February 2019

From the nursery

There’s no rest for our irrigation tractors right now. We had 29deg three days in a row last week, and there’s no rain in sight. While a lot of seedlings are under shade cloth and have automatic watering, the tractors are busy watering all of our established natives and perennials. We’ve got delphiniums, foxgloves, swan plants and echinops (globe thistle) – all in 1.2L potting bags, looking great and ready to be planted out right now. Plus we’ve still got a few established chilli plants left – our ghost peppers are about 30cm tall and have quite a few chillies growing on them already.

Happy gardening,
Henri Ham

How to tell when your chillies are ready

A ripe chilli should pluck from your plant with ease. In saying that, best practice is to cut your chillies rather than pull them off – as this can damage the plant and prevent future chilli growing.

Ripe (green) jalapenos can reach around 8cm, and have a bright, shinny and firm skin. Red flame jalapenos will go onto turn almost black, and then to red. Chilli are edible at any stage of their growing cycle, but are tastiest when they’re left to darken up.


For the hotter varieties, the redder they get, the hotter they will taste. If you’re deliberately wanting them to hotten up, ease off the watering at the end – this will also cause them to shrivel up slightly.

And remember, chillies won’t all be ready at the same time on a plant, so continually check your plants to see when they’re in their prime. But if you do get excited and pick your chillies to early, ripen them up on your window sill, the same way you do for tomatoes.

Chillies keep well in the fridge for a week, or in a sealed bag in the freezer for up to a year.


WIN: Lynda Hallinan's new book

Win Lynda Hallinan's new book, Damson: From Hedgerow to Harvest

Early settlers brought small, sour purple, self-fertile Damson plums to New Zealand in the mid-1850s, and these English heirlooms are ripening now. Damsons are prized for preserving, whether you want to make jam, jelly, chutney, paste or gin!

Gardening guru Lynda Hallinan has just published the ultimate guide to growing damsons, with practical gardening advice and more than 75 recipes in Damson: From Hedgerow to Harvest. You can order Lynda's book from foggydalefarm.

We have an autographed copy to give away, along with a copy of Lynda's previous preserving bible, Foggydale Farm Jam Sessions (Value $100). To enter the draw, click here.


Feb is a good time to

Harvest your crops. Right now, everything is in abundance. Cucumbers, tomatoes, corn, beans, eggplant, chillies and onions to name a few. Take note of where you planted them, so you can move your crops locations around next season.

Continue to keep up your watering. Tomatoes, cucumbers and melons thrive on extra water – the more water the juicier they will become. Remember to keep your watering away from their leaves though, if possible. But for your chillies, when they are close to being harvested, easing back on their watering can help them hotten up.

You can now start planning your autumn and winter vege garden. Broccoli, cauliflower, beetroot, leeks, spinach, rhubarb and silverbeet can all be planted right now. Try to have the ground clear for a few weeks in between crops. Use this time to dig through some lime, compost, and give the soil a good turning over.

Read more


Recycling your rain water

How’s your water usage been this summer? With more regional councils rolling out residential water meters each year, it makes sense to reuse water where you can.

We love these ideas from thisNZlife on how to set up a rainwater collection system in a small garden. Letting you water your plants and not feel guilty about your water consumption.

  Photo credit: thisNZlife
  Did you know that studies show that gardens watered with rainwater will be greener, and have higher rates of growth, compared to tap watered gardens? Even collecting the rain water off a small shed in your garden can make a big difference to how much town water supply you’ll need to use on your garden. You can read more here.

Image by I Heart Naptime  

Go potty for geraniums

Want to inject some bright colour into a super sunny spot in your garden? How about planting some geraniums? These hardy, sun-loving plants are perfect for those prime spots in your garden that often get too hot or are slightly too exposed for other flowers.

Geraniums are a cute low-spreading plant, with flowers that push above its foliage – like little posies. And they have a beautiful scent too.

For your geranium seedlings, head to Awapuni Nurseries online shop. We currently have violet and bulls eye mix varieties available now. Our bulls eye mix blooms in pinks, reds, and oranges. But if you’re after a classic white, in around March our ‘new to the nursery this season’ white geraniums will also be ready to order.

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Gardeners of the galaxy

Take the kids on a space mission this summer, at the Auckland Botanical Gardens. Gardeners of the galaxy provides a fun educational way for kids to combine their interest in space with gardening. Find out how plants are essential for life in space. Did you know that astronauts have grown zinnias in space? It’s on now daily, until the 10th March, 8am – 4.30pm at the Auckland Botanical Gardens, Hill Road, Manurewa.

If this sounds a little ‘youthful’ for you, the Auckland Botanical Gardens have some upcoming gardening workshops, offering practical seasonal workshops. Click here for more info on what’s on.

If you’re in another part of the country and wanting to visit some beautiful gardens this summer, head to NZ Gardens Trust, where you can search for quality garden experiences by region.


Relishing your tomatoes

If it feels like it’s raining tomatoes in your garden right now, make some jars of tomato relish to stow away for the winter months. Our recipe for tomato relish will reward you with two to three medium sized jars of relish, which when sealed can keep for up to a year in your panty. They never last this long in ours though.

Or if you’ve got an excess of capsicums and chillies as well – here’s our chutney recipe to use up your supplies. Many chutneys, like this one, have apples as a base. If you’re feeling wayward, try subbing out the apples with pears for an extra twist.


Growing in pots

Running out of room in your garden, or just wanting to mix things up? How about planting some vege in pots. Lettuces are always a good place to start – they’re fast to grow and you can usually fit a few in the one pot (size depending). Cos and buttercrunch are all taller varieties, good for pots. I like to slip in a few spring onions and herbs all in the same pot, and keep it close to the front door so I’ve got no excuse to not be using fresh ingredients and green garnishes over the summer season.

Radishes are another fast maturing option for pots – plant them 4 cms apart and you could be harvesting some in around six weeks time. If you like the sound of all of these – you’ll want to check out our mixed vege 3 bundle. It has a combo of spring onion, lettuce and radish seedlings.

Peas and baby carrots are more suitable pot contenders too. Peas require something to climb up, so either have the pot big enough to hold a stake in, or place next to a wall with a climbing frame on it. Baby carrots planted in a fine compost soil will grow delicious little carrots. But you’ll need a significantly larger deeper pot if you decide to let them grow on to become larger carrots. So, it’s best to pull them out early. To read more on veges in pots, head to this blog from Quickcrop.


Let-us eat salad

Lettuce salads have been a headliner in my kitchen lately. This hot summer heat we’ve been having has kept me busy watering in the garden, but there’s been lots of harvesting taking place too. This also means I’ve had to replant lettuce seedlings (every few weeks) to continue my prolific supply.

The good thing is, even for the most novice of gardeners, you can’t go wrong planting a few lettuces. They’re simple to grow, quick to produce and take up relatively little room.

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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

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