The soil will warming up and your plants will start to take up nutrients and get growing. With warmer weather head outside and start feeding, sowing and planting.
Its time to get your tomato "possy" ready. It needs to be free draining, loaded with compost and rotted animal manure. If you are planning to plant them our soon, remember to protect them from the weather. They easily get cold feet;
Tomatoes are in store this month. Here's top tips when planting
Plant tomatoes near a brick wall, especially here in the South Island. The wall absorbs heat which means your fruit ripens faster.
Try putting your grass clippings (spray free) into your tomato garden all year before planting and you'll have the best tomatoes for miles around!
Place a raw egg under each tomato, when you plant them out. It will act as a brilliant food source for the entire season.
Give them enough space to grow and prosper. Make them less prone to problems later on.
Try not to plant them in the same spot every year.
Liquid feed, water them early in the day.
Tasks for the month:
Keep planting vege seedlings. Lettuces are now in full force and ready to plant. Remember slug bait
Don't forget to feed your garlic and shallots. A good dose of liquid fertiliser every three weeks or so will ensure a bumper crop
Net your cabbages, broccoli and caulis with fine mesh so they wont get infested with the caterpillars of the white cabbage butterfly.
Fertilise in spring when plants are growing fast and taking up lots of nutrients. Use one high in nitrogen for leafy growth, high in potassium to encourage fruiting plants, high in phosphorous for healthy roots. We have a great range of organic options.
Remember the bees...cause once it starts warming up they'll start buzzing around. They like Lavender, Borage, Salvia, Catmint, Bergamot and many more delights. If you have clover in your lawn, bees love it. Also remember they are your best pollinators, they pollinate a third of our daily diet.
Lemon and Ginger Ice Cream Sauce
3 whole soft skinned lemons
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 4 lemons
1 cup water
3 Tlbs cornflour
2 tsp ginger powder
1 more cup water
- Cut the end off the lemons and cut into quarters. Remove any pips and the white connective tissue in the centre
- Chop into smaller chunks and whizz in a food processor until very finely chopped. Add some freshly squeezed lemon juice
if you need more liquid. You should end up with 2 cups of pulp.
- Place the whizzed lemons, juice, sugar and water in a heavy bottomed pot, stir while you bring to simmer.
- Cook stirring all the time for 15 minutes then add cornflour and ginger powder which you shake together with remaining cup of water. Continue to cook until mixture thickens.
- Bottle into sterilised jars or bottles, keeps for 2 months once opened.
Citrus As the frosts get lighter and fewer of them, we can start thinking about citrus trees and which ones we would like to plant. Because they are so versatile, and relatively small it's not difficult to find room to grow some. As well as fruit, they provide multiple ornamental benefits; great shape, glossy evergreen foliage, cheerful winter colour and deliciously fragrant flowers.
Choose the warmest, sunniest, most sheltered and frost free site for planting all citrus varieties. Irrigate well particularly over summer because trees that are water stressed out over the dry months are less able tolerate winter cold. Protect trees with frost cloth, particularly young trees. It is preferable to suspend the frost cloth above the plant rather than have it sitting on top. It gives greater protection. Vaporgard sprayed on the foliage at the beginning of winter will give the tree an extra 2-3 degrees protection and this can make a big difference. Don't feed them in autumn or winter as this promotes soft new growth that will die in the cold, which wastes the plant's energy. Feed generously in spring and summer as citrus are gross feeders. A slow release or granular fertiliser is ideal but also a fortnightly spray with a quality liquid feed is great for strengthening the trees health. A healthy tree is more frost tolerant, and more resistant to pests and diseases. When planting, incorporate a big handful of Magic Moss directly under the rootball especially if you're planting into a container. Magic Moss will hold plenty of moisture and nutrients around the roots which will help establish a strong, healthy, dark green plant. Prune in late spring or early summer when all frosts have finished. Right now in store we have an extensive range of citrus varieties to choose from, also some lovely large grade lemons and limes at about 1.5m high. We also stock Magic Moss, citrus potting mix and a good range of citrus fertilisers.
Frequently asked question about Citrus; Q: Why is my citrus dry and thick skinned? A: In cold regions frosts can damage cells in the fruits, resulting in dry thickened skinned fruits. Or it is a case of nutrient imbalance. Citrus require relatively large amounts of nutrients compared to many other fruit trees, nitrogen to encourage leaf and shoot growth and phosphorus for roots, flowers and fruit. Too much nitrogen compared to phosphorus can result in fewer fruits and dry fruit with thick skins. Water is also essential for the production of juicy citrus fruit so water regularly and mulching with peastraw is also recommended.
It's time to feed your Roses. Try one of the following and fork it in around the drop line;
well rotted compost, blood and bone and animal manure
or try making the following in a wheelbarrow....
3 kg sulphate of ammonia
2.5kg sulphate of pot ash
1kg sulphate of iron
1kg dried blood
1kg epsom salts
Fork a handful around each rose. It is strong stuff so don't use it every year. Keep the watering up. Foliage feed is a good option for the season. Keep a watchful eye on any bugs or fungus problems. Remember a healthy rose copes a lot better with life, than a sick and hungry one!
October is a lovely month, the days are longer due to day light saving. This gives us gardeners more time to spend in our outdoor area.
In the vegetable garden we are enjoying picking our home grown asparagus, you can pick them from now until December. Check your asparagus bed regularly for new little deliciousness, and give your bed a feed every now and then with some liquid seaweed and sheep pellets. Also keep your asparagus bed free from weeds. Pick the spears are 10-15cm high in the second or third year after planting.
Using your freshly picked asparagus heres a simple but tasty side salad;
10 thin spears of fresh asparagus
12 cherry tomatoes
fresh dill, lemon thyme, basil
extra oil olive
Cut asparagus in 3cm lengths and tomatoes into quarters, lightly fry asparagus in wok or fry pan with a splash of extra virgin oil and lemon thyme until tips start to soften (approx 4mins)
Finely chop dill and basil mix with teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil
Remove asparagus from heat and let cool. Toss with diced tomatoes and oil/herb mixture.
Serve with a garnish of dill.
Vegetable of the month
They produce heavier crops, are more disease resistant and more vigorous, live longer than ungrafted plants and they produce tender, glossy dark purple fruit. Best grown in a large pot in a warm sheltered spot, liquid feed regularly.
Tomatoes, courgettes, cucumbers and peppers can be planted now in the glasshouse or potted into bigger pots and kept in a warm spot until the end of October, then planted out which will give them a good head start.
Tamarillos are in stock now - a fast growing, decorative tree with large, tropical-looking foliage (notice the word tropical - they do need a sunny, warm protected site in well drained soil that is rich in organic matter. Avoid all frosts.
