December 2018

Henri’s guide to planting Kūmara

I’ve noticed a few veges lately that have really got people talking. Christmas potatoes are one, and the other is a great kiwi classic – the kūmara. We’ve seen a lot of questioning coming through to the nursery on how to grow kūmara, so I’ve tried something new and made a video growing guide for you. To watch, click here.

  plant covers at awapuni nursery
  I’m not sure I’m going to quit my day job just yet – but it was lots of fun filming it. Next up we are going to try a chilli planting video, which is a ‘hot’ topic right now.

Happy gardening,
Henri Ham


December is a good time to...

Harvest your garlic. Traditionally gardeners do this on the longest day of the year – 21st December. However, I like to keep a lookout for the leaves drying and yellowing off to know when to harvest my garlic. Gently dig them up, watching to not yank the leaves or you might tear the stalks off. Then brush off the dirt and string them up to dry, in an airy spot indoors.

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Winning with worm farming

Worm farms are an excellent way to recycle your kitchen scraps into a rich and organic garden fertiliser. Worm farming has been growing in popularity for a few years now, but I’ve only just got going on my own one, from WormsRus.

The bottom layer of a worm farm drains to make worm tea. The tea is an intensely rich liquid plant food that you mix with water, and feed to your plants. After a few months, a tray of worm castings builds up, ready to be dug into your garden. The castings are a great soil conditioner for your garden, and if you don’t have a farm, you can buy the castings in 10L bags.

Click here to WIN one of four 10L bags of worm castings from WormsRus.

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Christmas Orders

Place your order at our online shop by 9am Monday 17th of December for delivery before Christmas. If you live in a North Island main centre you have until 9am Thursday 20th December to place your order.

Over the Christmas holidays – only North Island central towns - if you place online orders by 9am Thursday 27th December for delivery Friday 28th December, and by 9am Thursday 3rd January for delivery on Friday 4th January.

If you’re Rural / South Island – and place an order between 17th December (after 9am) and 6th Jan – it will be likely delivered week commencing 7th Jan.

Nursery hours: Our office and the physical shop at the nursery will be open Thursday and Friday only during the last week of December and the first week of January. Our hours return to normal on Monday 7th of January.


Rise and shine sunflowers

Sunflowers are pure fun in the garden. They’re bright, cheery and bring out the inner child in us all. For me, they also release my competitive streak - where I can’t help but check out other people’s sunflowers and mentally compare them to ones I’m growing.

After the erratic spring weather we’ve been having lately, December is the perfect time to start thinking about planting some sunflowers in your garden.

Credit: Kuriositas
  Sunflowers come in all shapes and sizes. Varying in height (from to 60cm to 3m tall), and flowering in colours from crimson to orange, yellow and even stripes. Most sunflowers each produce a single flower head, although some branching varieties grow multiples. And the largest heads can grow up to 50cm wide.

Sunflowers are heliotropic, meaning they turn their heads throughout the day to gain maximum sun rays on their faces. So factor this in when you’re working out where to plant them in the garden. If you place them on the western border to your house, they’ll be facing away from you in the afternoon sun.

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Growing asparagus is the ultimate test of patience for a gardener. It can take up to four years before you can harvest any spears to eat. But a good bed can produce for up to 50 years, so it’s definitely worth the wait.

The average family would need 10 – 15 plants, on a plot about 2m x 2m. Awapuni have asparagus in regular sized bundles of nine seedlings, so you might need a couple bundles to feed the average family. I love my summer asparagus, so definitely need more than this! To read more on how to grow asparagus read our gardening guide Invest in asparagus here.

Try something new - lemongrass

Lemongrass is an aromatic grass often grown for its oils and used for flavourings. I love to add it to Asian soups (like Tom Yum) which I make with a concentrate paste from my local supermarket. I then add a stalk of lemongrass, some fresh ginger and sliced capsicum to pass it off as my own homemade brew.

If you plant your lemongrass seedlings now, you’ll be harvesting them in around three months. Plant your lemongrass in a partially sunny area, and watch the leaves shoot up to around 1m tall. Once harvested, lemongrass freezes really well. Remember to always freeze it in a snap-lock bag. From there your lemongrass will be Ideal to free-flow one stalk at a time when the need arises.


The perfect summer treat is a fresh piece of watermelon, straight from the garden. Our watermelon seedlings are ready now, coming in regular bundles with three seedlings in each. Each plant will need around 2m x 1m of well drained ground to grow over.

Watermelons require around three months of sun and heat averaging above 20°C. Not all areas of NZ are able to provide these conditions so be realistic about whether your garden can provide the heat required for successful watermelon fruit.

For some more advice read our working-on-watermelon guide here.


The kaleidoscope of colourful capsicums

Summer is knocking on the door (well it should be), which means it’s now the perfect time to start planting capsicums in your garden.

Capsicums, known in other countries as sweet bell peppers, are surprisingly easy to grow. Their main need is for a warm sunny environment. Once you’ve ticked off that, they’re really plant-and-forget veges – requiring little maintenance.

But what I really love about capsicums is the way they change their colour as they ripen – showing off their kaleidoscope of colour. They all start out green and then change colour to yellow, then orange, and lastly red. And the longer they’re on the plant, the sweeter they will become.

  Another great thing about capsicums is that they cope well in confined spaces with little watering. This means they thrive well in a pot. Planting them in a pot also allows you to shift them around to maximise the sun, and also really show them off to your friends and curious neighbours.

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From last month

Congratulations to Jeanette from Waimauku, Christine from Wanganui and Michelle from Auckland. They each won a copy of Nicola Galloways 2019 Recipe calendar, Homegrown Kitchen. And the many of you who correctly identified the leafy greens and herbs I’d picked – and received codes for free bundles in your next order.

And lastly, make sure you’ve read the worm farming article in this newsletter to enter the competition to win some gardeners “black gold” – worm castings 10L bags.


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Awapuni Nurseries Ltd, Pioneer Highway,
PO Box 7075, Palmerston North 4443, NEW ZEALAND
Phone: 64 6 354-8828 Fax: 64 6 354-8857