Gardening with Ruth 21 November 2017

At the end of October we took a week long break in the South Island. What a glorious time of year to visit that part of this beautiful country. We traveled out to Mount Cook and it was as clear as a bell. The camera got a good work out that day!
I was extremely envious of my cousin’s gardens in Oaomaru and Timaru. The winter cold seems to kill of mildew and bugs. The plants were healthy and the flowers seemed to be more vibrant than ours. Roses and spring bulbs were happily blooming and the cherries were fabulous.
However the vege gardens were a bit behind the North Island with seedlings just starting to pop up. The soil is too cold to stat planting before Labour weekend in most places down south. My cousins in Timaru are on a north facing slope and have been able to start their vege garden a bit earlier and it is looking good.
 After we arrived home again, I was inspired to attack the weeds and get my own garden back into shape. We have a good supply of salad greens and the broad beans are bearing well. But the slugs and snails have made short work of the cauliflowers.
I pulled back the miners lettuce form the over hanging edges of our raised garden and there were literally dozens of snails hiding under the lip over hang. They were all sizes and some were setting about multiplying the population. So they all got a short shift! Starlings and thrushes came from all over to have a feast!
   In your patch, sow dwarf beans, sugar snap peas, lettuce, radish, herbs, tomatoes and cucumber for summer salads. Add plenty of compost to your soil and a touch of blood and bone or good general vegetable fertiliser and work in well with a fork. Salad greens planted now will still be OK up until Christmas. Remember to continue planting seedlings every three weeks to keep a steady supply all summer and keep well watered.
Tomatoes need a little extra work but the reward is worth it. Water regularly, preferably in the early morning or evening when the sun is at its lowest in the sky. I give good drenching three times a week, around 2½ litres per plant per watering. It seems to work. Back to cousins; I had one whio grew tomatoes commercially in glasshouses. He said “always water before 11am as the plants do not take up water in the heat of the day.” I have tried to follow his advice and it seems to work.
No matter what variety you choose, add a good tomato specific manure into the soil. Tomatoes love a good rich soil so try a little liquid fertiliser once a month. Stake your plants well with a pyramid style form or a solid straight stake. This is because the central stem is not strong enough to grow upright on its own especially when the fruit is getting heavier as it grows. Break off any laterals as they appear.
Our early crop of potatoes are doing very well and should be ready for Christmas. Hopefully I can tease a few out for our staff Christmas party at the end of the month.
Give the lawn a dose of fertiliser now to encourage growth and to help control weeds and moss. Either a liquid or powdered form is fine. It is now imperative that you spray any onehunga weed in the lawn, before the prickly seed develops. Our grand kids hate walking on parts of out lawn because of the prickles. They seem to come up every year just where we park the cars on the lawn. I am sure the seed comes in on the tyres.
Plant flowers that the bees can feed on. Such as hebes, lavender, marigold, salvia and any flowers with a perfume work well. Bees love blue so try some blue flowering varieties.
November by the moon:
7-8 Plant all crops that produce their edible parts under the ground.
9-14  Last quarter moon phase; cultivate.
15-16 Plant more root crops if you have the room
17-21 Harvest and maintain your garden. Weed, tidy and feed.
22-30 Plant leaf crops and liquid fertilise.

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