It's a beautiful looking tree and the bight red fruit are packed with vitamins, and produce nearly all year round. Prune hard in spring
to ensure good fruiting growth. Mulch well and keep moist during warm weather.
We are slowly but surely filling up with summer bedding plants and veges galore.
We have beautiful geraniums, delphiniums, fuchsias, petunias, impatiens, lobelia, just to name a few. Exciting times ahead!
Colourwave Sunbells "Butter Pop"
Masses of white and yellow blooms that cover the plant for many months. Great for hanging baskets and pots. Something new to brighten up the garden.
Marguerite daisies are unsurpassed for their ability to provide a mass of colourful blooms over spring, summer and autumn.
The Federation series of daisies have been bred for larger flowers and lots of them, and are available in a number of different colours and forms.
Another daisy flower is Arctotis which also flowers continuously but has much bigger, bolder flowers than the federations. Its redeeming feature is its ability to grow in most conditions especially dry, making it very useful for planting on difficult to cover dry banks and to trail over retaining walls. Available in lovely sunshine colours that are enhanced by the extra silvery foliage.
Some great plants for a shady area are the Heucheras. We currently have Marmalade and Lime Marmalade at the great price of $9.99 for good size plants. Marmalade has been around for a number of years now so is a proven winner and is the parent plant of Lime Marmalade, passing on its vigour and toughness. The lime colour is great for brightening up shade areas. All the light coloured Heucheras are best planted in part to full sun. They winter over without dying down or getting frosted.
More Daphnes have arrived in store. This is our last shipment until next winter so be in quick to secure these delightful garden favourites with their most delicious fragrance.
We have several grades to suit all budgets. We also have different varieties, the white, the Himalayan (or tree Daphne), Perfume Princess which tolerates more sun and lastly Daphne burkwoodii.
Our roses are looking fabulous and healthy. We have a great selection of varieties including many new ones, both in standards and bush. We stock Matthews Roses, the very best quality roses.
It is time to seriously think about getting your potato crop in. We still have a good range of seed potatoes although some varieties have sold out for the season. If you have been sprouting them, they should have nice shoots ready for planting but still be cautious if there is any hint of a frost. When they are in the ground have some frost cloth handy to cover them so the fresh growth doesn't get burnt. Mix in some potato food as a base dressing then feed through the growing season regularly with Seasol and once a month, potato food.
Hanging baskets look stunning enhancing porches and verandahs, or hung in areas of your garden on structures. To get the best looking baskets you need to plan what to plant and where your baskets will hang.
Suitable plants for hanging baskets: Annual flowering plants - Aylssum, Impatiens (good for shade), Lobelia, Nasturtium, Pansies, Petunias
Baskets you can eat from - Strawberry, Parsley, Pizza Thyme, Nasturtiums, Tumbling Tom Tomatoes. Easy steps to showy baskets :
Select a suitable sized basket or pot for the chosen area
Fill with a specialist potting mix
Plant your selected plants
Mulch the top of the basket with some spaghum moss or compost.
Our Kings seed range is restocked weekly and we can order in anything you require that is not on our shelves.
Do you have an apple or pear tree? If so, you might want to consider hanging a pheromone trap in the tree for catching codling moth. None of us like biting into a lovely looking apple only to find maggot damage. This is mainly caused by caterpillars of the codling moth. Female moths lay eggs on leaves and fruit. The eggs hatch after 10-14 days and caterpillars bore into the fruitlets carving galleries inside. The codling moth is 8mm long, grey, with black lines and a distinctive copper patch on the wing tips. The pheromone trap lures the male moths to a sticky death. This interrupts the life cycle as the female remains unfertilised. Male moths fly on warm nights when dusk temperatures reach 13 degrees c, then they start to mate when dusk temperatures reach 17c. This is from about mid Sept onwards. Enjoy juicy home grown, maggot-free apples and pears.
Love your garden - we are here to help you achieve this
So heres November, all warm and sunny-we hope! And finally we should be able to plant out the most frost tender plants like tomatoes, courgettes etc, its a good idea to protect them at first from the cold and wind with our plant cloches. It will also stop the birds from pecking at them.
As we all know tomatoes are hard core disease "attractors", so healthy well watered, well fed plants have a better chance of staving off all kinds of aliments. They prefer deep dark, and spongy soil, rich in organic matter, plus a good mulch. Water deeply once to twice a week, depending on weather of course. Try to avoid getting the leaves too wet, soaking is best.
Tomatoes need continuous supply of nutrients to support their rapid growth, and plenty of fresh air.
You can plant your tomatoes seedlings a few centimetres deeper than they were in their pots to stimulate new feeder roots for extra strength and ability for nutrient uptake.
Here are some tomato varieties for this year to try;
Big Beef - An oldie, but a goodie, a giant juicy tomato that has that taste of beefsteak. Beautiful! Great for a sammie or on your toast. Heavy yielder and disease resistant.
Russian Red - Reliable semi-dwarf variety, medium sized fruit. Early bearing and very tasty. Sturdy and hardy and a good space saver.
Sungold - long trusses of up to 20 bright apricot-orange bite sized fruit rated by some as the best tasting cherry tomato in the world. Sensational tropical flavour.
Tasty Tom - Bred to put the taste sensation back into tomatoes. It really is an absolutely beautifully tasting medium sized tomato. Really worth a try.
Nothing beats a homegrown tomato!
Vegetable of the Month
Courgette "Tennis Ball". Round shiny fruit with mottled dark skin and deliciously flavoured flesh. Upright habit makes harvesting a breeze. Unusual and interesting.
We stock organic vegetable seedlings, which are proving popular.
Give established vegetable plants a weekly feed with either Seasol or Grosafe BioPower Seaweed Flake to enhance plant growth and improve yields and crop quality.
It's time to revamp your hanging baskets now so they are flowering beautifully for Christmas and right through the summer and autumn months. We have many pretty options for making a colourful display; come in and we will help you choose something, or ask Bjorg and she will custom plant a basket for you. You don't need to stick to planting just the top of the basket; plant round the sides as well. If using lobelia, then use the cascading variety in the top for it to spill over and hang down, but if you want it round the sides, then use the upright as it hugs the basket neatly. Fuchsias and petunias are a good option if you just want the simplicity of one plant. Other ideas are Ivy Geraniums and Bacopa.
Keep your roses well watered
Liquid feed your baskets and pots
Keep an eye out for aphids
Keep up with the wedding
Make of all take time to enjoy your garden!
Hostas have all popped up now and looking great. Some Hostas stay very small while others grow tall with huge leaves. If you have room in your garden for a large one, it will really create a striking focal point. The colours range from blue-grays to plain greens to a variety of variegated creams and yellows. The flower spikes appear in summer and some are lightly fragrant, but grow them for the foliage rather than the flowers. Slugs and snails are the big enemy of hostas. They chew holes in the leaves and ruin the look of them. Many of the newer varieties have thick leaves that are more slug resistant, but it still pays to put down a light sprinkling of slug bait.
