February 2016

Bountiful broccoli



If your garden is anything like Harry’s (click here to see his beginner vege garden blog) at the moment, you’ll have plenty of broccoli to go around. And while it’s great to have plenty of fresh vegetables sometimes you can have too much or want to save some for later.

Try cutting up and freezing broccoli in resealable bags or check out this delicious broccoli and bacon soup recipe. If you find yourself getting a glut of other veges like zucchini and capsicums in the near future, you might want to take a look at our zucchini relish recipe. And, if you haven’t seen it already, above is a pic of Harry’s humongous broccoli – not bad for a beginner!



Super celery



Celery is a versatile plant that can be enjoyed raw in salads, added to stir-fries, used in soups or simply served as a vegetable. It can be a little trickier than some veges to grow but is well worth making the effort for. For Tod’s top tips and a step-by-step guide on how to grow celery visit here.

Burning question

I have lots of monarch butterfly caterpillars in my garden but I am quickly running out of swan plants to feed them. If I buy swan plants can I put my caterpillars on them straight away?



No. Most nurseries or garden centres (including us) spray their swan plants at some point during the growing process to ensure they’re not eaten alive before they’re sold. And our swan plants are small plants that need time to establish before becoming a meal. If you think you’re going to run out of food soon, I recommend buying some swan plants now to build up your feed stock before you need it. When you get the plants hose them off immediately to ensure you’ve got rid of any remaining insecticide. Then, as soon as you’ve got your plants in the ground, cover them with some sort of fine cloche/mesh that will prevent monarchs laying eggs on them. Keep the cover on for around two weeks or more. This will allow the plants to become established enough to handle the caterpillars ferocious appetite and will ensure there is no remaining spray residue.

Click here to email Tod your burning question today.

February is a good time to...



Grow celery and leeks. Keep planting lettuce, basil and spring onions for summer salads. Cut back your oregano so it doesn’t go leggy. Water courgettes, beans, strawberries and tomatoes to ensure they produce good fruit.

Don’t have any tomatoes yet? Help spread the pollen from one flower to another with a paintbrush to help them pollinate. And harvest your fennel.

Click here to read more



Keeping the nursery spick and span

We’ve just finished getting our nursery hedges trimmed. Pictured is the tractor that does such a great job. On the end of the boom there are four huge spinning saw blades which trim the sides and tops of even the tallest of our hedges.

It's a massive four-day job – even for the tractor. So there is no way we would be able to attempt it by hand with chainsaws and hedge trimmers.
 

All our team chipped in to pick up branches and where possible we use our loader to push the branches into heaps for burning. We won't make the mistake we made last time when we burned the trimmings. We burned them when they were still too green and caused a smoke blanket that covered most of Palmerston North. The fire chief who visited the nursery asked to shake my hand as he had never seen a sight like it before.

Happy gardening

Henri Ham
 

Complementary companions

Fennel is said to deter fleas and should be planted outside your dog’s kennel or used in a spray. We’ve also been told if you scrunch it in your hand until the juices flow and rub into your dog’s coat it will help keep away fleas because they hate the aniseed flavour.

As we said in an earlier column, don’t plant fennel near coriander as they will destroy each other. You shouldn’t plant it near beans or tomatoes either. And never plant worm wood near fennel as this will stunt its growth or even kill it.
 

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 fennel as a companion plant (good or bad) we’d love to hear about it.


Create cottage garden colour with Canterbury bells

I often use the term cottage garden when describing the type of garden a particular flower might best suit. I actually use the term so often it’s easy to forget that others – particularly those new to gardening – might not know what I mean by it.

So, I thought I’d start off this article by explaining that ‘cottage garden’ typically implies an informal garden with dense and ‘messy’ plantings (a mixture of floral and edible) that are often fragrant.
 

For those wanting to create this type of effect look no further than Awapuni Nurseries cottage garden mixed bundle of seedlings. It includes a mix of seasonal flowers like antirrhinums (snap dragons), carnations, love in the mist and pansies which combined together create a lovely cottage garden feel.

Another plant I like to grow when trying to create this type of whimsical feel in a garden, is Canterbury bells. This biennial (they flower for two seasons and die down in between) grows to around 80cm high and produces beautiful, as the name suggests, bell shaped violet, purple and pink flowers.

It’s perfect for planting around fences or borders and with delphiniums, hollyhocks and snapdragons because of the height it grows to. The fence or border will help support it as it grows taller. Otherwise you can simply stake it if needed. Canterbury bells also grow well with roses (another cottage garden flower) because it likes the same sunny conditions.

Click here to read more
 

Extend your growing with a greenhouse

Green or glasshouses are great for broadening your gardening options.

They allow you to extend your growing season and grow tender or delicate plants you might not normally be able to grow because of the climate where you live.

 
Not everyone can fit or afford a typical greenhouse which is why we love this list of DIY greenhouse projects from The Garden Glove. Do you have a DIY greenhouse? If you do we’d love to see a pic of it. Feel free to share it on our Facebook page or flick us an email here.

 

Invest in asparagus

If ever a saying was made for something, it would have to be asparagus and ‘good things take time’.

In my mind, there’s no doubt asparagus fall into the category of a good thing. And they certainly take time!

 
Plant asparagus now and you won’t even know for a few years whether they’re going to produce a good crop. But if you get it right, you’ll be rewarded with fresh, tasty asparagus for years to come.

If you know you’re going to be at your property for at least several (but hopefully more) years and you’ve got the space to dedicate an area for growing, then plant your asparagus now. The quicker you get them into the ground the sooner you’ll be able to reap the rewards.

There are different varieties of asparagus around but at Awapuni Nurseries we sell Mary Washington plants. This is one of the more common and popular varieties. It’s an heirloom plant and great for the garden because it’s extremely hardy and produces tender, thick and straight spears – and lots of them!

For the average family you’ll need to plant no less than 10 asparagus – probably more like 15. Our bundles each have nine plants in them so we recommend buying two for plot that will feed a family. You can grab your Mary Washington asparagus plants from our online shop and have them delivered direct to your door. Or check out the Awapuni Nurseries seedling stand next time you’re at your local Bunnings, the Warehouse or supermarket.

Click here to read more


Fabulous Phlox

At Awapuni we stock two varieties of this pretty annual – twinkle star and drummondii. Both varieties grow to a height of 25cm and like full sun and well-drained soil. This bedding flower can have quite a wild appearance and grows nicely with cosmos. Plant each seedling 15cm apart in quite tight rows for a nice visual effect.

Phlox also grows well in pots because it doesn’t mind dry conditions. Wherever you plant keep the soil moist but don’t overwater. They will flower in about four to six weeks from planting. Is there an Awapuni plant you’d like to know more about? Simply flick us an email and we’ll do a profile in an upcoming issue of Cultivated News.


 

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

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