The joy of try­ing some­thing new

The Tribune (NZ) - - AL FRESCO - WALLY RICHARDS

Some gar­den­ers grow the same thing sea­son in and sea­son out. I too have my favourites, but it is al­ways in­ter­est­ing to give some­thing else a shot. How about mak­ing time for thyme?

Thyme is a great to grow in con­tain­ers or in hang­ing bas­kets. The thing about thyme is that it flow­ers for a good part of the year with the best dis­plays through spring and au­tumn.

The plant has a nat­u­ral cas­cad­ing habit, so it flows all over the place pro­vid­ing an ex­cel­lent dis­play while be­ing handy when you re­quire fresh thyme for the kitchen.

Bees love thyme and thyme honey is some­thing to die for.

Petu­nias are an­other favourite, and some of the newer types have re­ally spec­tac­u­lar flow­ers. Mine grow in 15-20cm con­tain­ers us­ing pur­chased compost with a lit­tle ex­tra food such as Bio Boost or Sheep Ma­nure Pel­lets, added.

When the plants get a bit scrag­gly sim­ply trim them back a bit to tidy up and they will pro­duce new growth and a lot more flow­ers.

When win­ter starts to set in, cut them back be­fore spray­ing the re­main­ing fo­liage with Va­por­gard, and move the pots to a shel­tered spot where they won’t get rained on or frosted.

Ev­ery so of­ten in win­ter, you will need to give them a lit­tle drink but you can keep them go­ing for years if you wish.

Too much wa­ter in win­ter and you are likely to lose them. Losses can also oc­cur if they are ex­posed to frost.

Chilli pep­pers or cap­sicum are an­other fam­ily of plants that can keep go­ing for sev­eral years in pots. Al­ways use compost (pot­ting mix is use­less) and keep them pro­tected and dry dur­ing win­ter.

Fei­joa ‘Unique’ is an ex­cel­lent va­ri­ety of fei­joa to grow ei­ther in open ground or as a smaller spec­i­men in a large con­tainer. This va­ri­ety pro­duces large fruit, does not need a pol­li­na­tor and is likely to pro­duce a small crop within one to two sea­sons of plant­ing.

Sur­plus fruit can be made into rel­ish or chut­ney – a so­lu­tion for any sur­plus of toma­toes at this time of the year – or jam.

So, can home gar­den­ers grow the same crop in the same lo­ca­tion year af­ter year with­out de­plet­ing the soil or cre­at­ing sus­cep­ti­bil­ity to soil borne dis­eases?

If you are truly ‘gar­den­ing’ the soil – that is re­plen­ish­ing the good­ness us­ing nat­u­ral ma­te­ri­als, it is pos­si­ble to suc­cess­fully grow the same crops in the same plot in­def­i­nitely.

I have known gar­den­ers who have suc­cess­fully grown their tomato plants in the same sunny and shel­tered gar­den space for 25 years or more.

Per­haps not, though, if you are ap­ply­ing man-made fer­tilis­ers, chlo­ri­nated wa­ter or chem­i­cal sprays and her­bi­cides. Un­der th­ese cir­cum­stances, dis­eases will build up in the soil while nat­u­ral fer­til­ity will de­crease.

Those with con­cerns about pos­si­ble gar­den soil dis­eases might like to try a nat­u­ral pathogen sup­pres­sant, Wallys Ter­racin soil drench fol­lowed up by a My­cor­rcin drench.

A spray over moist soil with My­cor­rcin ev­ery month for a sea­son will build up the pop­u­la­tions of ben­e­fi­cial mi­crobes and fungi, mak­ing for health­ier plants.

Prob­lems? ring me at 0800 466464 (Palmer­ston North 3570606)Email wal­lyjr@gar­de­news.co.nzWeb site www.gar­de­news.co.nz

PHOTO: FAIRFAX NZ

Thyme is great for cas­cad­ing out of con­tain­ers, or as ground cover and to soften paving ar­eas. Not only can you eat it, it also is a bee at­trac­tant.

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