Rampant basil flavour of the month
IT’S BASIL TIME
Heat-loving basil needs temperatures of around 20°C to germinate. Sow seed in trays and transplant when the seedlings are at least 5cm high. Or pick up seedlings at the garden centre. I love pesto so I’ve planted largeleaved ‘Sweet Genovese’ from Awapuni Nurseries. I start harvesting by pinching out the top leaves of each stem as soon as the plants are established. This encourages bushy plants, extra leaves and delays flowering. Don’t pick below the bottom set of leaves on a stem as it won’t resprout. Awapuni Nurseries’ bundle of mixed basil varieties I’m growing in a more decorative way. Small leafed ‘Greek Mini’ is very cute in containers. Purpleleafed ‘Red Rubin’, purpleflowered ‘Thai’ and ‘Cinnamon’ basil and white-flowered ‘Lemon’ basil are planted alongside dahlias in the flower border. I let these plants ramp away and don’t deadhead them. They flower prolifically and are magnets for bees. Brushing against the leaves releases a wonderful scent too.
– Barbara Smith
CITRUS FIRST AID
The yellowing leaves on my ‘Meyer’ lemon and lemonade tree are a cry for help. ‘Feed me, feed me’ the trees are saying in their nutrientdeficient state. Yellow leaves usually indicate that the plants are deficient in magnesium, zinc or iron. I’m going to green them up by dosing them with Yates Citrus Cure Zinc & Manganese Chelate. Citrus are heavy feeders so feed them little and often with a specialist citrus fertiliser every week from September until March. Mulch them right out to the tree’s drip line as well, but don’t mulch around the trunk of the tree to avoid collar rot.
If you’re growing citrus in containers, feed them now and in summer with a slow-release fertiliser, then give them an extra boost of TLC by applying a liquid fertiliser once a month. Refresh the potting mix in potted citrus every two years.
If you’ve just planted a new citrus tree and it’s flowering, remember that it’s a good idea – although requires an admirable amount of willpower – to take off the developing fruit in the tree’s first season so that it can develop a strong root structure. If you can’t bring yourself to do that, knowing that means no citrus next winter, compromise by removing at least half of the fruit.
– Rachel Clare
TOMATO TO-DO LIST
If your tomatoes are flowering they need less nitrogen (for leaf growth) and more potassium for fruit set. Feed once a week with a liquid feed such as Daltons Controlled Release Tomato Fert or Yates Thrive Tomato Liquid Plant Food. Water well after feeding. Reduce to a fortnightly feed once fruit has formed.
If you haven’t staked your plants yet, do it now before they get too big and you damage the roots. Mine look a bit OTT right now under their tall stakes but I have expectations that they’ll achieve great heights of 1.5m at least!
– Rachel Clare
PRACTISE POPULATION CONTROL
The first blowfy buzzed by and reminded me to refresh the fly traps. A female blowfly can lay around 2,000 eggs in a lifetime. Dealing to a few flies in early summer will cut down the numbers later. Use a commercial trap and bait or make your own. Cut across a plastic bottle about one third of the way down from the top. Put bait in the bottom section. I use a mixture of yeast, a little sugar and some warm water which builds up a stink after a couple of days. Or use a small piece of meat, rotting fruit or cat food. Invert the top. Add a wire handle and hang where flies tend to congregate – usually in sunny, sheltered spots – but where the smell won’t bother you or the neighbours.
The flies can get in the hole at
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 the top but can’t fly back out. They eventually die and fall into the liquid. The water level needs topping up now and then. Empty traps when they start to fill up. Warmer weather means other pests are gearing up for a breeding frenzy. Look out for fluffy bums (juvenile passionvine hoppers), mosquito wrigglers, aphids, mealy bugs, green vege bugs and scale. Squash the early arrivals to slow the population explosion. You won’t get them all – there’ll be some left to feed the predatory beneficial insects that will help maintain a balance.
– Barbara Smith