April 2015

Wildflower wedding


We spotted this Instagram pic of Mary Smyth's wildflower meadow and just had to share with a wider audience.

Mary of Beau Floral Atelier in Auckland created a 14m by 4m bed of wildflowers (four months of growing) for her wedding on Waiheke Island at the end of February. Mary said she wanted to 'create something very beautiful and do something a bit different for her wedding'. We think she managed that!

Burning question

How do I know when my pumpkins are ready to harvest and how do I store them for the winter?



Wait until the stalks and leaves dry up to harvest the pumpkins. You can eat them straight away but if you plan on storing the pumpkins you will need to ensure they are harvested with the stalk still on. You don’t want to harvest the pumpkins too early but also be careful not to leave them on the ground too long otherwise they will rot underneath.

Before you store the pumpkins make sure they are clean to stop the dirt from rotting them later on. Store them in a dry place, which has air circulating. And remember to check them often and remove any that rot so they don’t cause the others to rot as well.

Click here to email Tod your burning question today.

No strain to hang

Now is a great time to replant your hanging baskets with pansies to create some colour for winter. But if you’re tired of the traditional hanging basket, why not try a colander planter?

You could grow herbs, pansies, an Awapuni hanging basket mix, or more in your no-strain basket.

For instructions on how to create one visit Sadie Seasongoods blog. And for hanging basket planting tips visit here.



Stop slugs in their slime

Thanks to everyone who wrote in and gave us their top tips for stopping slugs and snails in their slime. Several people said they’d had success with laying out crushed eggshells. One person said they encourage birds to forage where the slugs are and then eat them – the birds eat the slugs and snails, that is. Another said they’d had success with placing coffee grounds around the seedlings.

And, we’ve saved the best (read most disgusting) solution for last. Lynda said her friend catches slugs and snails using beer bait and then puts the slugs and beer into a blender with more water and whizzes it up. She then sprays this squeamish mixture onto plants and soil. We have to agree with Lynda when she said she’d rather stick to other methods herself.

So, in the process of writing this story we did a little searching on the web to see why it is methods like eggshells work to keep slugs at bay and found this very interesting website dedicated to slugs. Interestingly, on it they put the eggshell method to the test and found it didn’t work. They also list their tried and true methods (including beer bait – or a yeast non-alcoholic version), which are well worth a look – especially the pics of the eggshell experiment.

Credit Allaboutslugs.com


Happy Easter!

I’m going to be honest, this month I was a little preoccupied with something other than gardening and the nursery. While, I will encourage all of you to get busy in the garden this Easter and get your winter brassicas and annuals in, I will be getting busy down at the track for the Kartsport New Zealand National Sprint Championship.

 
As the current president of KartSport Manawatu (that's right... president!), I have been helping get everything ready for the 180 competitors coming from all over the country. If you happen to share two of my passions, seedlings and karting, and will be in the Manawatu this weekend, do come and say hi. Unfortunately, I won’t be racing this time but will be practising my newfound espresso making skills in the club house. The picture is of young Jack, having his first time in a go-kart during one of our have a go days. Have a safe and happy Easter and... go Manawatu!

Happy gardening and karting

Henri Ham
 

Pretty and practical pansies

I’m going to start by being perfectly honest with you: pansies are not cool. They’re not en vogue, and they’re certainly not on trend. They don’t fit in with Pacifica landscapes, Zen-inspired gardens or clean cut, contemporary back yards.

Yet, pansies remain one of the most popular flowers around.
 
Why? Put simply; they’re pretty and practical.

In fact, pansies are one of the easiest flowers to grow. As long as they’re planted before the cool weather sets in, they’ll survive through rain, wind and even frosts.

As well as being hardy, they’re perfect for adding bursts of colour to winter gardens, and make great garden beds and borders. The petals can also be used for a variety of crafts, like potpourri making and pressed flower decorating (not that I do too much of that myself, I might add!).

