PLANT­ING TIME

Whanganui Chronicle - - 48 Hours/gardening - Gareth Carter Gareth Car­teris gen­eral man­ager of Spring­vale Gar­den Cen­tre

Sum­mer this year has felt like it has come and gone a cou­ple of times but good sun­light hours through spring and the hot­ter weather in the past few weeks is a real boon for sum­mer veg­eta­bles that love the heat.

Those such as cu­cum­bers and toma­toes are re­ally pow­er­ing ahead with good growth and fruit de­vel­op­ment ahead of other years.

A good wa­ter­ing each week is crit­i­cal for many plants. Wa­ter­ing is best done in the early morn­ing if you can fol­low this prac­tice. It re­duces the like­li­hood of mildews and other rapidly spreading fun­gous dis­eases. Where pos­si­ble wa­ter­ing the ground un­derneath the plants rather than the fo­liage will also re­duce the risk of fun­gus dis­ease. Weep­ing soaker hoses are very good at achiev­ing this.

It is pru­dent to stake and keep ty­ing up plants se­curely as they grow in case we ex­pe­ri­ence more strong winds. Par­tic­u­larly sus­cep­ti­ble are the soft growth of newly planted trees, roses and peren­ni­als of this sea­son. Also toma­toes that are now grow­ing rapidly need reg­u­lar ty­ing. Use a soft ty­ing ma­te­rial and make sure that the tie ma­te­rial is not too tight as it is easy to ring-bark plants with soft stems. Stakes need to be firmly ham­mered; nor­mally a third of the stake should be in the ground. If us­ing a ball of soft tie ma­te­rial, take it round the branch or stem to be tied in the form of a fig­ure 8 and then reef knot off on the stake. This should keep plants sta­ble.

If you haven’t yet planted many sum­mer veg­eta­bles there is still time. Toma­toes, cap­sicums, cu­cum­bers, corn, pump­kins are best planted be­fore New Year other­wise they may not crop be­fore the cooler au­tumn weather ar­rives. Seed that can be sown di­rect into the soil now in­clude; car­rots, corn, but­ter beans, dwarf beans and radishes. Con­tinue with suc­ces­sive plant­ings of other veg­eta­bles in­clud­ing let­tuce va­ri­eties, cel­ery, spinach and sil­ver­beet, broc­coli, cab­bage and cau­li­flower.

A cou­ple of sum­mer veg­eta­bles to plant now are;

Cu­cum­bers

Cu­cum­bers are a warm sea­son veg­etable that love the hot weather. If you haven’t got any grow­ing then plant one now, they will grow quickly in the cur­rent hot spell. The flavour of these when they are fresh picked from your gar­den sur­passes those that can be bought in the stores. Plant climb­ing types spaced 40cm apart and bush and trail­ing types on the ground about 75cm apart, firm in then wa­ter. Grow them in a shel­tered site in fer­tile rich soil that is well drained, but mois­ture re­ten­tive. The roots must not be al­lowed to dry out. Feed­ing with Tui Tomato Food gives good re­sults. Cu­cum­bers grow very suc­cess­fully in pots, I grow mine in 35 litre tubs and use Tui Veg­etable Mix as the pot­ting medium and sup­ple­ment with liq­uid fer­tiliser Ican Fast Food. In pots they are best staked and tied up reg­u­larly.

They have no frost tol­er­ance and most are dam­aged at air tem­per­a­tures be­low 10C.

Pump­kins

Crown pump­kin is a pop­u­lar and re­li­able va­ri­ety that pro­duces oval grey pump­kins with sweet dry, tex­tured, bright orange flesh. It stores well and is par­tic­u­larly good roasted, for use in stir fry and of course the tra­di­tional pump­kin soup. The ram­bling na­ture of the plant growth can be ex­ces­sive for grow­ing in a smaller gar­den. How­ever, a good method of grow­ing pump­kins for smaller gar­dens is to trim the stems at the fourth leaf. The plant will still crop well but will not take up so much room.

But­ter­nut is a pump­kin like veg­etable which pro­duces 1-2kg of cream coloured pear shaped fruit and bright orange flesh. Har­vest when stems start to shrivel in au­tumn. It can be used in a wide va­ri­ety of hot dishes and may be blanched and frozen for later use.

Veg­eta­bles like pump­kin (main photo) and cu­cum­bers (left) can still be planted now.

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