May 2014

May is
a good time to...

Prepare for planting your winter veges and flowers. Apply compost, fertiliser and a dressing of lime to your garden beds to sweeten the soil, encourage plant growth and prevent club root. Plant broccoli, broad beans, carrots, onions, peas, spinach, kale and cauliflower. Rake leaves for composting. Collect tomato seeds for next year. And don't forget to make cider out of the last of your inedible apples and pears.

Read on for more details...

Burning question

Is now a good time to make compost and why should I bother?

During autumn and winter most gardens require a little less work so it's the perfect time do some preparation, like making compost, to ensure your garden takes off again during spring. I like to think of composting your garden as putting high-performance petrol in your car. It gives the soil a good rev- up and generates extra nutrients in time for spring growth. It also allows you to reduce kitchen waste - like food scraps - and make use of all the autumn falling leaves. Visit here for my tips on how to make great compost for adding structure to your soil.

Click here to email Tod your burning question today.

Make mum happy

What mum doesn't love receiving flowers? If you're running low on flowers in your own garden to give her, this mothers day why not give her the gift that grows - a potted plant. Herbs, flowers and some veges all grow well in pots. Get the kids or grandkids to decorate them with house paint from test pots. Or simply give her a bundle or two of seedlings so she can plant them in her garden wherever she wants.

Pumpkin soup

Nothing says autumn like pumpkin soup. Whether your pumpkins are home-grown or store bought you can't go past this incredibly simple and tasty garlic and rosemary recipe. Serve and eat straight away or freeze for later.

Put your mark on it

It seems the ways to label and mark your plants are never-ending. We've posted a couple of suggestions in Cultivated News before and now we've found a handy list of 20 ways to label your plants - including repurposing broken terracotta pots. We really like the pots painted in blackboard paint.


Congratulations to the following Cultivated News subscribers, Linda from Hamilton, Florence from Whangarei, Geoff from Whangamata, Herman from Auckland, Val from Tokoroa and Anthea from Palmerston North, who have won Awapuni Nurseries seedlings simply for being subscribed during April 2014.

Remember, we're giving away seedling bundles to Cultivated News subscribers every month during 2014, so stay subscribed for your chance to win.

It's germination time

After a very dry March we finally got some rain in April (though not nearly as much as some of you in the more southern and northern parts of the country!) and have now settled down into the autumn and winter business of germinating seedlings in ex shipping containers. Here's a pic of where the magic happens. We use a small heater to maintain the container at a constant temperature of 21 degrees Celsius, which helps get even germination and full trays of seedlings.

If you haven't already, remember you've still got time to get your winter veges, like broccoli and spinach, in - or why not try kale like Tod suggests further on in the newsletter.

We hope the recent storms didn't damage your gardens too much and we're thinking of those affected by the Christchurch flooding. Happy gardening.

Henri Ham

What to do about white fly and white butterfly

Last month we asked you to email us your tips for keeping whitefly and/or white butterfly at bay. Thanks to all those who emailed to let us know what works for you, what you've heard works and what definitely doesn't work. Using a glasshouse or netting seems to help limit both whitefly and white butterflies. Chilli and garlic spray also works. Apparently curry plants and flowers of sulphur might help repel whitefly. But basil definitely doesn't.
Planting French marigold (tagetes patula) and spraying plants with seaweed spray have proven successful at diverting white butterflies. And rumour has it planting rhubarb or using a rhubarb and garlic spray could repel white butterflies. Lastly, this method hasn't proven entirely successful but must be fun to watch - an army of school children armed with nets trying to catch white butterflies. If you've got more comments on whitefly and white butterfly be sure to email Tod.

Fabulous foxgloves

Foxgloves are not what you'd call shrinking violets. They come in vibrant colours like purple and cream and when they flower each stem produces many striking and attractive glove-like flowers - all of which tends to make them a plant that stands out from the pack rather than shrink into the background.

But the background is exactly where they come into their own. Reaching heights of over one metre tall make foxgloves the perfect plants to remove from the limelight and retire to the backdrop of your flowerbeds. Compliment their spring-flowering colours by companion planting with other tall-growing flowers such as delphinium, stocks and hollyhocks.

You can grab your Awapuni Nurseries foxglove seedlings, and other tall flowers, from your local supermarket or Bunnings. Otherwise, visit our online store and get them delivered direct to your door - a service our rural customers are particularly fond of.

Once you've got your seedlings look for a flowerbed or spot in your garden that is sunny or semi-shade and not prone to frost. They like a nutrient rich soil, so dig in a bit of compost before you get planting. Got a rose garden? Foxgloves love the same conditions and compliment roses nicely.

As you would expect from plants with a bit of height it's important not to grow each seedling too close together - around 20cm apart is ideal. However, because of their height they do need to be grouped relatively near to each other, not only so they look better, but also so they can support each other's weight.

Lastly, as with most gardening it's a particularly good idea to wear gloves when planting or dealing with foxgloves. As you're probably aware, they are toxic if ingested (be especially careful around them with small children who have a tendency to put things in their mouths).

Did you know?

If you soak foxglove leaves, stems and flowers in a liquid and then add the liquid to a vase with cut flowers it will make the other flowers last longer? For the same result, simply put foxglove flowers in the same vase as other cut flowers. Greg Holdsworth

Branch out with your brassicas

As the weather continues to cool, I bet many of you are starting to wonder what winter veges you should be planting. This year when you're selecting your tried and true broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts seedlings why not branch out and try one of the more interesting members of the brassica family - kale. Greg Holdsworth

Of course many of you will already be experts at adding kale to your stir-frys and salads but I bet equally as many of you didn't even realise you could eat this vegetable often grown for animal feed.

So, next time you're down at your local supermarket or Bunnings store try something new and grab some Awapuni Nurseries kale seedlings to add to your winter garden vege mix. Alternatively, visit our online store and have them delivered direct to your door. If you're an old hand at nurturing the regular type of kale, be sure to check out our cavalo nero variety, which looks like a cross between cabbage and kale and is perfect for making tasty chips out of.

Before you get planting make sure you're growing your seedlings somewhere different to where you last grew any other members of the brassica family to prevent your plants getting club root. At Awapuni we use high quality seeds to grow our seedlings, which means our plants are more disease resistant than your average seeds or seedlings, but it always pays to be careful to ensure your hard work doesn't go to waste.
Next, before you plant them dress the soil with some lime to sweeten it.

Then, once you've got your bed ready, plant each seedling around 15cm apart. Growing them quite close together in clumps, as opposed to rows, can create a quite nice visual affect. Which reminds me, don't feel restricted to planting your kale, or any other vegetables for that matter, just in your vege garden. Try growing them, alongside rainbow beet, calendulas and any edible plants you find attractive, the length of paths or in patterns as you would with flowers. As always, there are plenty of great ideas on the internet if you try searching the words 'edible landscape'.

In around six to 10 weeks your kale should be ready to harvest. Simply pick the individual leaves as you need them.

Lastly, to help prevent club root for next year, once you've harvested your brassicas, plant mustard seeds in the soil (while you rotate your crops). When the mustard has matured to around 10cm (when the leaves are soft), dig it into the soil. This will help get rid of any club root in the soil.

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: E: