April 2013

April is a good
time to...

Prune your shrubs. Remove summer annuals, dig over soil and plant winter annuals. Whip out your summer veggies and plant winter vegies like cauliflower and broccoli.

Read on for more details...

Burning question

The leaves on my rhododendron and viburnums are silver on the top and brown on the bottom. What’s going on?

Sounds like your plants have thrips – a very common garden problem at the moment. Spray the plants with a mix of conqueror oil and shield.

Click here to email Tod your burning question today.


Awapuni Nurseries has joined Pinterest. We’re still finding our feet on this ‘pin board’ site, but so far we’re using it as a way to spot and keep track of interesting gardening ideas and projects. If you’re interested in following our boards – visit here. Or if you’ve got a board you think we should be following – please email us.

Silver beet and feta pie

Once your silver beet has reached maturity (see Super Silverbeet for tips on how to grow) try making this tasty silver beet and feta pie

And the winners are...

Thank you to everyone who completed our seedling survey last month. You’ve provided us with a lot of food for thought! The winners of the seedling prize packs are: Vicki from Wellington, Talei from Wainuiomata, Michelle from Matamata, Jayne from Ashhurst, Jacky from Rangiora and Cat from Stokes Valley. Congratulations!

Getting crafty at home

Here are a couple of fun projects to keep the kids entertained and educated these school holidays. Create fun faux flowers with food colouring and paper doilies, and then use the food colouring to show the transfer of water up the stem of real flowers with the dyed flowers science experiment.

Winter preparation

Thank you to everyone who completed our survey on seedlings last month. We were really pleased with the number of responses – now we just have to go through all your feedback! The names of the winners of the seedling prize packs are included further on in the newsletter. I hope you all had a safe and happy Easter break, managed to get some time in your gardens and received some much needed rain.

At the nursery we’re busy preparing our winter growing area. We’ve removed all our weed matting and have decided to grow our seedlings on recycled pallets (thanks Toyota NZ!) for better air circulation and clearance from the ground. We’ve also been busy ripping the soil to improve drainage. Next we’ll place the seedling trays on the pallets and put plastic cloches over them to protect the plants from rain, hail and frost.

Happy gardening
Henri Ham
Awapuni Nurseries

Super silver beet

I don’t know about you but, to my mind, silver beet doesn’t come across as the sexiest of fruit or veges (not up there with seductive strawberries or racy red peppers, say). But it definitely punches above its weight in other areas.

The leaves of silver beet (or swiss chard as it’s called overseas) are nutrient rich; packed with fibre, vitamins C, E and A, and folate, which is particularly great for expecting mums. Plus it contains the antioxidant lutein, which is important for eye health.

But it’s not just for those on a health kick; silver beet is also good to eat. It’s best mates with feta (try it in a scrumptious silver beet and feta filo pie). And briefly steamed, it makes an easy vege side dish, and is handy to wilt into soups at the last minute to boost your five-plus-a-day count.

Best of all, silver beet is so easy to grow. If one of your New Year’s resolutions was to start a vege garden (hey, it’s April but it’s never too late to get going!), why not kick things off with this leafy staple?

Simply pick up some Awapuni Nurseries silver beet seedlings from your local supermarket, The Warehouse, Bunnings or from our online store. There, you’ll find the regular version of the plant we all know and (mostly) love, but if you’d like to add a bit of brightness to your garden, grab some coloured silver beet that has stalks in shades like pink and orange. This version isn’t quite as frost-hardy as the regular sort and likes full sun, so is perfect in pots; just make sure you use a good potting mix. And if you’d like even more colour in your pot, try planting pansies around the edges.

If you’re sticking with the ground (it’s best in well drained soil), silver beet is great for filling empty or tight spots in your garden. And it does well in between rows of brassica veges (your cabbage, cauli, broccoli and brussels) because it’s ready to harvest earlier and grows tall rather than out.

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It’s vege time!

It seems crazy to even be thinking about it, let alone publically announce my thoughts on the subject, but April is the time to plant…wait for it...winter veges.

Can you believe we’ve been officially in autumn for over a month now? It’s been the summer, or should I say drought, that never seemed to end.

But daylight savings has finished for another year, and the weather will (or should!) start to get cooler soon so it’s important to get your new season veges in the ground while the soil temperature is still warm enough to kick start their growth.

And two veges I just can’t seem to get enough of, whatever the season, are broad beans and broccoli. Bring to the boil to blanche and add to a salad, throw them into a quiche or serve as a side with a good old roast – they’re tasty and versatile veges any garden should have.

Pick up your Awapuni sprouting broccoli and broad bean seedlings from Bunnings, The Warehouse or your local supermarket when you’re next out. Alternatively, order your seedlings from our online store and have them delivered direct to your door.

Once you’ve got your seedlings, you need to find a spot to plant. It’s important you plant your brassicas (broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower etc) in a different spot to where you grew them last year to prevent them getting club root.

Broad beans don’t need anything to grow up against, but because they like to support each other I recommend planting a patch of bean seedlings next to your broccoli but not interspersed with them like you might with another vege such as silverbeet.

Next add some compost and lime to the soil and mix well. This will ensure your soil is in top condition for the cooler months ahead and will also help prevent club root.

And, if you want to give your broccoli and beans a really good head start, add a general fertiliser, such as nitrophoska blue, to the soil prior to planting. This will encourage growth and ensure abundant broccoli come harvest.

Right, let’s start by planting your broccoli first. Simply dig a hole (approximately 3cms deep), place your seedling inside and cover the roots with soil. Space each seedling 35 to 50cms apart. This will ensure room for the broccoli seedling to expand and grow. As broccoli can take a long time to mature, during the earlier weeks you can plant other seedlings (such as the silverbeet I mentioned earlier) that mature quickly in the spaces between each broccoli seedling. This is known as companion planting.

Also, don’t forget to add slug and snail bait to the soil surrounding your seedlings.

You can buy this at any garden centre store and it’s a great way to keep creepy crawlies from eating your broccoli before you do. For a more organic option, why not try sprinkling eggshells around the garden or beer bait.

Now, for the broad beans – simply plant each seedling around 15cm apart from each other in rows approximately 30cm apart.

Depending on the weather where you live and, as a result, the soil temperature, your bean seedlings will take around eight to 12 weeks to produce beans ready for harvesting. Once the plants are around one metre high put a stake at either end of the rows and loop a big piece of string around the whole lot to keep them growing together. While broad beans take at least a couple of months to produce any actual beans, the plants grow really quickly.

Your broccoli should be ready for harvest in two to three months. Broccoli needs to be harvested before it flowers, as once the broccoli flowers, the plant will die.

Read more

Henri and Paul Ham, Awapuni Nurseries Ltd
Pioneer Highway PO Box 7075 Palmerston North 4443 NEW ZEALAND


P: 64 6 354-8828 F: 64 6 354-8857 W: www.awapuni.co.nz E: sales@awapuni.co.nz