KEEPWATCH ON CHRIST­MAS DIN­NER CROPS

The Tribune (NZ) - - GARDENING -

Pam­per your peas, pota­toes and any other crops you may have planted ear­lier with Christ­mas din­ner in mind. If you are to suc­ceed in pro­vid­ing new pota­toes and freshly picked peas for the fes­tive mid­day meal, you’ll need to keep a close eye on them, wa­ter reg­u­larly, feed as of­ten as they will tol­er­ate and keep any pests at bay. Make sure you visit those parts of your gar­den reg­u­larly as prob­lems can crop up quickly when you’re not pay­ing close at­ten­tion. Check the leaves top and bot­tom and squish aphids, slugs and green vege bugs, if they have taken up res­i­dence. If you don’t mind the sub­tle taste and smell of pes­ti­cides on your Christ­mas meal, by all means spray against pests, but I pre­fer my food to be free of that dark per­fume. This spe­cial meal should be fra­grant with scents of mint, fruit mince, stuffing and plum duff, and with a glass of sparkling white! – Robert Guyton

COVER YOUR CUR­RANTS

The black­birds at my place have al­ready made se­ri­ous in­roads into my red­cur­rant crop and won’t stop un­til I’ve draped all the bushes with net­ting. They’ll still try to get in, and will suc­ceed oc­ca­sion­ally, but there’ll be enough for us all, so long as I get the net­ting job done in time. Bird scar­ers don’t work for long, in my ex­pe­ri­ence – be they flashy, noisy or even hu­man-like – so don’t rely on them to keep your cur­rants safe. Un­less you can train a fal­con or hawk to hover over your gar­den all day long, you will have to put up some kind of phys­i­cal bar­rier be­tween the black­birds and thrushes and your berries. – Robert Guyton

CHECK SEEDS GROW­ING IN TUNNELHOUSES

Keep close watch on the seeds you’ve sown in pot­tles and trays in the ex­tra-warm cli­mate in­side your glass or tun­nel­house. It can get toasty in there, as we dis­cov­ered last week with very hot tem­per­a­tures catch­ing out those who didn’t open the vents in their hot houses or hadn’t wa­tered as deeply as they should have. Sud­den, un­ex­pected hot weather can wipe out newly sprouted seedlings, burn­ing them to a crisp and there’s no re­cov­er­ing from that sort of roast­ing. Keep your tun­nel­house doors open when the skies are clear and there’s no sign of a cool­ing breeze. You might find that birds will come in for a meal of salad greens – your young seedlings that is – so a cur­tain of net­ting would be a good in­vest­ment against their at­ten­tions. – Robert Guyton

PINCH OUT THE TIPS OF YOUR BROAD BEANS

Pay a visit to your broad bean patch and pinch out the grow­ing tips to add to your salad bowl. Los­ing the tip won’t cause any prob­lems; the beans will grow on just as strongly

as be­fore and their re­duced height might help them if strong winds blow up and try to lay them flat, as of­ten hap­pens around this time of year. Those fresh, ten­der tips make good eat­ing and look in­ter­est­ing in a salad that might oth­er­wise be just let­tuce. Throw in some miner’s let­tuce and chick­weed as well and re­ally ex­cite your guests. – Robert Guyton

KEEP AN EYE ON THE HEALTH OF YOUR CHOOKS

Think about the health of your hens. They need wa­ter as much as you do and while you can eas­ily turn on a tap and fill a glass with cool H2O, hens are not so lucky; for a start their claws are not suited to tap-turn­ing, but more im­por­tantly, they are not al­ways free to leave their runs to find wa­ter on hot days, so you must bring it to them.

Hens like their wa­ter to be clean, but have the habit of de­spoil­ing it with their ten­dency to fling dirt about with their feet, so help them out by clean­ing their dish reg­u­larly and re­fill­ing it with cool, clear wa­ter. – Robert Guyton

MOVE POT­TED PLANTS INTO SHEL­TER/SHADE

If you’re grow­ing crops in pots, move them out of di­rect sun for the next few weeks. Shift them so that they ei­ther get morn­ing or af­ter­noon sun, but shade for at least half the day. This not only re­duces se­vere is­sues with evap­o­ra­tion, it keeps their roots cool and re­duces the like­li­hood that they will bolt to seed too early. Give pot­ted plants a daily soak and sit large saucers un­der the pots to act as a reser­voir. Move house­plants to cooler rooms in your home as well.

AT­TACK WEEDS

As soon as you head off on hol­i­days, weeds seem to dou­ble their re­solve to breed and set seed in your plot. If you haven’t time for a thor­ough weed­ing ses­sion, then set aside

a mo­ment to snip off any flower heads. Any weeds not in flower can go straight in the com­post or dug into empty beds.

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