dan­gling from a stake makes for easy ty­ing up of toma­toes – sim­ply twist it around the main stem ev­ery time it grows 12cm or so, or more of­ten if the main stem looks like it needs it.


• Sow an­nu­als such as clarkia, corn­flow­ers, gode­tia, lark­spur, pop­pies directly into the gar­den. More ten­der an­nu­als, such as zin­nias and asters may be sown in seed­trays and planted out in Novem­ber. • Plant sum­mer-flow­er­ing bulbs and tu­bers, such as glad­i­oli, hip­peas­trum, lilies, zant­edeschia and dahlias. In­crease your stock of light shrubs – such as abu­tilon, fuch­sia and tuber­ous be­go­nias, among others – by cut­ting off new growths and in­sert­ing them in pots of sandy soil. Mois­ten well, and plant out in gar­den when a good sys­tem of roots has de­vel­oped. Once au­tumn-sown pop­pies and Russell lupins start flow­er­ing, dead-head reg­u­larly to pro­long their flow­er­ing.


• Spring means new growth, and new plants. Keep a look out in gar­den cen­tres and cat­a­logues for some of the sea­son’s hottest new­bies. • Com­pact plants are ideal for smaller gar­dens – for ex­am­ple ‘Dwarf Snack’, a most cute cap­sicum, grow­ing no more than 35cm. Ti­bouch­i­nas are more com­monly pur­ple and spread­ing, but ‘Peace Baby’ is white and com­pact, reach­ing a me­tre by a me­tre and flow­er­ing from au­tumn to spring. Look out for the new fra­grant white lupin wow­ing gar­den­ers. Lupi­nus nanus ‘Snow Pixie’ grows only 35cm high and ma­tures in 90 days.

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