Go Gardening with Ruth

Go Gardening with Ruth

A big thank you to everyone who emailed and phoned to let me know the name of Nana’s wisteria.

It is Indigoferra decorum or Chinese wisteria.

The veges and flowers are leaping ahead. A good shower of rain is worth more than sprinkler or hose water to make plants grow but the wind is a killer. Our courgette is completely flattened and I will have to pull it out. But the cucumbers, strawberries, lettuce, rhubarb, tomatoes and potatoes are all bearing prolifically at present. We dug our early crop of potatoes just before Christmas and got 36 kilos from three bags of seed potatoes planted in October. We have now planted another six bags of Rudolph seed for our winter crop. We had good success with this variety last year so am looking forward to a good harvest in March/April.

Tomato and capsicums are sun lovers and need around 5-6 hours of sun a day. But at the height of summer some afternoon shade is needed. This you can provide by covering with some shade cloth during the middle of the afternoon. If fruit and flowers get too hot they can drop off and spoil your yield.

Regular watering is essential to prevent blossom end rot in tomatoes. This is when the end of the fruit where the flower was, turns black and rots. The main cause is irregular watering. A good soak twice a week is better than small amounts every day.

Continue to plant small batches of salad greens, radish and snow peas throughout February to ensure you have a continued supply.

Our strawberries have been fruiting since the end of September. I left last year’s plants untouched and gave them a good dressing of blood and bone at beginning of September and covered the ground around them with newspapers. They have again rewarded us with huge sweet fruit, enough to share with family and provided us with breakfast every morning.

Now is the time to start planning your winter garden, rotate crops and plant cabbage, cauli, broccoli when your lettuce are finished. Put in a few plants of each at monthly intervals to give a continued supply during winter. But watch out for the white butterfly laying her eggs on your plants. Either cover them with old net curtains or dust with derris dust to keep them safe. We have mulched with old hay here as well and the plants are looking really healthy. Mulching is one of the best ways to suppress weeds and keep moisture in the soil. A good sprinkle of blood and bone or granular slow release fertiliser in the hole with each seedling helps to feed it while it grows. Another tip is to soak the seedlings in liquid fertiliser for an hour or so before planting out into the garden.

Root crops of carrots, parsnip, beetroot, and turnip can go in now as well. Mix radish seed with your carrot seed. The radish will mature much faster than the carrot and as you pull them you are thinning your carrots to allow them the room they need to mature.

Be posititive:

Most people are as happy as they make up their minds to be. —Abraham Lincoln.

February by the moon:

Continue to harvest all month. Remove summer crops that are finishing to make way for winter plantings.

1-7 Sow anything that will grow now including winter greens.

8-9 Prepare ground and maintain existing crops, Do not plant.

10-14 Cultivate and fertilise in preparation to plant.

15-16 Sow root crops: carrot, radish, beetroot, turnip etc

17-21 Prune hedges and fruit trees that have been harvested.

22-23 Sow winter bulbs especially anemones and ranunculus in the flower garden

24-28 Weed but do not plant anything. Continue to water existing seedlings and summer crops.

Courgette salsa

6 cups courgetts chopped. 2 cups onions finely chopped. 1 red, 1 green capsicum finely chopped. 3 tsp salt. 1 small can tomato paste. 4 cups chopped tomatoes. 1 cup white vinegar. ½ cup brown sugar. 1 Tbsp cornflour. 1 tsp mustard powder. 1 tsp crushed garlic. Finely garted zest of 1 lemon. 1 tsp ground cumin. ½ tsp chilli powder.

Put courgettes, onion and capsicums in a glass bowl. Sprinkle with salt and stand overnight.

Drain and combine with rest in a pot and bring to boil, simmer 10 minutes. Reduce heat and gently simmer for 1 hour. Pour into sterilized jars and seal. Great on toasted bruschetta or can be used in sauces with nachos, as a dip or stirred through pasta with parmesan cheese to make a quick meal.

Recipe can be doubled if you have a large amount of courgettes in the garden.