24 Tuesday February 7 2017 SELWYN TIMES Gardening You can’t beat some beetroot Motoring know AS FAR as crops go, beetroot is a bit of a super hero in my book. It is one of the few vegetables that I can eat raw, boiled, steamed, roasted, pickled or added into a juice. Tasty The leaves also regularly Bites feature in my salads, slaws and sammies. Even better, it happily grows all year round, so I am never without it in the garden. It’s a good-looking vegetable, too; the leaves look attractive no matter what time of year, and you can’t say that of many veges. I call it ‘Mr Versatility’. Want to grow great beets? Rachel Vogan tells what you need to Money WHEN AND WHERE A sunny spot is best, although beetroot will cope with a couple of hours of shade. Soil-wise, all root crops like beetroot, carrot, parsnip, radish and salsify require a loose, open soil (‘friable’ is the technical term), so dig it over until the texture looks like breadcrumbs. If you are planting into containers, use vegetable potting mix. This stuff is great, as it is loose and easy for the roots to wriggle and anchor themselves into. TOP CROP FOR POTS Beetroot grows happily in pots and containers. The trick to getting the best results is to use the best potting mix to start with. As a crop, they take about three months to mature, and the soil needs to have plenty of nutrients for it to perform. Tubs should be 20-30cm deep, and avoid cramming too many plants into the pot – all this will do is force more top growth, and limit the size of the root. SEED VERSUS SEEDLINGS The choice is yours, especially at this time of year. The seeds are a good size and easy to handle in your fingers; sow in rows of finely-cultivated soil about 1cm deep. The seedlings will appear in a few weeks, and once they are finger-length, thin them out to allow 5-10cm between each plant. Seeds can be sown in spring, summer and autumn. Avoid winter sowing as they take a long time to germinate when the ground is cold. Seedlings can be planted out all year round. Look for the smaller seedlings, as these are less likely to have as much root disturbance when you tease them apart. Remember beetroot is a root crop, and most root crops do not handle transplanting that well. Soak the punnets in a bucket of seaweed tonic before planting out, as this will allow the roots to easily tease themselves apart. Using a stick or dibber, poke holes into the ground to allow the entire root to go straight into the soil – avoid curling the roots into smaller holes. GROWING AND HARVESTING Start harvesting by pulling alternate roots, this spreads the harvest, and remaining plants left in the soil have room to get bigger in size. The roots develop slightly above ground level, so avoid covering them with soil if you are cultivating between rows. WHICH ONES TO GROW • ‘Globe’, true to its name, is round, dark-red in colour, and is popular for bottling when small. • ‘Burpees Golden Globe’ is a pretty pale-yellow, goldencoloured beetroot, best eaten when between golf-ball and tennis-ball size. • ‘Baby Beet’ is a small variety with good colour and flavour. It matures quickly and pulling can commence six to seven weeks after sowing. • ‘Monorubra’ has a tapered long root ideal for slicing, and is quick-growing. • ‘Cylindra’, as its name suggests, has a cylindrical shape that makes it excellent for slicing. • ‘Chioggia’, notable for its pretty red and white concentric markings, is a sweet, round beet. Pickle and slice thinly, or eat raw. gardening without guesswork Question: I have just come back from holiday and my veggie plants are a bit of a mess, and so are my strawberries. What should I do to tidy these up? If your veggie plants haven’t dried out Answer: and gone to seed, they should have a fair bit of produce ready now, or will do in the coming days. Keep checking them regularly, as you will want to harvest them as soon as they are ready. Make sure you keep up with the watering, and add some more fertiliser and compost to keep the beds nice and fresh, with a good supply of nutrients for your plant to use. If you have a couple of plants that have gone to seed, these can be removed as they are no good now. Your strawberries will be ripening thick and fast soon (if they haven’t been already). A good tip is to only pick them when you are close to wanting to eat them. This way they are at their best taste-wise, and in freshness. Trim any of the long runners back, and add some strawberry fertiliser to keep the plants in good health. If you have noticed that the soil is looking a bit sad, don’t be afraid to add some more organic compost or potting mix to the existing mix to freshen it up and