Indoor colour and foliage
Our houseplant range includes stunning Cymbidium hybrid orchids. The leaves are ribbon-shaped and
when long racemens of heavy waxy flowers are produced, the plant makes a truly exotic display.
They are easy to care for and can be put outside under trees, just bring them in or into conservatories
Feeling rained and drained out? Don't blame you. How much rain do we need? So with December here now, lets hope for sunny weather and balmy nights. So now is a good time to attend to your roses, veges, pots and baskets.
Keep dead heading your roses, it will keep them tidy and clean and ready for the next flush of growth to come through. Liquid feed and spray with Enspray 99 oil for pests and fungal problems. And keep the water up, its better to water less frequently and leave that water on longer, for deep watering.
Keep planting out your vege garden, we always have a great range of quality veges available.
We have, amongst others, four interesting varieties of tomatoes looking robust and healthy;
There is a good range of Elite potted colour range that are very well suit to pots and baskets. Including cascading petunias, bacopas and osteospermum, to name a few, at a very reasonable price too. It is a good idea to include spagnum moss in all your containers and baskets that you are planting up for summer. It really make a big difference in retaining moisture.
"Night Sky" Petunia is a recent new release, with white spots on dark violet flowers, that remind one of an ever changing star constellation. It has a mounding trailing habit. It is very unusual and eyecatching plant - worth a go!
Vegetable of the Month
"The humble leek"..... Although it is a symbol of pride in Welsh culture. The leek is a relative of the onion, but has a more subtle and sweeter flavour than onion. I think it is a must in any vegetable garden as it has so many uses, soups, roasted, cooked and chopped up in salads when they are young and frivilous!
We will have leek bundles in store towards the end of the month, depending on the weather.
In the shop we have some lovely flowering house plants as well as new seasons Poinsettias which are great for a centre piece on your table for Christmas. Remember that if you have your Poinsettia from last year and the new growth does not turn red naturally you will need to trick the plant into thinking there are more hours of darkness per day. Do this by putting the plant in a cupboard for a few hours during the day till the growth turns red.
We also have Peace Lilies, Anthiriums and two grads of Phalaenopsis Orchids
A new shipment of Lyfestyle pots have come in for indoor plants that you can plant directly into as they have drainage and saucers
Portstone Gift Vouchers - perfect for giving to lovers of gardening
Happy New Year from the team at Portstone. January is the month for making the most of the long evenings, have a few barbecues, enjoy sharing your home-grown produce with family and friends.
THE EDIBLE GARDEN
You will need to check on your vege garden daily as many plants will be producing in abundance. Harvest your courgettes, cucumbers, beans and peas while they are young and sweet. Regular picking also encourages the plants to produce for many more weeks.
Keep planting out lettuces, silverbeet, spinach and radishes. You can also start putting in seedlings of your late autumn crops like cabbages and cauliflowers.
Your tomatoes will be ripening nicely now. Take the time to clip out the thinner branches around the lower part of the plant as this allows air to circulate better and lets more light in which speeds up the ripening of the fruit.
Leeks will be available this month.
Leeks like a soil rich in organic matter. Dig in plenty of compost or well-aged manure before planting.
As a leafy crop, leeks benefit from one high in nitrogen, which promotes leafy growth.
Plant Leeks in trenches 15cm deep and 15cm apart with rows 30cm apart, making sure they get full sun; if planting in hot weather trim back the leaves to reduce moisture loss while the roots get established.
Your garlic and onions will be ready for harvesting – look out for leaves wilting and dying down. Dig with a fork, knocking off the excess soil and place in the sun to dry for a number of days. Store in a well aired, dry place, like a shed
You may like to plait your garlic, this looks good and stores well by hanging, place 3 bulbs and plait until near end,
using a leaf to tie the end of plait and use this to hang the plaited garlic.
Your strawberry plants will be rewarding you with delicious big juicy fruit, that is if you have been watering andfertiliser them
well. The best method is spraying onto the strawberry leaves, the 2nd best is a liquid feed via a watering can.
Your roses will appreciate lots of deep watering and dead heading - take notice of any roses in
full bloom so you can order for winter planting.
Keep checking for aphids, black spot and mildew on your roses and spray for control. Our range
of Grosafe products has Enspray 99 which is an organic spray. Do this during calm weather, best early morning
or evening. Give your roses a feed by scattering a handful of Nitrophoska around the base (not too close to the rose stem)
and water in.
Nitrophoska is a slow release fertiliser that gives long lasting nutrients to the plant.
February is normally the hottest and driest month of the year Summer. It is important to keep your garden watered, best to water early in the morning or late at night after 7pm when it is cooler. Use your compost and grass clippings as mulch.
The popular mulch pea straw should be available later in the month.
THE EDIBLE GARDEN
We have Leeks in store now, a bundle of 20 leeks for $5.99 - they are a fabulous winter vege,
so versatile and good for you, just remember to feed them as they are hungry little fellas.
A must for all vege gardens, easy to plant - make a 15cm hole with a broom handle,
pop the leek in and water well.
The first of the Spring Bulbs have arrived in store - Daffodils, Hyacinth, Irises, some Crocus and Ranunculus. with many more bulbs to come. It all of a sudden feels like spring is around the corner!
We have Swan plants in store, from smaller grade to large plants - just what the doctor ordered for
those hungry caterpillars. It is a good idea to keep some plants away from the butterflies, as a back
up food for the "little ones". Either by covering them up or take them inside. Also once a plant has
been eaten to just stalks, if you keep it warm and watered it will come back and sprout leaves again.
We have good varieties of vegetable seedlings that are ready to planted out. Remember Marigolds and Calendula planted amongst brassicas will help deter the white butterfly as well as brighten your vege garden up.
1 tin diced tomatoes
5 whole fresh tomatoes
1 large bunch fresh coriander
1 bunch garlic chives
1 bunch dill
1 small bunch hot n spicy oregano
1 medium onion
2 cloves garlic
1-2 chillies to taste
Sugar or pinch of Stevia
Dice onions and tomatoes.
Place tinned tomatoes, garlic, 3/4 of the coriander 1/2 the onions and 1/2 the tomatoes in the blender. Blend to thick "sauce" add desired chillies.
Add in the rest of the tomatoes and onions, splash of vinegar, sugar/stevia and mix throughly
Finely chop chives, dill, oregano and rest of coriander then add and mix well.
Serve at room temperate.
THE FLOWER GARDEN
Deadhead roses, petunias and any petunias and any other flowers that need it. This tidies up the plant and encourages more flowers. Check your garden for signs of stress, diseases and pests. Spray with appropriate sprays. Liquid feeding every second week will greatly help to keep plants strong and healthy.