So, let me tell you how to get started. First, think about your colour scheme. Awapuni has the full spectrum of colours, from blues to yellows to reds, as well as mixed colour varieties. You can select from our range at your local supermarket, Bunnings, or The Warehouse. Or head to our online store and have your seedlings delivered direct to your door.

To plant, choose a spot in the garden that receives morning sun and has good drainage. Spend some time enriching your soil – it will revitalise your garden after a dry summer. I also recommend you boost soil fertility and encourage bright, healthy blooms by adding organic compost and fertiliser. Once that’s done, dig a wide, shallow hole for each plant and space the holes 10 to 20 centimetres apart. Make sure the holes are wide enough so the plant’s roots don’t become cramped. Cover the plant roots with garden soil and give them a good watering, then add a layer of mulch to retain moisture, suppress weeds and keep frosts at bay.

Read on for more details...


Mixing it up herb-style

I often say less is more when it comes to herbs. But the plants themselves don’t always heed my advice, growing at rates of knots and producing more stems than I can cook dishes to flavour-enhance.

That's why we stock mixed herb variety packs, like our curly parsley, Italian parsley and coriander combo.
 
Depending on rate at which you consume herbs and garnishes, the smaller number of seedlings per herb means you should end up with about the right amount of each, without any taking over your garden.

Keen to mix things up at your place? Simply grab an Awapuni Nurseries curly parsley, Italian parsley and coriander mixed herb pack from your local supermarket, Bunnings, or The Warehouse. Or head to our online store and have your seedlings delivered direct to your door. While you’re there, check out our other mixed herb and vege bundles.

Once our seedlings are in your hands, it's time to get planting. What I like about parsley (both the curly and Italian variety) is that it can be grown in virtually anything. It loves a big herb or vege garden, of course, flourishing in a sunny, well-drained spot. But it does just as well in a small pot on the windowsill, or in a hanging basket with something like polyanthus or strawberries around the outside.

Read on for more details...
 

Complimentary companions

If you’re busy harvesting rhubarb at the moment and about to plant your winter brassicas, you might want to hold on to the rhubarb leaves.

According to some, digging the leaves in to the soil where you plan to plant your members of the brassica family (cauliflower, broccoli, kale, cabbage etc) might help prevent club root. What do you think? Have you ever tried this method?

 
If in doubt, here are a few more tips for avoiding club root.
1. Rotate your crops.
2. Sweeten the soil with some lime.
3. Plant mustard seeds in the soil when rotating your crops.
4. Use high quality seeds or seedlings, like the ones sold at Awapuni Nurseries, which are more disease resistant.

For more information on avoiding club root and growing brassicas visit here or here for Tod's tips on how to plant rhubarb.

Remember, these are companion planting tips and methods we've picked up along the way or heard of from other gardeners. We're not promising they'll work 100% but they’re worth a shot in any garden – particularly if you’re trying to promote natural growth and keep it pesticide free.

For more information on companion planting visit here. And if you've had any experience with rhubarb as a companion plant (good or bad) we’d love to hear about it. Email us here.

 

April is a good time to...

Plant your winter veges (broccoli, beet, leeks, celery etc). Pull out summer annuals and replant with winter annuals like polyanthus and cineraria. Mulch your seedlings. Move potted plants to a warmer spot if they're susceptible to frost.

Prune your shrubs if they've finished flowering. And take off any dead flower heads from your roses. Lastly, make cider, stew or bottle your end of season pears and apples.

Read on for more details...

Winners

Congratulations to the following Cultivated News subscribers Jackie from Blenheim, Boyd and Sherilee from Auckland, Diona from hastings, Diane from Lower Hutt and Lyn from Dunedin who have won Awapuni Nurseries seedlings simply for being subscribed during March.

Remember, we're giving away seedling bundles to Cultivated News subscribers every month until the end of 2015, so stay subscribed for your chance to win and remember to check your inbox in case you’re one of our lucky winners.


 

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

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