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Selwyn Times: February 28, 2017

20 Tuesday

20 Tuesday February 28 2017 Gardening SELWYN TIMES Diana Noonan tells you how to pick, snap and snip the best produce from your garden this month CAPSICUM Confusion reigns where capsicum ‘colours’ are concerned but the general rule is that capsicums are ready to harvest when they have turned the colour specified for the variety planted. So, if you want the sweetest, fullest-flavoured capsicum you can get your hands on, don’t pick it until it’s the colour of the vegetable on the seed packet you sowed it from or the label of the seedling you popped into the ground. And, yes, a green capsicum can be either an immature capsicum yet to change colour or a fully-mature green capsicum (if that was the colour variety you grew). On its way to being the colour you aimed to grow, the capsicum (unless it’s a strictly green variety) will generally (but not always) change from green to yellow and then to red. One thing that’s not so difficult to get your head around, however, is that the longer a capsicum stays on the plant, the sweeter it will be. Conversely, if you pick it before it’s mature it may even have an almost bitter flavour, or (in the best-case scenario) be almost tasteless. Another guideline for picking at maturity is to go by size (once again, refer to the plant label or seed packet for a guide as not all fruit is the same size on maturity). When choosing a fruit to pick, let colour and size be your main guides but also gloss and weight. Perfectly ripe capsicums have a vivid colour and their skins are glossy and never dull. Dullness indicates over-ripeness and any wrinkles in a dull skin suggest that the flesh of the fruit may even be mushy. Gently weighing the capsicum in your cupped hand to test for readiness also helps determine maturity. If perfectly mature, the capsicum should feel heavy for its size. If you do happen to pick an immature fruit, it is unlikely to mature in storage or even when placed on a sunny window ledge. Of course, any capsicum is a good capsicum where preserving is concerned, and while you may not wish to snap-freeze less-thanperfect fruits, there is no reason Colourful capsicums and beautiful POPULAR: The longer a capsicum stays on a plant, the sweeter it will be. French or ‘dwarf’ beans, as well as their climbing cousins, come in both green and purple. why they cannot be chopped into pickles and relishes, or even stuffed and baked. Perhaps the one exception to the mature harvesting guide is when you want to encourage more flowers to develop. Picking peppers before they are totally mature will encourage more flowers and therefore, eventually, more fruit, so it’s a case of deciding what’s best for your circumstances. With several plants growing, you should be able to have your cake (or in this case, capsicum), and eat it, too. When it comes to actually harvesting capsicums, use scissors and snip so that a stem remains attached to the fruit. Never tug the fruit off or you’ll damage the plant. Green peppers will store (uncut) in the fridge for one to three weeks while uncut coloured peppers will store for one to two weeks. BUSH AND CLIMBING BEANS The most popular summerharvest beans in New Zealand are the green and yellow French dwarf varieties (also known as ‘bush’ or ‘snap’ beans and sometimes to be found in purple) and climbing beans. There are a number of varieties of climbing beans, but they can be generally divided into two categories: climbing French (or ‘snap’) style and scarlet runners (a flatpodded climber bean more suited to cool climates). All bean plants will be encouraged to produce more fruit by regular picking, a practice that also thins out the pods and encourages air circulation (beans are notorious for developing fungal rot). Snap varieties should be picked when the pods are not more than 10cm long (dwarf varieties) or 20cm long (climbing varieties). Autumn Lawn Care As we head into the autumn months we can turn our focus back to the lawn. After the drier months your lawn has no doubt felt the effects of the heat and lack of rain. Autumn is a good time to sow new lawns, and repair existing ones. Here are some tips for the different tasks at hand! Preparing a new lawn You can prepare new lawns now. Ensure you have prepared your ground well, this is your base for a quality lawn so you want to get it right. Intelligro Lawn Construction Mix is ideal for preparing, and then sowing in. It is available by the half cubic metre, and you can collect it from our site or get it delivered.When it comes to choosing your seed, you need to make sure that you are selecting one that is fit for purpose. There are a number of varieties available, so make sure you ask before you purchase! Intelligro stocks Legacy Lawn Seed, which is available in both 1 and 5kg bags. See below for some more information. Fertilise Existing Lawns Striving for a lush green lawn doesn’t come easy. Continuous maintenance is required, fertilising, watering, moving, and removing weeds to name a few. Intelligro Lawn fertiliser, and slow release fertilisers are packed with essential nutrients for growth and development, greening and disease protection. Make sure you fertilise early morning, or late evening and water thoroughly afterward. If you have some patches that need repairing, we have Lawn Mix available in 20L bags too. Now is a good time to do this as well. More about Legacy Lawn Seed Legacy Lawn seed is a very popular seed due to its robust nature. The seed will produce a lush dark green lawn that is very resilient. Here are some other features: 3 Low maintenance 3 Most popular 3 Great wear tolerance 3 Great in dry conditions - drought tolerant 3 Suitable for a variety of soil types Check out our website for more information about lawns! LET’S GET GardEninG INTELLIGRO OFFERS: 3 Expert gardening advice 3 High quality products 3 South-Hort growing mixes 3 VIP rewards 3 Buy in-store and online 3 Handy delivery service For more information, check out our website: www.igro.co.nz or visit our facebook page: www.facebook.com/igro.co.nz 1394 Main South Road, RD7 Weedons www.igro.co.nz | Phone 03 347 9415