There is always a good selection of potted colour for instant colour to brighten your pots, baskets or garden beds.
Feijoa are an increasingly popular tree for the home garden; not only does it fruit, but it is highly ornamental as well.
The pohutakawa like flowers put on a beautiful display around Christmas time and contrast nicely with the silver of the under leaf. "Unique" is deservedly a popular selection, with an abundance of early season fruit with excellent eating qualities. The fruit are medium to large size with rough skin and soft, juicy, smooth flesh. Unlike most other varieties of feijoa, it is self fertile so it doesn't require a second tree for pollination. Its great for organic gardens because very few pests and disease affect it.
March is the beginning of autumn which is natures optimal time for planting trees and shrubs. This is when plants make their maximum root growth, so planting now means the roots will get established before winter and then come spring the plant puts on lots of good top growth. So autumn planting gives your trees and shrubs the best chance of establishing well and being a strong, healthy plant. Also as weather cools, you do not have to water as often as you would have done over summer.
So come into Portstone, have a coffee and a wander around our lovely shrub area, and let our staff help you choose the best plants for your requirements.
We are in the process of stocking up for autumn so there will be lots of new stock coming in to make help make your garden look wonderful. Some of our old stock from spring and summer will be moved onto the bargain bin, so if you are looking for a bargain, there will be plenty to choose from.
There are buxus and escallonia, great for hedging at half price.
We also have a $9.99 bed of quality shrubs looking great - these are great cheap way of planting up a rental or a property about to sell. So remember March and April are the best time to plant!
If your garden needs a lift, our landscape designer Carol. With years of design experience and extensive plant knowledge Carol can help you choose trees and shrubs to fill any awkward gaps. We also provide an on site consultation service - just $70 for an hour of invaluable advice.
A more comprehensive concept or planting plan can be arranged by appointment, when we discuss in detail your garden preferences or requirements. Lets create a garden you'll love!
If your existing lawn isn't looking its best then now is the time to give your lawn a make over.
Thatching your lawn once a year keeps it healthy, using a scarifier removes the build up of dead grass which restores the passage of air, water and nutrients.
Look out for grass grub that live just beneath the surface. They have 6 legs, are pale creamy coloured and have a brown head, treat your lawn immediately if you see these.
Feed your lawn with a good lawn fertiliser.
The first of the seasons Pea Straw is now available. Pea Straw is full of goodness that over time breaks down adding nutrients to your soil, it acts as a mulch yet even placed in thick slab allows bulbs to emerge through come early spring.
There is still time to get another crop of lettuces going and basil will also thrive until the weather turns colder. You can plant basil into pots and bring inside on cold nights.
Plant out brassicas, your broccoli, kale, caulis, cabbages and brussel sprouts. By planting one or two punnets at a time you should get a continuous winter and spring feed. Brassicas are heavy feeders so put in compost and well rotted animal manure. Water and mulch to keep the soil evenly moist.
The best thing to avoid the dreaded caterpillers is to cover your crop with bug net or frost cloth until theres no sign of butterflies. So get cracking now so that your seedlings will be well established before the cold weather sets in.
You may wish to start thinking about sowing a green crop in part of your vegetable garden. Do this once harvesting is complete and you wish to rest your garden beds. The main options are mustard, blue lupin, and grain crops. you can get an all purpose mix with all of these seeds in one. Mustard seed is great for helping prevent wire worm, which attacks potatoes and carrots. Blue Lupin adds nitrogen to the soil, and grain crops add protein. They all help improve the soil structure. Best planted in late summer to autumn and let them grow for 7-8 weeks. Blue Lupin is best dug in when stems are still soft and green. Once you have done the initial digging it is beneficial to repeat a couple of weeks later.
Our Hibiscus are just starting to flower and would look stunning in a warm sheltered position.
Bulb, bulbs, bulbs We have so many varieties in store now and they keep coming! Nows the time to get them planted, we stock bulb mix, bulb baskets and bulb food - one stop shop for your spring flowering bulbs! See our guide to grow fabulous spring flowering bulbs.
In the shop we have new design in the Michel Design Works range of soaps, serviettes, matches, plates, room sprays etc. Beautifully presented - these are very popular as gift ideas.
Check out the new baby house plants - there are some interesting little gems.
Growing your own herbs greatly adds to the enjoyment, ensures freshness and enables you to control what sort of fertilisers are applied.
A good herb garden does not need to be large but does need good soil and plenty of sunlight, water, and continued fertilising will give sweet fresh leaves. Liquid fertiliser works very well with herbs.
In our cooler climate, some herbs are seasonal and will not survive a really cold winter. Basil, lemon grass and French tarragon do not survive (although I am going to put some basil in pots and keep out of the frost). The French tarragons cousin, Russian tarragon can tolerate the cold better, it is milder in taste and it's leaves are bigger than.
Other herbs struggle in the heat and prefer to be planted coming in or out of winter - like lettuce, pak choi, bok choi and coriander so if you are planting out now those herbs can go in, also parsley, chives, spring onion, dill, thyme, origanum and many more.
Consider planting some of the more invasive plants like mint in decorative tubs or stick the pot underground and you will not get mint in your lawn!
Coriander- also known as cilantro or chinese parsley and is indispensable to asian cusine. It's a quick growing annual that needs constant fertilising to encourage strong leaf growth. If growing for leaves, pinch out the flower stems which are preceded by fine fennel like leaves. Leaves can be picked and stored in the fridge in a sealed container for many days. Leaves and roots are essential to asian stir fries and sauces. The seeds are used to flavour curries.
Our winter flowering bedding plants are here now; primulas, polyanthus, stock, pansies, violas, poppies, ornamental kale, and hollyhock to name a few.
good selection of Fuchsias for that semi shade sheltered spot or pots and baskets
nows the time to put in a few perennials. Get them in now and they will be ready to burst forth come spring. We have a fantastic selection.
pansies and primulas in flower in our potted colour, for that instant look
huge selection of Tasty Treats fruits; figs, currants, olives, gooseberries, grapes and boysenberries to name a few
keep planting brassicas and spring bulbs
Autumn is the best time to plant.
Temperatures are cooler but the soil is still warm allowing root systems to establish before winter.
Think about planting any trees, shrubs and hedging plants as these give a garden its structure and add a backdrop for any flowering plants. To provide a strong foundation for your garden, a half to two thirds of your planting should be trees and shrubs.
Evergreens offer year-round privacy and shelter, and can be trimmed. Deciduous trees lose their leaves in winter allowing light to come through; these trees offer the most glorious colours with the changing season.
