December 2013

December is
a good time to...


Water your plants - but do it in the morning so the sun will dry the moisture off your leaves overnight. Keep planting gourmet veges. Protect your plants from drying out with mulch, stones and newspaper. Prune topiaries. And plant petunias and impatiens.

Read on for more details...



Burning question

I'm going on holiday in January but I have a lot of pot plants and I'm worried they won't survive my trip. Any tips?

Put a towel in the bath and fill the bath with water to just above the towel, then put your pots on top of the towel - hopefully you have a big enough bath!

Click here to email Tod your burning question today.



Win Awapuni seedlings

To celebrate the festive season we're giving away six seedling bundles (a mix of herb, vege and flower) to six lucky winners.
To be into win simply visit www.awapuni.co.nz and tell us what flavoursome herb is featured on the homepage.
Email your entry to media@awapuni.co.nz with the answer in the subject line and your name, physical address (for delivery) and phone number in the body. Entries must be received by 4pm Friday 13 December.



Cool cubes

Showcase your gardening skills and take your drinks to the next level with this cool party trick. Check out the Castanea blog for a guide to making ice cubes using herbs and flowers from your garden.



Time to cook cucumbers

If your cucumbers are starting to look like they'll need to be harvested soon, you might be interested in this cucumber pickle recipe by Annabel Langbein. Visit her site for more information.




Happy festive season!

Who can believe another year has rolled by already? Not me! 2013 has yet again been a busy year at the nursery. We've extended our premises, introduced bulk bundles and new seedlings like perpetual spinach and rosemary, increased the size of selected herb bundles and more. We've also recently discovered the presence of tiger slugs at our Newbury nursery! (See the pic to the right).

Accidentally introduced to New Zealand from Europe, these slimy creatures can apparently grow to around 20cm. We've seen 15cm specimens around the glasshouses but so far they haven't been troubling our plants.

Please note our nursery office will be shut for Christmas from 20 December until 6 January. And if you want seedlings before Christmas you'll need to make your online orders by Monday 16 December.

Thank you for your support during the past year and happy gardening for 2014.

Henri Ham and at the team at Awapuni Nurseries
 

Enamoured of eggplant

What's not to love about having eggplant in your garden? The fruit of this tropical perennial is a perfect addition to vege stews, an essential ingredient in Mediterranean moussaka and French ratatouille, and great simply sliced, sprinkled with salt and barbecued.

Look in your vege garden for a well-drained and sunny position to grow your eggplant, otherwise known as aubergine.
 
If you planted capsicum and cucumbers recently like I recommended, try popping your eggplant seedlings next to them. They're good companion plants, as they all like the same conditions.

They also like to hang their fruit, so grow well planted in a pot or raised garden bed.

Grab some Awapuni Nurseries eggplant seedlings next time you're down at your local supermarket, Bunnings, or The Warehouse. Alternatively, head to our online store and have them delivered direct to your door.


Simply plant each seedling around 20cm apart. If you don't have a suitable raised bed or tub, add some straw or newspaper around the base of the plants to stop the fruit from sitting on damp soil and rotting.

To help your seedlings establish well, I recommend making some mini glasshouses out of old milk bottles for them. Cut the bottom off a recycled and clean milk bottle. Put the top over the plant but remove the lid to allow for a bit of wind circulation. Once they get growing you can remove the milk bottles.

The key with eggplants is not over watering. They like it quite dry and sunny and will rot if they get too much water. If you do water them, make sure you avoid overhead watering.

In around February, your fruit should be ready to harvest. For a tasty addition to your late summer BBQs, simply slice the fruit into about six to eight pieces (around 1cm thick each), brush with olive oil on both sides and barbeque. Once cooked, add some rock salt for taste and serve as a side.

Lastly, although eggplant is technically a perennial (a plant that dies down and pops up again for many growing seasons), in New Zealand it tends to behave like an annual because of our temperate climate, which means once you've harvested all your fruit simply remove the plants and replant next year.


Keep it simple with sweetcorn

Sometimes it can be easy to over complicate things in the kitchen. With sweet corn I'm a big believer in keeping it simple. BBQ or cook the cob in water, add a bit of butter and enjoy. Of course there are many ways you can incorporate corn from the cob in a meal but that's the beauty of it - you can make it as complicated as you want.

Luckily, growing sweet corn is also pretty simple. All you need is a bit of space to grow them - preferably in a sunny and free-draining spot.

Grab some Awapuni Nurseries sweet corn seedlings next time you're down at your local supermarket, Bunnings, or The Warehouse. Alternatively, head to our online store at and have them delivered direct to your door. For a family of around four people you'll need around 20 plants or two bundles.

Once you've found the perfect spot dig a little hole and plant your seedlings around 20cm apart from each other. I like to plant mine in rows or in a group so each plant can support another, as they grow taller.

As the corncob starts to form it's important to water to ensure the plants don't dry out. You should be able to get around two cobs off a plant starting in late summer. Not sure if they're ready? Peel back the husk of the cob a little bit and if they look juicy they're ready. But if the corn looks a little hard it's needs some more time.

Once you've harvested all the corn, pull the plants out. Sweet corn can take a lot of nitrogen out of the soil so try planting peas and beans in the spot where your corn was to bump up the nitrogen content again.

 

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

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