May 2015

Fantastic feijoas

Credit Jenny Rollo

It's the time of year when feijoas abound. They're packed full of vitamin c, can be eaten raw, stewed in chutneys, jam and jelly. If you don’t know what to do with all your fruit try scooping out the flesh, chopping it up and putting it in the freezer until you’re ready to use it.

Here's a simple feijoa jam recipe we love – particularly on crackers with blue cheese.

What do you use your feijoas for? If you’ve got a great tip or recipe you’d like to share please email us

Burning question

Is it safe to compost my autumn tree leaves?



Usually yes. But some trees, like black walnuts, have toxins in their fallen leaves called hydrojuglone that can cause other plants to turn yellow, wilt and die. English walnut, hickory and pecan trees also produce small amounts of hydrojuglone.

The best way to collect and compost your other leaves is to first shred them by running over them with a lawn mower. Then tip a layer of leaves into a black plastic rubbish bag, sprinkle over a handful of garden lime and continue the layers until the bag is full. Tie the top of the bag and poke holes all over it. Place it somewhere sunny and leave it to break down. In summer you will have a lovely mulch to apply around your plants.

For more tips on creating your own compost visit here.

Click here to email Tod your burning question today.

Marvellous mums

It’s that time of the year again. Mother’s Day is on Sunday and if you haven’t got your mum a gift or a card yet, why not give her the gift that grows? 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 you could try decorating them in fabric like the one pictured from LuLu’s Blog. Or simply give her a bundle or two of Awapuni seedlings from your local supermarket so she can plant them in her garden or wherever she wants.



Magic mustard

If you're not planning on growing any veges this winter, take the opportunity to put some nutrients back in your garden soil and get it ready for spring planting. The best way to do this is grow a green manure - crops that can be turned back into the soil to provide a natural fertiliser. The most well known plant for this is mustard, but alfalfa, broad beans, lupins and red clover can also be grown for the same effect.

Sow your green manure seeds now and, just as they look like they might start flowering, dig them into the soil. The other benefit to growing a crop like mustard is it will suppress the weeds as it grows in your temporarily vacant vege patch.


Too many tomatoes?


If you're into seed collecting, now's the time to harvest the last of your tomatoes and save the seeds for spring planting. Simply put them on a paper towel and store somewhere safe until later in the year. If you'd rather plant new seedlings next year (which we recommend!), pick your last tomatoes and make them into this tasty pizza sauce for freezing and using as you require.

Simply multiply the recipe quantities depending on how many toms you have left.


Nurturing seedlings

We've been busy this month doing the last of the maintenance on our glasshouse heating system. Using a boiler, we heat water which is pumped around the glasshouse through large pipes. The heat rises from the pipes to heat the air. It's a very passive and gentle way of heating and keeps the most tender of our seedlings growing to ensure they’re ready for planting out in spring.

 
In an effort to keep recycling, reusing and repurposing where we can, we found some fuel to heat the boiler that would have otherwise been used by fire fighters at Ohakea Air Force base to practice putting fires out.

We also got some waste fuel from the Kart track that would otherwise have been flared off. Now the system has been tested and will be ready to go when the first newly germinated tomato, capsicum and basil plants arrive from our germination chambers. We’ll maintain the glasshouse at the coolest temperature we can whilst keeping the plants happy, this is so they grow strong. From there they will be taken back to the Awapuni Nursery for more hardening off prior to sale.

We will keep you posted and show photos of the plants as they grow on our Instagram and Facebook pages.

Happy gardening

Henri Ham
 

Winter colour? We’ve got it in spades

Just because we’re heading into the colder months, doesn’t mean your garden needs to wallow in dull ever-greens and bare branches. In fact, it’s more than possible to add a splash of winter colour with vibrant flowering plants like viola.

What I like about this petite plant is it has a really nice colour range that well and truly fits the season – rich violets, cool yellows, crisp whites with a dash of colour and more.
 

Think your place could do with some brightening up this winter? Pick up some Awapuni Nurseries viola seedlings from your local supermarket, The Warehouse or Bunnings. Or take the easy option and head to our online store.