A selection of fruit trees have arrived ready for autumn planting. They are from a new and exciting range that have been bred especially for the home garden. They don't grow too big, are disease resistant, and easy to grow. Homegrown fruit is so much more flavoursome than store bought as you can leave the fruit to ripen on the tree. This makes them sweeter and juicier. The trees can be trained along fences, up walls, trimmed into balls, or planted in a bonsai bag, in order to maximise space in your garden. These young trees are small enough to fit easily into your car so come in to make your selections.
Our fruit tree list is out now describing our autumn range and what is coming in mid winter. We recommend you place an order early as some varieties are selling out quickly.
For planting your trees and shrubsfollowing this advice to get your new purchases off to a great start
· Water thoroughly to saturate the roots before planting.
· Dig a hole at least twice as wide and 1 ½ times deeper than the roots.
· Mix compost and slow release fertiliser into planting hole.
· Position stakes while you can still see the roots. Staking is important for most young trees to anchor the plant against wind while the roots get established. The best way is to have two stakes, one each side of the tree. Tie firmly with flexible ties.
Firm soil around the root ball. Water well after planting. Add a layer of mulch to retain moisture and suppress weeds.
With any deciduous tree you have fallen leaves so here’s a simple way to take care of them - Rake them up and put into some black plastic bags, add a scoop of soil and water lightly. Tie up the bags and leave in a shady corner of your property. Turn the bags every week and eventually they will break down leaving a beautiful leaf mould which you can dig back into your garden, adding back nutrients and feeding the soil. Do not add big piles of leaves to your compost, as they will stay like that for years.
Now is a great time to continue planting your vegetable garden.
Give it a feed of sheep pellets, seaweed and any organic fertiliser, and allow time for a thorough weeding and mulching. If you are "closing down" a garden for the winter, mulch with thick layers of peastraw as it will keep the weeds at bay and feed the soil. Also consider planting a green main crop such as blue lupin, mustard, or grain.
Broad beans can be planted out. This is traditionally done on ANZAC day, but anytime now will do. Pinch out the top of the plants when pods are 7-10cm long. This will encourage an earlier crop of well filled shoots and help to deter blackfly. Broad beans like a rich, well dug soil, but overall are not very fussy. We stock the new variety "Red Hughey" in seedlings and in seeds, their flowers are a little bit different from your normal flowers, they will surely brighten up your winter days with their wonderful red/crimson flowers.
Your tomatoes can now been removed if they have been planted outside. Pick off the ripe tomatoes and any green ones. Always discard your tomato plants into the green bin as most of them tend to pick up all sorts of diseases at the end of the season which you really don't want added in to your compost bin. Clean up the bed they were planted in, pick up the dead leaves and any windfall tomatoes on the ground. Give the bed a good raking over and a feed if you are going to replant or simply close it off for winter.
Roses - this year's Rose Catalogue is out now with lots of exciting new varieties plus a very good range of your tried and true roses.
May, the last month of autumn, we have usually had a frost or two by now, so frost tender planters will need some protection if they cannot be taken in under cover then covering them with frost cloth is obvious solution. But Vapogard is another, perhaps easier choice. Spray it all over the plant and it acts like Scotchgard on fabric, it puts a protective covering over the leaf, reducing transpiration. Spray it on at the beginning of winter, it lasts for 3 months.
For young plants, and frost below -3c, its is recommended to cover with frost cloth as well. Microclima gives the best frost protection. At 4 or 2 metres wide, its easy to fashion a cover suitable for the size of your plant.
May is the time to replenish the soil so it is ready for spring planting. Sow a green manure crop, then dig it into the soil before it flowers and this benefits the soil greatly.
Sowing lupins or broad beans will add nitrogen as these legumes fix nitrogen from the air. Good to use if your next crop is going to be a leafy green.
Where you have had carrots and other root crops, sow mustard seed. This helps to kill root-eating mematodes that live in the soil, but also, plant your root crops in a different place each year. Oats, wheat, barley and other cereal grasses, add lots of organic matter to the soil, improving the structure and bacterial life. This improves flavour, quality and health of your vegetables.
Make sure your green manure crop is dug into the ground at least 2 months before planting your spring crops, so that it has time to break down and work its magic. Cover with mulch, Portstone peastraw is a great choice and available now.
In the gift area we have an extensive range fo Michel Design serviettes and gifts, and a further two designs will be in store in time for Mothers Day (May 12th). They are always an acceptable present whatever the occassion and complement many a table setting, both formal and informal. Our display has been enlarged and is located just inside the main door - come in and you will be spoilt for choice.
Houseplants are ever popular and our range is constantly being restocked. The miniature Anthuriums (Flamingo Flower) are in demand for people with limited display space, the Cyclamen are always a colourful choice for Mother, and you can never go wrong with a Phalaenopsis orchid to add that exotic touch.
In the foliage section, we have finally acquired a nice fresh grade of Monstera (the Fruit Salad plant), the Maidenhair ferns look especially tempting, and all plants can be made that much more special in one of our ceramic indoor pots with matching saucer. What a better gift, and free gift wrapping too!
Following a feature on Kim Hill's Saturday morning programme about Dove River Peony products, we subsequently sold out of most of our stock, and we are currently placing an order for expected delivery in early May. Keep an eye out for some repackaging.
Autumn is such a beautiful season, the leaves have changed colour, as you are travelling round you will be aware of the bright tones of red, orange and yellow. You will also notice the leaves that have fallen.We really are now into mid Autumn, cooler mornings and evenings but when the sun is out – there is still warmth, therefore great gardening opportunities. Autumn is the optimum time of year for planting. It’s when plants make good root growth; so they’re well anchored and ready to take off in spring.
As well as leaves falling walnuts and hazelnuts will have hit the ground - these require collecting and drying.
Feijoas are in abundance at present – these plants are great as hedging, they are evergreen and produce gorgeous fruit. This recipe has been tested several times and it’s delicious.
Feijoa, Ginger and Banana Loaf
1 cup sugar
1 large overripe banana
11/4 cups plain flour
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp ground ginger
1½ tsp baking powder
1 ½ cups chopped feijoas
½ cup fresh ginger, diced
In a saucepan melt the butter, remove from heat and add the sugar and mashed banana.
Beat well and add flour, spices and baking powder. Fold in the feijoas and ginger.
Place mixture into a prepared tin and bake for approx. 50min until golden on top and cooked through.
Leave in the tin to cool before placing on rack.
Vegetable there is still time to plant brassicas, silverbeet, kale, celery, leeks and broad bean plants.
Corn salad is a hardy little salad plant with a nutty flavour, popular in Europe, that withstands even snow! Simply delicious with an olive oil dressing, feta cheese and tomato.
Give your winter vegetables a spray of seasol once a month for extra nutrients.
Roses arrive in store around Queens Birthday Week, so if you intend to plant some new roses or replace roses this is the time to prepare the soil for these new arrivals. Roses like at least half a day of sunshine but do not like wet feet, so the position selected should be well drained and sunny. Dig some Norlake Sheep Pellets into the soil and leave to settle for a couple of weeks before planting your new roses.