SELWYN TIMES Tuesday February 28 2017 21 beans Although there is little need for stringing beans nowadays, picking after the beans are past maturity does mean their skins are more fibrous and less palatable. Always snip the beans off with kitchen scissors or (if you have the finger nails for it!) nip through the stems with a sharp pinch. Scarlet runner beans are a different ‘animal’ altogether. While beans left to mature on the plant can be podded, and the ‘old style’ way of harvesting is to let the beans grow as long as possible and then stew them, gardeners in-the-know will be sure to pick the beans when they are no more than 15-20cm long and when the pods are still flat and tender. Used at this stage, they are every bit as delicious as snap beans, especially when sliced finely (lengthways) and sautéed in butter or blanched and served cooled with a sweet vinaigrette. Picking of any bean plant needs to be regular and frequent (more than once a week in good growing conditions). If you miss any pods and the seeds within develop fully, the beans can always be podded and used that way but be aware that allowing fruit to mature will slow down the plant’s production. Its aim, after all, is not supply you with beans but, rather, to grow fruit, set seed, and then shut up shop for the season! CLIMBERS: All bean plants will be encouraged to produce more fruit by regular picking, Put in a plan to beat the heat MAXIMISE: Dead-head your roses once a week to IT HASN’T been an easy summer in the garden. Exceptionally unsettled weather has occurred in all parts of New Zealand with extremes of heat, wind and rain. Regardless of this, February is still a significant month for harvesting crops and reaping the benefits of your hard work both in the home orchard and vegetable garden. Summer salad vegetables should be at their peak this month. Ensure plants are regularly watered to maintain healthy growth, especially cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce and radishes. Other typical summer veges include beans (climber and dwarf), aubergines, courgettes, beetroot, corn, onions, peppers and pumpkin, and should all be ready to harvest. Remove any plants that have cropped and finished for the season to provide room for winter vegetables (broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbages and cauliflower) which can now be planted to mature in the early winter. Consider saving seed from your favourite summer vegetables, particularly beans and tomatoes. Late season peaches and plums are now maturing, and apples and pears are beginning to ripen, particularly early varieties such as gala. Fruit are now forming on citrus trees (ripening in mid- encourage repeat flowering. winter). Ensure all fruit trees are well mulched to help maintain soil moisture and reduce weed growth. Most strawberry fruiting has now finished, so allow growth to provide runners for next seasons plantings or remove old plants. It’s possible to obtain a second crop on raspberry plants in February, especially if old wood has been removed after the first crop. Continue tying up new season’s growth for next season’s crop. Almost all herbs thrive in the hot sunny summer months. However, a number do flower and go to seed in late-February so remove and replace with fresh new plants. You can also gather leaves for drying which is easy to do. Simply place the leaves in a shallow tray in a dry, sunny, sheltered position. Leave them for about two to three weeks, which should be sufficient time for drying. February provides the peak of display for summer annuals that thrive in the hot summer months, like cosmos, marigolds, petunias, salvias, portulacas and zinnias. Plant ‘potted colour’ to brighten up containers or special parts of the garden. Continue dead-heading plants to help maintain continuous flowering. Keep roses well-watered and apply mulch to keep moisture and nutrients in. 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