Baby beets prove a great salad op­tion

Wairarapa News - - WHAT’S ON - RACHEL OLD­HAM

SOW AND PLANT BEETROOT

Sweet baby beets are per­fect in sal­ads and the best news is that they can be sown year-round. Sow beetroot seeds di­rect, into well cul­ti­vated soil in a po­si­tion that gets full sun. Space the corky clus­ters 15cm apart and wa­ter gently and of­ten un­til ger­mi­na­tion oc­curs (usu­ally 10-14 days). Beetroot also grows well in con­tainer – just make sure you place the pots where they will get some shade dur­ing the hottest part of the day or they could over­heat, caus­ing woody roots.

Beetroot tastes best when grown quickly so feed plants with liq­uid fer­tiliser dur­ing the next few weeks.

You can also trans­plant seedlings from pun­nets (pic­tured), rather than sow­ing di­rect. This will save about a month of grow­ing time if you’re in a hurry! Re­move the seedling plug from the pun­net with care so you don’t knock the roots too much.

Har­vest as baby beets from 6-7 weeks or let them grow to their full size for slic­ing or pre­serv­ing. Young beetroot leaves are also ed­i­ble.

GROW PLANTS & FLOW­ERS TO BRING IN BEES

Septem­ber is bee aware­ness month and since many of our ed­i­ble crops are pol­li­nated by bees, it’s a great idea to pro­vide nour­ish­ment for them in your gar­den.

Bees, hov­er­flies and preda­tory wasps have small feed­ing parts, so plants with small flow­ers suit them. You don’t need to ded­i­cate a huge area ei­ther. A few pots or a thin strip around the edge of your vege patch can be all you need. Sow a patch of wild­flow­ers or grow a mix of flow­ers and herbs in­clud­ing anise hys­sop, sage, laven­der, berg­amot, bor­age, thyme, corn­flow­ers, monarda, cal­en­dula, pur­ple tansy, marigolds and phacelia, to name but a few.

When mak­ing your gar­den a lit­tle more bee-friendly, here are some things to con­sider. Bees love pur­ple, white, yel­low and blue flow­ers best. Flow­ers planted in groups not only aid bees, they bring in but­ter­flies as well. Plant a range of dif­fer­ent-sized and shaped flow­ers and try to in­clude flow­ers for ev­ery sea­son. Avoid us­ing pes­ti­cides or spray­ing when flow­ers are in bloom. Pro­vide clean drink­ing wa­ter for bees.

The Septem­ber is­sue of NZ Gar­dener mag­a­zine (on sale now) has a free packet of bee-friendly wild­flower seeds for ev­ery reader. We’re call­ing on Ki­wis to sow th­ese seeds and sign up to Plan Bee by reg­is­ter­ing your gar­den in our in­ter­ac­tive map.

This month you can find out more about our ben­e­fi­cial in­sects, bees and pol­li­na­tors in a series of sto­ries on www.homed.co.nz in­clud­ing Ruud Kleinpaste’s look at why hon­ey­bees may pose a threat to our na­tive bees (click here to read); a fun quiz on pol­li­na­tors and close-up pho­tos of the var­i­ous bees, wasps, hov­er­flies, bum­ble­bees and flies typ­i­cally found in our gar­dens.

FOR SPEEDY SAL­ADS SOW PEA MI­CRO­GREENS

The ar­rival of spring means the rapid re­turn of sal­ads to our diet but the gar­den is of­ten a lit­tle bare this time of year which can mean slim pick­ings when it comes to hav­ing enough leaves to

GET GROW­ING

This col­umn is adapted from the weekly e-zine, get grow­ing, from New Zealand Gar­dener mag­a­zine. For gar­den­ing ad­vice de­liv­ered to your in­box ev­ery Fri­day, sign up for Get Grow­ing at: get­grow­ing.co.nz eat. En­ter the hum­ble mi­cro­green. Th­ese young vegetable (or herb) plants are har­vested at the baby leaf stage and are a fan­tas­tic stop-gap while you wait for your let­tuce crops to ma­ture.

Peas make some of the tasti­est mi­cro­greens I’ve ever eaten and are even eas­ier to grow. Sow the seeds thickly into a pot, cover lightly with seed-rais­ing mix and mist with wa­ter daily. Ex­pect to start pick­ing in about a fort­night. Try ‘Fiji Feath­ers’ from Kings Seeds.

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