When thinking about where to plant, look for wide, open spaces. Violas grow really well alongside paving or patios. They also look fantastic in borders around spring bulbs or roses – particularly as the roses go dormant and lose their leaves.

And if you’re a hanging basket fan (like I am), use violas to create a welcoming entrance at your place throughout the cooler months. You can also pop them in a pot – in fact they look great planted around the outside of potted shrubs or citrus trees.

Wherever you decide to plant, simply dig in a balanced fertiliser, like nitrophoska blue. Then plant your seedlings in small holes, about 20cm apart.

If placing them in a pot, make sure you use a good potting mix to provide all the nutrients they need. Nurture their love of space and, in particular, good air circulation, by keeping your pots away from places like under the eaves of your house. This will help prevent them getting downy mildew.

In about four to six weeks, you should be rewarded with that splash of colour. Just remember to pick off the dead heads to encourage them to flower, and you’ll get to enjoy the effect for much, much longer.

Read on for more details...


Silverbeet: then new spinach

Its cousin spinach may be more popular with foodies these days, but did you know silverbeet can be used in pretty much the same way – adding goodness to soups, pies, lasagne, pizza and dips?

In my book, it’s also much easier to grow and prepare than its leafy green relative.
 
Packed full of vitamins, this long-stemmed beauty is a great companion plant too, easily filling empty or tight spots in your vege garden. In fact, I’m often encouraging people to plant silverbeet in between rows of brassicas like broccoli or cauliflower because it’s ready to harvest earlier and it grows tall, rather than out.

Keen to give it a go? Grab some Awapuni silverbeet seedlings at your local supermarket, Bunnings or The Warehouse. Or, jump online and have them sent direct to your door.

The key to planting silverbeet is making sure your soil is well drained. If it’s a bit sluggish, try building it up into mounds. Or if you’re using a pot, make sure you use a good potting mix. .

Speaking of pots, I find they’re perfect for playing host to rainbow beet. That’s right; silverbeet doesn’t just come in bog-standard green and white. The rainbow variety boasts coloured stalks, and leaves in differing shades of green which can really make a statement on your deck or patio – a healthy one at that. With coloured beet being a bit more sensitive than traditional silverbeet, pots also help keep the frost at bay, and allow you to position the plants for full sun.

Whichever variety you decide to go with, planting beet is easy. Dig a little hole and place the seedling inside. Whether you’re planting them in your garden or pots, simply space the seedlings around 20cm apart. From here they pretty much tend to look after themselves – just make sure you keep snails at bay with our tried and true beer bait.

Your silverbeet will be ready to harvest in around eight weeks if your soil is well-composted and free draining, or up to 12 weeks if it’s a bit sluggish. Try harvesting your coloured beet when it’s still young and add it to a spinach salad. Not only will it taste great, you’ll create a real family get-together for the two leafy cousins.

Read on for more details...
 

Complimentary companions

May is a great time to grow broad beans and this tasty legume is great companion to have in your garden. As mentioned in the Magic Mustard story, broad beans are considered a green manure. This means the bacteria on the roots of a broad bean plant turns  
nitrogen gas into forms that other plants can use – called nitrogen-fixing. Broad beans and potatoes like to be grown together because they each protect the other from pests. And broad beans also grow well next to spinach. But, don’t plant them next to onions!

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 or check out this page for Tod's tips on how to grow broad beans. And if you've had any experience with broad beans as a companion plant (good or bad) we'd love to hear about it. Email us here.

 

May is a good time to...

Dig over your soil and prepare for planting your winter veges and flowers.

Plant broccoli, broad beans, carrots, onions, peas, spinach, cauliflower and any other veges available from our online store.


Winners

Congratulations to the following Cultivated News subscribers, Yvonne from Outram, Carol from Palmerston North, Lata from Auckland, Kylie from Kaiapoi, Kay from Papamoa and Julie from Manurewa who have won Awapuni Nurseries seedlings simply for being subscribed during April.

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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