Garlic, Elephant Garlic and Shallots will be instore very soon, if not already by the time you receive this.
Grow great garlic by following our tips
Sections called cloves make up a garlic bulb.
·Before planting, split the bulb into individual cloves
·Dig a small hole about 5cm deep in the soil
·Plant garlic in a sunny well drained position
·For best results, plant around our shortest day – June 21st
·Plant each clove in an upright position, make sure the pointed end is at the top
·Plant the cloves in rows about 15cm apart with about 45cm between each row
·Water in dry weather and weed between the rows
·Harvest late December, when leaves turn yellow/brown
·Dry garlic in an airy spot under cover – this is when you can plait your garlic
Keep feeding your rhubarb with plenty of sheep pellets or fertiliser. You don’t need to ‘cut down’ rhubarb for winter; just remove all old and unhealthy stems. Stems should always be gently ‘wrenched’ from the crown and never cut.
If you are not planting a winter crop, then apply some lime and compost to the soil in preparation for spring planting. Then consider sowing a ‘green manure’ for the winter, in order to feed the soil and to suppress weeds. Try our Lupin, Mustard and Grain Mix, which provides nitrogen, carbon, and a clean up of the soil.
Protect your plants from the upcoming frosts – Portstone has good products.
We have Mikroclima frost cloth, in 2m and 4m wide options.This is perfect for your citrus or placing over ground crops.
Or try a cloche (French word for Bell) these bell shaped plastic covers give super protection to seedlings, or plants.
With June comes the shortest day of the year in the Southern Hemisphere. Many say that winter solstice is the best day to begin a new garden. This is also a good month for planning and thinking about crop rotation for the coming spring plantings.
And winter is a good time for all your garden chores.
mulch your compost with pea straw or old carpet to keep it warmer in those cooler months, the decomposition process slows down as winter marches on
return Rhurbarb crowns to the ground and mulch
if you are interested in planting carrots and other root veges, now is a good time to dig the ground over and feed with sheep pellets or any other rotted manure. The soil needs to be well broken up before planting.
if you only have limited space try planting cauliflower, celery, winter lettuce and silverbeet in pots and containers for your sunny balcony or deck area. We also have garden beds available in different choice of sizes that are made from pine and zincalume You'll be surprised how successful growing in these can be.
Plant out your winter flowering annuals - violas, primulas, pansies and polyanthus. All these benefit from adding dried blood to the soil.
Flowering Kale - these plants are grown for their frilly, fancy foliage that looks like flowers. They come from the Brassica family and thrive anywhere a cabbage would, somewhere sunny. Easy to grow. Have a look at them in our front garden. Slug bait is recommended.
Lilies - coming in this month. Lilies are fairly easy to grow and are very popular all over the world. All they require is food, sun, water and support for the taller ones. And the good news is that they are happy in pots as well, so even in the smallest of gardens there's no excuse not to have a lily or two.
Roses - arriving middle of this month. Another of the worlds favourite bloom. Winter is traditionally the best time to plant your roses, although you will find they are available for planting right up until Christmas but to get the variety you want don't leave it too long.
Roses love a site that gets at least six hours sun a day. They really are not too fussy when it comes to soil, although it is a good idea to add some compost for heavy clay soil or very sandy soil.
Plant your rose at the same level as it is in the pot, or if its bare rooted position the bud union so it will be level with the soil surface. Keep it well watered while its new roots are growing.
If you want to fertilise you can incorporate some slow release fertiliser at the bottom of the hole. The hole should be large enough to hold plenty of compost.
We have in store garlic, shallots and elephant garlic. You can start planting your garlic from now on. It will need six months to grow. Some like the tradition of planting on the shortest day and some like to wait longer for the soil to warm up. Either way you need to think carefully about how much room you want to allocate to them as they are in the ground for such a long time. Garlic loves free draining soil in full sun. Dig over your plot, add seaweed and sheep pellets and a little lime. Bury each clove pointing upwards at least 5cm below the surface. Keep them watered if there is no rain. I always keep them well mulched with peastraw, also helps keep weeds away. When the leaves start to brown in summer, stop watering. When there are 6-8 green leaves left it is time for harvesting, otherwise they don't keep as well. Leave them to dry in the sun for a few days, then store them in a cool, dark and dry place. Do not store them in the fridge as they will spout and taste bitter.
Elephant garlic is really not a garlic, its a type of leek. Its easy to grow. It likes fun sun and tastes great when roasted. Give them plenty of space as they grow big! If found they grow the best when you let them flower and let the flower spikes die down. Worth a go.
Plant shallots in a slightly raised soil in July or August. They like to have their "necks" out of the ground, with well rotted manure and mature compost. They also take about six months to mature and like the sun.
Having a greenhouse offers you the chance to grow tender plants such as passionfruit and avocados, or to simply have a longer growing season for your tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers. Whichever you want to do, now is a good time to think about purchasing a greenhouse and having in place by the end of winter. Wintergardenz greenhouses are arguably the best in NZ for the home gardener. Designed and manufactured here in New Zealand, they withstand our strong winds and harsh sun. The polycarbonate option insulates from both the heat of summer and the cold of winter far more effectively than glass, which does away with the need for a shade cloth over the top. The manufacturers of the polycarbonate guarantee their product for 15 years, with a life expectancy of 20 years, so you get plenty of longevity for your money.
Pop into Portstone to see our display models to give you a better idea of how they look and talk to our knowledgeable staff.
We have been an agent for Wintergardenz for many years now, and so we know the product very well. If you order through Portstone, then its delivered here freight free. You can easily assemble one yourself, or we offer an assembly service to do it for you.
July makes the beginning of another gardeners year, and although a few fine days may tempt one to start sowing and planting in earnest, it would be wise to wait until the soil starts to warm up with the increasing sunlight. I would say that it is a very good time to tidy your shed, sharpen your tools and get planning for the coming season.
If your garden is looking a bit sparse, you can always grow some bean sprouts inside a pot in your kitchen for fresh greenery.
For outdoor keep planting bok choy, it is one vegetable that keeps cracking through the winter months. You can use old cans around them to give them a good start and protect from snails. They really are versatile and delicious - that is bok choy, not snails...
Now is the time to prune your roses. Cut any dead wood and soft new growth then spray with liquid copper and oil. Always use clean, sharp secateurs, loppers and pruning saw. Cut the good stems all to the same length. You can spray with copper again just before bud burst.
We have some fabulous new roses in stock - My Mum, My Dad, My Grandma, My Sister, My Treasure and many more - my oh my...
