Go Gardening with Ruth



The recipe for winter gardening is maintenance now will reap a beautiful garden in the spring and a continuing harvest though winter and early spring.

If you have mulched over the summer months now is the time to rake it back from stems and trunks to help prevent stem rot during the wet months.

Cover tender trees and crops with a frost cloth, (it is not that costly and is worth the effort), or invest in a cloche to protect more tender vege and flower plants.

I started my tomatoes at the end of September last year and covered with a plastic cloche—they were fruiting in early December.

Garlic is traditionally planted on the winter solstice so plant this month. Most good garden centres and nurseries should have seed bulbs. Only use single fat cloves to plant and use a well fertilised and prepared bed. Never plant in the same spot as last year’s crop. Place cloves 5cm deep and at least 20cm apart. They should sprout within a month and can be harvested after Christmas.

Continue to plant cabbage, cauli, brussel sprouts, etc at 2-3 week intervals to have a good supply during early spring. Plants take 90-120 days to mature so work backwards. Plant now and harvest end of September early October. Snow peas can be planted into sheltered gardens but make sure you have a good frame for them to be tied to. This will help to prevent them being broken off in the wind. To make great stirfry veges also plant bok choy or other Asian greens, they generally mature more quickly than our traditional European greens.

Most suppliers are having ‘specials’ now on spring bulbs. It is almost too late to get them into the ground but I have put some into smaller pots and placed in a warm spot. When they come up I will pop them into gaps in the garden and hopefully they will give a good display.

Do the final prune on fruit trees this month but take care not to cut off the fruiting wood. Just take out any weak shoots and open up the centre of the trees to allow good air flow.

If the frost damages your citrus or other frost tender plants, DO NOT prune off the damaged foliage as this will encourage the plant to grow new shoots and when the next hard frost hits it could be fatal to that plant.

Always use secateurs to snip off fruit from citrus, this protects the tree from damage and disease and the fruit lasts longer in your bowl.

June by the moon:

1-5  Plant out seedlings and sow seeds.

6- 9  Plant root crops and feed all parts of the garden

10-29 This is a rest period in the garden. Cultivate and fertilise in preparation to plant out a bit later. Keep the weeds a bay by had weeding or mulching.

29-31 Plant anything that will survive the colder weather, especially broad beans.

Mix a little foolishness with your serious plans.

It’s lovely to be silly at the right moment.

Cold meat and potato fritters

A great way to use up left over roast or any cold meats.

Cut cold meat into small pieces and put into blender. Pulse until it is like breadcrumbs—do not allow it to turn to a paste. (Pork or chicken hold together the best)

Take an equal measure of cold mashed potatoes. (If you have 1 cup of meat add 1 cup of potatoes)

Garlic to your taste—crushed
1tsp ground cumin

1 or 2 eggs (1 cup = 1 egg)

Salt and pepper

1 cup shredded cabbage

Breadcrumbs made from stale bread (same quantity as meat and potatoes)

A little milk to make soft if needed.

Mix meat, potatoes, garlic and cumin in large bowl. Use your hands to blend well.

Mix in eggs and season, add milk here if you think it is needed.

Fold in shredded cabbage and form into tennis ball sized patties.

Flatten and coat with breadcrumbs.

Heat a little oil in pan and fry until they are golden and crisp.

Serve with coleslaw or a green salad and a sauce.

These can also be rolled into golf ball sized balls, dipped into a batter and deep fried.

Serve these with rice and a chilli sauce.

Pest to watch out for yellow flag iris

Yellow flag iris is native to Europe, Asia and North Africa. It was introduced to New Zealand as an ornamental garden plant, it has since spread to sites throughout New Zealand.

Yellow flag iris forms dense stands that can displace native species and restrict access for recreational activities.
Some infestations are the result of deliberate plantings, but most spread is by prolific seeding or by fragmentation of root rhizomes (horizontal stems that send out roots and shoots).
Its seeds float on the water surface in autumn and early spring and germinate along shorelines when the water recedes.  
It can also invade and displace low lying pasture and is toxic to livestock. The largest established stands grow on both sides of the Waikato River, particularly downstream of Hamilton, but the species is also establishing elsewhere.
It typically inhabits the margins of lakes, rivers or drains.
All landowners/occupiers in the Waikato are responsible for controlling yellow flag iris on their properties and are required to work with Waikato Regional Council in areas where control programmes are in place.
Yellow flag iris is also banned from being sold, propagated, distributed or included in commercial displays.
Plants identified in gardens should be dug out. Ensure all root fragments are removed and disposed of at a refuse transfer station.
Smaller infestations may be controlled by ‘injecting’ glyphosate or metsulfuron herbicide into the rhizome (fleshy root).
'Weed wipe' or spray with glyphosate or metsulfuron plus a penetrant.

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