NZ Gardener gives you 5 great things to tackle in your garden around aitangi Day. And haven’t the small spots of rain we’ve been getting in the last few days been very welcome for our gardens? For more great gardening advice, visit www.tuitime.co.nz
1. Don’t rush to pull out any herbs that are past their best. Gardens are a magnet for monarch butterflies and honey bees at the moment, mostly because herbs go to seed.
2. Sow broad beans. If you’ve never sown anything from seed, try broad beans. You can’t go wrong. They sprout reliably and the seeds are big so there’s no need to fuss about trying to space them out. Soak the large seeds overnight before sowing to speed up germination. In warmer parts of the country, broad beans sown now will be cropping before winter. In cooler areas, aim to get the seeds in sometime before the end of April for spring harvests. You can grow broad beans in pots too.
3. Keep sowing winter veges. Leeks, parsnips, cauliflowers, cabbages, broccoli, kale, carrots, beetroot and peas can all be sown now. If possible, cover your cabbages, caulis and broccoli with fine bird netting to keep the white cabbage butterflies off. Because it’s so hot, it’s essential to keep seeds moist until they germinate. Rig up a little tent from shadecloth to drape over your rows if needed; or if you’re raising seeds in trays, keep them in a bright spot but out of direct sunlight until they’re up and away, then shift them into the sun.
4. Water, water, water. If you think the heat’s bothering you, spare a thought for the plants in your garden. They can’t as easily take themselves off to the beach for a dip, or grab a cold one from the fridge! Set the sprinkler or drag the hose around with you early in the morning or at dusk and make sure your thirsty plants get a good soaking. In humid climates, morning watering is best; if your plants stay moist all night, they’re likely to develop fungal diseases.
5. Sow spring onions. Despite their name, springs onion (or scallions, as they’re sometimes called in recipes) can be grown almost year-round in most climates. Sow a couple of rows every month to ensure a plentiful supply of these delicious and easy-to-grow onions. For something a little different, try Red Bunching Onions; sow direct into your garden or pot. They look gorgeous and taste great. Spring onions are incredibly versatile… eat them raw in salads or stir-fry them with courgettes and garlic. Or try a New Potato, Spring Onion, Pea and Mint Salad. Or if you have a bit of an excess of spring onions, try making our Spring Onion Tart. Perfect for a Waitangi weekend brunch,