We have Paeonies in store now. Plant them in a sheltered position in full or slightly filtered sunlight but with soil kept cool and moist. Mulch and feed with well rotted manure when leaf growth starts, but avoid disturbing the roots. Paeonies do much better in a climate with cold winters, allowing dormancy and initiation of flower buds, lucky us it suits to grow them here. They are fabulous picking flowers that look stunning in a vase on your table.
It is time to plant our strawberries, Choose a sunny, wind protected situation. During the height of summer, when the heat gets going, a little shade may be appreciated. All strawberries do well in containers or raised beds, barrels, vertical beds and hanging baskets. Plant in fertile soil preferably slightly acidic, and must be free draining. They can withstand heavy frost in winter, while dormant, but watch out for late spring frosts, as flower and young fruit can be damaged.
Regular and even watering is vitally important from the time of berry initiation through to harvest. Mulch well.
The strawberries of today are day-neutral varieties that initiate flowers irrespective of the day length and temperature. Generally the strawberry will fruit most heavily in the second year in a cold climate. It is a good idea to replant every 2-3 years.
Herbs in pots can make winter meals more flavoursome and more fun. Place in full sun somewhere thats easy to get to.
Potted colour is an inexpensive and easy way to brighten up your garden, containers and baskets. Polys, prims, pansies, violas and stock all look fabulous this time of the year. Feed them dried blood to keep them flowering.
You can still plant out Garlic, Elephant Garlic and Shallots. With the garlic bulb only plant the fattest, healthiest cloves from around the outside of the bulb. Leave the rest to use in the kitchen.
Asparagus crowns will be in store this month. Free draining soil is required. Enriched with rotted animal manure, compost and seaweed.
We have lily bulbs ready to be planted. They are easy to grow and do well in containers. A great cut flower as well.
Its that time of the year when seed potatoes start to appear in store so you can get a head start by "chitting" them.
Leave the tubers in a warm, dry place, away from direct sunlight. When the sprouts are 1cm long, trim some of the smaller sprouts off and keep 3 or 4 of the stronger growing ones. Remember potatoes are frost tender so watch for Jack Frost in spring.
A good way to protect them is to place frost cloth over them for those cold nights.
When planting out remember potatoes do not like lime as it makes the potatoes go scabby so they grow better in a slightly acidic soil but usually benefit from a feed of superphosphate or a well balanced potato food, as a base dressing and then a side dressing through the growing season.
Daphne Time - July is the time Daphnes start flowering. There are more than 50 species around the world but it is Daphne odora Leucanthe that is the most widely grown. It is the sheer power of the fragrance that is so hard to beat, and especially welcome in the middle of winter. Every garden should have one.
Daphne odora Alba had pure white flowers and the same wonderful fragrance. When not in flower, they are a neat and tidy, compact, evergreen shrub with shiny leaves that look great all year round. Picking flowers for the vase is the best way of pruning the plant and keeping it in shape. It grows to approx 1m high x 1.5 wide.
The Himalayan daphne, D.bholua flowers earlier and for longer with a similar scent. It is a tall shrub, up to 2m but not too wide. It is semi deciduous in sheltered spots or deciduous if its in a cold, exposed site.
Perfume Princess is a new variety of Daphne with bigger flowers and it can withstand a sunnier site than D.odora Leucanthe. The fragrance is different but equally as strong.
Fruit trees and deciduous trees come into the garden centre now. We have a great range of varieties all selected for their suitability in the home garden. Unlike evergreens, deciduous plants offer lots of seasonal change, they drop their leaves once a year and in the case of fruit trees, they have spring blossom and summer fruit. What more could you ask for?
At a time when most things have increased in price, our fruit trees are still only $49.99 with a few small grade ones at just $39.99, great value for money.
To care for your existing fruit trees, prune now, cutting out all dead, diseased and competing branches, and then prune to the shape and size desired. Right after pruning (same day), spray with oil. This helps seal the fresh cuts and prevent fungal diseases getting in. Over the course of winter, spray your trees at least once with copper. This reduces fungal problems later in the year. For stonefruit prone to infection from silverleaf disease, pruning is best left until early spring or in summer after fruiting, or if you must prune in winter do it in the morning of a sunny day. Spray the cuts with oil.
Our rose selection is outstanding, we have some new and recent releases that you will love.
August weather can give you the feeling spring is not far away, blossom begins to appear, the soil is slowing warming up and its perfect to get your new trees and shrubs planted so their roots establish before spring growing.
Even though August is the last month of winter it is often the stormiest. We are likely to have more frosts, so its important to protect new vege seedlings, plenty of pea straw will do the trick.
It's a good time to finish any winter pruning, if you haven't already; fruit and deciduous trees, roses, hydrangeas, hedges and topiaries.
Spray with copper, anything that's susceptible to fungal problems in summer/autumn, particulary roses and fruit trees. Spray them a couple of times before bud burst.
Several Camellia varieties are in flower at the moment, making it a good time to choose for your garden.
The dark green glossy foliage of camellias, rhodos, magnolias and michelias make them a fantastic option for creating the bones or structure of your garden particularly the winter garden when other plants are leafless.
The new seasons Rhododendrons come in so there will be a full selection of colours and sizes to suit all sorts of gardens. They are very easy to grow and provide spectacular colour when in flower. Some are wonderfully fragrant, but these are all whites and creams and the flowers tend to be a little frost tender. However, most rhodos are frost hardy as they are native to the mountains of China and the Himalayas. They range in size from nice low compact plants of around half a metre, up to 3 or 4 meres of bushy tree with gnarly interesting shaped branches. The feeder roots of rhodos are right at the surface so a good mulch over the soil protects the from weed competition and moisture loss. Peastraw and bark chips are a good mulch and pine needles are particularly good as they are acidic which rhodos love.
Currants are great in the home garden as they are delicious, productive, ornamental, have fragrant foliage and are low maintenance. Bushes simply need annual mulching and pruning, and may need to be netted before harvest time to protect the crop from birds.
Like many berries, currants are naturally found in woodlands, in areas of good leafy, well mulched soil with part shade. This makes them very useful in the home garden as they do not need a prime sunny spot, but can be tucked in under fruit trees or in a dryish, shady corners. Having said that they more sun they get the more fruit they produce, just so long as the sun doesn't bake their roots. Red currants are naturally found closer to the equator than black ones so are happier, in sunnier drier conditions.
Currants, particularly the red, are very attractive as an ornamental, deciduous shrub, and should be considered for use at the back of the border. Great also for use as a hedge that will let in winter sun. See if you can find a spot in your garden for a currant or two.
Pumpkin Pie Brownie
It was a great year for Pumpkins, they are everywhere. They are cheap, nutritious so try this yummy recipe for brownie.
