Late spring so get busy plant­ing

Whanganui Midweek - - COMMUNITY LINK - With Gareth Carter

The weather still seems un­set­tled, typ­i­cal for spring weather. Though by the cal­en­dar spring is nearly over, in con­trast to last year many spring flow­er­ing plants and blos­soms have flow­ered up to weeks ear­lier that other years.

Blos­som trees such as flow­er­ing cher­ries and many fruit trees have fin­ished flow­er­ing and now have fruit set and de­vel­op­ing. Later flow­er­ing fruit trees such as ap­ples are just fin­ish­ing their flow­er­ing now. Other ma­jor gar­den­ing de­lights are the rhodo­den­drons which, while some have fin­ished, other va­ri­eties are only just com­ing into flower. A favourite of mine, Azalea Mol­lis still has va­ri­eties flow­er­ing now too. The rose sec­tion of the gar­den cen­tre is look­ing spec­tac­u­lar, with so many va­ri­eties now in bloom.

Gar­dens need con­stant at­ten­tion, es­pe­cially if you have a new or young gar­den that you are try­ing to es­tab­lish. Keep a watch­ful eye on the weather and if there is a dry spell make sure all the plants are well wa­tered. Seeds and young seedlings also need watch­ing care­fully. Weeds un­for­tu­nately ap­pear al­most daily at this time of the year. If you can con­trol them now it can save a lot of work later; re­mem­ber that old say­ing “one year’s seed­ing cre­ates seven years’ weed­ing”.

Watch out for pests and dis­eases. If you can take ac­tion to con­trol them when they first ap­pear, the like­li­hood of a pop­u­la­tion ex­plo­sion of these harm­ful lit­tle crit­ters is re­duced. Start spray­ing pota­toes and toma­toes to con­trol the dev­as­tat­ing potato/tomato psylid. If you wait to see dam­age it will be too late, as the psylid in­jects a bac­te­rial pathogen into the plant which once in­fected can’t be treated. The psylid is eas­ily con­trolled which pre­vents the op­por­tu­nity for in­fec­tion. For more in­for­ma­tion visit www.spring­vale­gar­den­cen­tre.co.nz

Two prod­ucts have been cer­ti­fied for con­trol of the tomato/potato psylid — Yates Mavrik and Yates Suc­cess Ul­tra. Both are ef­fec­tive and can be used on many other veg­eta­bles, fruit and or­na­men­tals for the con­trol of a wide range of in­sect pests in­clud­ing, cater­pil­lars, aphids and white­fly. Yates Suc­cess Ul­tra also is the best con­trol avail­able for codlin moth.

I have no­ticed my re­cently planted out bras­si­cas are be­ing eaten. At first I thought it was slugs and snails busy look­ing for things to de­vour, eas­ily treated by spread­ing out slug bait reg­u­larly. It turns out that they have been at­tacked by birds. A re­cent prod­uct in the gar­den cen­tre is a new bird scare tape. This tape pro­duces a high fre­quency hum that birds can de­tect but hu­mans can’t. An­other prac­tised method is to hang DVDs or other sparkly items which re­flect light scare the birds. I also use wire net­ting cloches that we have in the store over my newly planted seedlings to pro­tect them from dam­age.

Bugs

Keep an eye on your roses for both pests and dis­eases. Look out for aphids, cater­pil­lars, scale, red spi­der mites and thrips. Com­mon dis­eases in­clude blackspot, mildew and rose rust. The use of Yates Su­per­shield helps to con­trol these prob­lems. If you no­tice rose buds go­ing brown and rot­ting it is quite likely to be botry­tis (brown rot) — a weather re­lated fun­gus. Pre­vent by spray­ing with Grosafe Freeflow Cop­per or any spray that con­trols botry­tis and downy mildew. An ef­fec­tive sys­temic spray is Yates Rose Gun Ad­vanced. Call in and ask at the gar­den cen­tre if you want more ad­vice.

Corn

Corn is a pro­duc­tive crop that grows eas­ily in Whanganui. Seeds should be sown now directly into the soil, these will be ready for har­vest be­tween mid Fe­bru­ary and March. Corn are heavy feed­ing plants: Be­fore plant­ing I rec­om­mend mix­ing Ican Or­ganic Veg­etable Food into the soil and then side dress reg­u­larly as the plants are grow­ing. Corn is best planted in blocks rather than rows as this sig­nif­i­cantly im­proves the rate of pol­li­na­tion.

A highly rec­om­mended corn va­ri­ety to grow is Ten­der Sweet. Its re­views live up well to its de­scrip­tion: “Ex­tra ten­der, and full flavour. Very ten­der husks that do not get stuck in your teeth. Strong ger­mi­na­tion and vigour, high dis­ease tol­er­ance and early ma­tur­ing. The best corn va­ri­ety avail­able”.

Ten­der Sweet is part of a range of seeds called Chefs Best, dis­trib­uted by Ican. This brand has been de­vel­oped by a group of in­de­pen­dent gar­den cen­tres with the aim to put qual­ity and value first, ad­dress­ing the is­sue that we are in an age where price is of­ten pushed lower at the com­pro­mise of qual­ity.

Gar­den ex­perts have car­ried out ex­ten­sive tri­als and sought ad­vice from veg­etable seed spe­cial­ists in New Zea­land and in­ter­na­tion­ally, to find the best va­ri­eties for the home gar­dener. Gar­den cen­tres have cho­sen 15 of the best veg­etable va­ri­eties, selected for su­pe­rior taste, im­proved pest and dis­ease re­sis­tance, in­creased vigour and yield. They are con­sis­tent and re­li­able.

Other seeds from this range that can be sown now in­clude beans, toma­toes, spinach, let­tuce, radish and car­rot.

■ Gareth Carter is Gen­eral Man­ager of Spring­vale Gar­den Cen­tre.

PIC­TURES / SUP­PLIED

Corn grows eas­ily in Whanganui. The va­ri­ety Ten­der Sweet is rec­om­mended.

PIC­TURE / GETTY IM­AGES

Keep an eye out for aphids on your roses.

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