In synch with the sea­son

The Tribune (NZ) - - GARDENING -

Tra­di­tion­ally, Labour Week­end has been the time for plant­ing out veg­eta­bles and flow­ers. And not just be­cause it’s a long week­end. By about the end of Oc­to­ber the pos­si­bil­ity of frost is fairly un­likely so it’s rel­a­tively safe for the ten­der plants.

Hardier bras­si­cas, silverbeet, let­tuce and peas can be planted prior to Labour Week­end.

Pota­toes too, keep­ing emerg­ing shoots cov­ered to pre­vent frost dam­age.

They should be ready to harvest for Xmas day.

At Labour Week­end un­leash corn, beans, beet­root, radish, car­rots, parsnips, pump­kins, squash and mel­ons.

Pre-ger­mi­nated and sprouted tomato plants, cu­cum­ber and kumera should be ready to go too, so long as the soil has warmed up and the chill fac­tors less­ened.

You’ll have bet­ter strike rates too if you keep these plants on the dry side.

Plants grown in con­tain­ers can do well in a glasshouse be­fore be­ing hard­ened off or sprayed with Va­por­gard for plant­ing out­doors when the weather has set­tled.

No glasshouse? Heat­ing the soil is im­por­tant to en­cour­age ger­mi­na­tion, root de­vel­op­ment and early growth.

To plant an early crop of dwarf beans, make a trench about 10 cm deep and 10cm wide.

Fill it al­most to the top with lawn clip­pings and tram­ple down.

Sprin­kle with Wally’s Cal­cium & Health or soft gar­den lime.

Then add a dress­ing of blood and bone, an­i­mal ma­nure or sheep ma­nure pel­lets, Rok Solid, a sprin­kling of BioPhos and cover with a good pur­chased com­post made from an­i­mal ma­nures not green waste.

Place the seeds onto this com­post and spray with a combo of Magic Botan­i­cal Liq­uid (MBL) and My­cor­rcin to speed up ger­mi­na­tion. Cover with more com­post.

The heat from the break­ing down grass clip­pings will warm the com­post above to en­cour­age ger­mi­na­tion and good root de­vel­op­ment.

Plants un­der cover will grow twice as quickly as un­shel­tered plants.

To keep cold winds, late frosts, cats and birds off, use #8 wire hoops about 20cm at the high point, to sup­port clear plas­tic film or crop cover ap­pro­pri­ately weighted down at the edges.

This mini tun­nel house will pro­vide pro­tec­tion for the young plants.

Af­ter they’ve es­tab­lished, pick a warm day and fold the cover back to start hard­en­ing off. Re­cover at night. Re­peat two or three times be­fore re­mov­ing the cover com­pletely.

For taller grow­ing plants such as bras­si­cas, make half-me­tre tall hoops from rigid alka­thene pipe.

An al­ter­na­tive is to place 2-litre clear plas­tic fruit juice con­tain­ers with the bot­tom cut off and the cap re­moved over each seedling.

For zuc­chini, half fill a 45-litre con­tainer with pur­chased green waste free com­post, add grass clip­pings, chook ma­nure, Cal­cium & Health, Rok Solid, blood & bone, Bio Boost, and BioPhos, then cover with more com­post.

Plant and wa­ter in with some MBL & My­cor­rcin, and keep cov­ered un­til the weather set­tles.

With­out bum­ble bees you’ll need to pol­li­nate the fe­male flow­ers by hand.

Also check for in­sects un­der the leaves. Spray any with Wally’s Neem Tree Oil and Key Pyrethrum.

Prob­lems ring me at 0800 466464 (Palmer­ston North 3570606). Email wal­lyjr@gar­de­ Web­site www.gar­de­

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