1.5 cups (340g) cooked, mashed pumpkin
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup greek yoghurt
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup flour
1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 cup cocoa
2 tsp mixed spice
11/2 tsp powdered ginger
1 tsp powdered cinnamon
1/2 tsp powdered cloves
1/2 tsp cardamon
11/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup dark chocolate melts
Method - preheat oven to 180c. Prepare a lined and greased 20 x 20cm tin.
Mix the first four "wet" ingredients in a large bowl, with either a whisk or electric beater.
In another bowl, mix the rest of the ingredients together with a dry whisk.
Add the dry mix to the wet mix and combine using the whisk or beater
Pour into the tin and bake for 30mins. Test with a skewer at this point, if it comes out clean the brownie is done. If not give it another few minutes but do not over cook it.
Dust with icing sugar when cool.
The 2019 Kings seed catalogue is now in store so it is time to check which seeds you will require for the forthcoming season and maybe try some of their new inclusions such as Tomato Indigo Pear Drops, Watermelon Gold in Gold, Squash Vermicelli, Shiso Purple. We endeavour to place orders fortnightly and Kings are very efficient in despatching them to us.
August is the month for sowing tomato seeds in trays or pots inside. Using a specific seed raising mix and space the seeds 4cm apart and 5mm deep. Water carefully and then cover with glass until the seeds start to germinate. Seedlings need to be potted on once the seed leaves have started to ope up but be careful not to damage the tender seedlings when handling them and do not over water them. Grow on in an average temperature of about 10 degrees celcius and you should have sturdy, dark green plants of within six to eight weeks. Similar instructions apply to cucumbers, chillis, peppers and courgettes.
You need to start with a good seed raising mix, this has the right fertiliser in it for seeds, reasonable quick and not too strong. It is important to use this instead of a potting mix which has a 6 month slow release fertiliser in it, not quick enough for raising seeds. Start with a suitable tray/container with drainage in the bottom, 3/4 fill with mix and firm down evenly, scatter seeds evenly them , try not to clump, then lightly cover with seedmix. Water then place in a warm sunny spot to germinate, keep moist. You can also buy small plastic covered trays to keep seeds moist and warm. As soon as seeds germinate don't let them get too leggy. When old enough to handle "prick" them out into separate punnets to grow on ready for outside planting.
You can purchase jiffy or peat pots that you can put in individual seeds. For single plants or a few seeds for the likes of silverbeets etc that don't have to be separated. The jiffy range comes flat and when wet swell, then you can see where the seeds are placed in the centre, you don't require any mixes with these. Peat pots you fill with seed raising mix, plant the seed, then water well. Keep moist and warm and when seeds germinate you don't have to repot but continue growing and then harden off first before planting outside. Sowing seed to harvesting - a very rewarding process.
Along with chives, parsley must be the most often used garnish. It is well loved and very tasty, and provides us with healthy vitamins A. B1. B2 and C plus chlorophyll (green pigments). Its vitamin C content alone rivals that of oranges. Also high in iron - so it really should be included in a meal every day. It is easy to grow, so to ensure a good crop of tasty parsley leaf for winter and spring its time to get planting. Parsley likes to grow in an area that has sun for about half the day or dappled light. Keep it moist to avoid it getting too hot and stressed. Remember it is best served fresh and raw and use the stalks as well, they have just as much flavour as the leaves. If you have abundance of green leaves make pesto.
Parsley is biennial and a new crop needs to be planted out every year.
Surely must be on of the favourite vege to grow and eat, its great tasting, easy to grow and comes in about 5 varieties to cater for every situation. It can be planted all year round, except in the middle of summer in the hottest parts of the country.
it is a hardy crop that prefers cooler temperatures, otherwise it tends to bolt if too hot and run to flower.
When planting prepare the soil by blending compost and well rotted animal manure. The plants need about 30cm to stretch their wings and fully develop. Keep soil moist. A layer of mulch will help greatly. If a plant becomes tall and a bit floppy or top heavy, carefully ease a few bamboo stakes around the plant for extra support.
Its a good idea, whichever variety you are growing to pick the heads before they start opening up and becoming loose looking, as the flavour diminishes.
Sprouting tips and ideas
Always buy seeds labelled as "seeds for sprouting". This means that only the right varieties are being grown for sprouting and
that they are free from chemicals
- Soak seeds well prior to germinating. All seeds need water to stimulate the growth process, so soak for 20minutes or overnight, depending on seed type
- Place seeds in a cool space (not the fridge) and avoid placing them in full sun. Don't want to fry them.
- Only sprout a few tablespoons of seeds at a time; fresh sprouts are far tastier than old bitter ones.
Remember sprouts are superfood and packed with nutrients and antioxidants so got to be good for you. You only need a jar, a lid with a mesh top and water. Rinse about twice a day and drain, ready to eat - voila!
We have early potatoes in stock in bags of 6, 1kg and 3kg bags. Still time for chitting them (sprouting) before planting out once the frosts are over. Potatoes like well balanced potato food or super phosphate. When planting, if you put fertiliser in the hole don't sit seed directly on the fertiliser or your shoots will get burnt. Place some soil over fertiliser then place the seed spud on soil. When you see the leaves sprouting, you can mound up the soil so the tubers are not exposed to the sun. This is also when you can begin a light water. Nothing tastes better than home grown new potatoes cooked with lashings of butter and parsley sprinkled over.
Asparagus ‘Jersey Giant’ are available now. These one year old crowns will grow and produce very well in the home garden, for years to come. Asparagus are true perennials and can last in an established bed for 20 years for more. Choose a sunny weed free spot, in slightly raised bed for good draining
As these are a perennial crop, care should be taken to ensure planting beds are free of
all weeds. Raised beds tend to give better results, add plenty of compost, animal manure
seaweed and a complete fertiliser. Harvest very sparingly for the first couple of years to aid establishment
of crowns good home variety and should produce good spears.
We have always assumed that we must plant all native plants for our native birds to feed off but its is equally important to plant some exotic plants to give them a wider range of food for them to fossick round. An article in the Commercial Horticultural magazine by a respected plantsman in the North Island, who has an amazing garden that at times has been open to the public, has gone so far as to study and time birds and their eating habits in his garden. He also states birds are not politically correct and his observations are that they regularly feed on the exotic flowers and in the case of Abutilon shrubs he has seen wood pigeon tear off leaves and eat them.
Here is a list of some of the exotics he has in his garden that Tuis, Bellbirds and Wood Pigeons regularly feed on;
Kniphophia, Lachenalia, Leucospermum, Magnolia, Prunus, Tree Lucerne, Telopea, Watsonia.
If you have space for a flowering cherry plant a Prunus campanulata commonly called Taiwan Cherry. These trees seem to be a
favourite of the Tuis, with blossom full of nectar, ideal for a smaller garden.
To help supplement nature we stock a good range of Topflite feeders and feed to give birds added nutrients and protein . Always keep their food stations clean with fresh water, either with or without added nectar so birds stay healthy,