get a wee bit more out of your plants. The healthier the plant, the better the fruit! for more information, check out our website: www.intelligro.co.nz or visit our facebook page: www.facebook.com/igro.co.nz Thanks to penny for her question WIN! a $50 INTEllIgrO gIfT VOuchEr! Send us your question and BE IN TO WIN! Email to: email@example.com or post your question on our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/igro.co.nz New questions received by Tuesday 14th February. Why should I use fertiliser? Fertiliser helps plants to be able to produce fruit, flowers, and foliage. With vegetables that are “gross feeders” (need a lot of nutrients to make their produce) you will want to make sure they have a good supply of fertiliser through the growing season. It helps to create a healthier plant that gives you a bigger yield and larger produce. 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SELWYN TIMES Tuesday February 7 2017 25 ashion Gift for illustrating the latest trends Gardening Instagram is a treasure-trove of undiscovered talent. Amy Parsons-King talked to fashion illustrator Renuka Malik, of @nukaillustrations, about her love of fashion, technology and design otoring What’s your name and how old are you? My name is Renuka-Maria Malik and I am 23-years-old. I was born in Germany and lived there for the first six years of my life, I then moved to India for two years before residing in Christchurch, New Zealand. (My asty Bites mother is German and my father is Indian. I also speak fluent German). Did you study? If so what? I studied fashion, technology and design straight out of high school, as I’ve wanted to be part of the fashion industry for as long as I can remember. How do you spend your days oney at the moment? I currently work full-time at Plume, surrounded by my favourite New Zealand and international labels. As well as TALENTED: Renuka Malik finds her inspiration from fashion websites and the latest runway looks. illustrating, another huge passion of mine is make-up artistry. I think I enjoy make-up as much as illustrating because, to me, it’s like drawing but on a face. I love anything art-based! How’d you get into fashion illustration? Mum loves to tell the story of how she had to confiscate all pens off me as a toddler, because as soon as I could hold a pen, I used to draw on anything and everything. She then replaced it with a pencil and numerous books with empty pages, which didn’t take me long to fill (apparently). As a tween, I insisted my mother buy me Vogue magazines, she finally agreed as long as I sketched what I saw inside the magazine. I had no qualms. This furthered my love for fashion illustrating. Why’d you decide to start? As I mentioned, I’ve always drawn a lot, especially bodies, faces and clothes. I draw digitally on my iPad with a stylus and have developed an individual style. A wee while ago, a friend suggested I post a couple of my illustrations on Instagram. I’ve had a really good response so far! Are you a self-taught illustrator? Yes! I went to an alternative learning school (Rudolf Steiner) and we were encouraged to paint and draw from a very young age. Do you want a career as a fashion illustrator? If so, how does it work, like are you commissioned by designers to sketch their collections? Ideally, I would love to work as a freelance illustrator and do various jobs for fashion/music magazines, as well as designers and photographers, or anyone to be honest! I love seeing drawing incorporated into photo shoots e.g the latest MissFQ cover is super-cute! Where do you get inspiration for your drawings from? At the moment, most of the illustrations on my page are all of runway/campaign looks that I personally like. I source the majority of my research from Style.com (now Vogue.com). I love looking through the latest shows and I find a lot of new designers that way too! Do you think there’s a market for fashion illustrating? I think there is a market for it as not everyone has the gift of drawing. I once believed that everyone is born with it but turns out that’s not true and, surprisingly, people do come to you because of the skill set you have. I would love to work with anyone in the fashion industry. There are some pretty incredible fashion illustrators around, is there anyone who particularly inspires your work? There are so many amazing fashion illustrators that are very talented and I love viewing other people’s work. I would say that the person who originally inspired me the most is the fabulous and French Garance Doré, I used to, and still do, think her little sketches are so adorable. 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