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Selwyn Times: September 26, 2017

34 Tuesday

34 Tuesday September 26 2017 Latest Christchurch news at www.star.kiwi SELWYN TIMES Gardening Take care of your blueberries and they will thrive Rachel Vogan unearths the tips and tricks of growing blueberries AS A child, I always thought blueberries were some sort of exotic fruit, as I only ever saw references to them on TV programmes such as The Waltons or Little House on the Prairie. Little did I know that they were already being cultivated in New Zealand. It was during my first horticultural apprenticeship that I first learnt about propagating and growing blueberries on a commercial scale. By taking cuttings in late summer, which often coincided with the plants fruiting, meant it was no hardship to collect the cutting material, and I could have a sneaky feed at the same time. As snacks go, blueberries are one of the healthiest and tastiest you can grow yourself, and they thrive throughout the country. Which to grow While most varieties have some level of self-fertility, it is always wise to get into the habit of planting at least two plants. Choose another variety which flowers at the same time to ensure good pollination results, as this will lead to a higher fruit set and therefore a larger total harvest. Blueberries can be classified into three types, which indicate their flowering habits, growth characteristics and which regions they are best suited to, along with fruiting times. Northern highbush – these flower in mid-spring, fruit in December and January, and are suitable for all regions that have cold winters. Look for the varieties Blueberry Muffin, Bluecrop, Dixi, Duke, Elliot, Jersey, Nui, Puru and Reka. Southern highbush – these flower in late winter, then fruit anytime between October and February, and are suited to all areas north of Canterbury. They are ideal for the northern regions where the winters are not so cold, as they do not require as much cold weather to stimulate flower buds. Varieties include Island Blue, Marimba, Misty, O’Neal and Summer Blue. Rabbiteye – these flower in early spring, with fruit appearing from January through until April. These are suitable for most regions that have warm temperatures well into the autumn. In some cold areas where winter arrives early, the fruit may not fully ripen if temperatures cool off early. Varieties include Centurion, Climax, Delite, Powder Blue, Southland, Tiff Blue, Blue Dawn, Blue Magic and Blueberry Burst. Underground – the root department Blueberries have a very shallow root system, and don’t like having their root zone tampered with. This means that mulching is vital to avoid the soil heating up and drying out, especially during the warmer months while the fruit is developing and maturing. It is also worth noting that inconsistent watering leads to dry, sour fruit. The soil needs to be able to hold onto moisture, which is especially important if you want to grow them in pots. Because of this, avoid terracotta pots as the clay is too porous and the sun soaks moisture out of it quicker than with ceramic or plastic alternative. Blueberry Food When it comes to soil, blueberries prefer ground that is sour, rather than sweet. Blueberries are in the same family as rhododendrons, azaleas, pieris and ericas, all of which prefer acidic fertilisers as opposed to sweet ones. So, avoid lime, blood and bone, and nitrogen-based fertilisers, and instead look for acid plant food. Pruning Blueberries have a steady growth rate; you can expect your plant to roughly double in size each season with the right watering, mulching and feeding regime. They are not fussy about pruning either, so do it either before the leaves appear in late winter or spring, or wait until after the fruiting season has finished. In spring, the pretty creamy pink, bell-shaped flowers appear on older season’s wood, often on short, stumpy spurs. Be careful not to prune these off, as it will take another full year’s growth to develop that wood again. Harvesting tips Allow berries to fully ripen on the plants. It can be tempting to pick them as soon as the colour begins to darken, but patience will reward you with more flavoursome berries if you wait. Berries form in clusters (small groups), and ripen at different stages on the cluster, so be careful when picking them, as you don’t want to knock off unripe berries. We design gardens DESIGN IT from a blank canvas and transform outdoor living areas into pleasing, relaxing spaces for the client to enjoy year after year. Our design skills extend also to large lifestyle properties, making the most of the extensive land to fit perfectly with the client's needs. At Evergreen Landscapes, BUILD IT our staff are specialists in their areas of expertise; we have experts in excavation, paving, building, irrigation, planting, maintenance. We offer a professional standard of service with friendly staff who understand the importance of starting and finishing jobs to a very high level. PLANT IT Evergreen Nursery is our large tree and shrub nursery that can supply all your garden needs. If you prefer, we can do the tasks of planting, composting and mulching with our skilled labour teams. We have planted out many reserves, parks, swales and street trees: we have years of experience in quality tree and shrub planting. LANDSCAPING IN CANTERBURY FOR OVER 30 YEARS WE DO: Decking Paving Driveways Irrigation WE HAVE: Tree Nursery Diggers Loaders Tip trucks EVERGREEN LANDSCAPES LTD 60 Ivey Road, Templeton, Christchurch Nursery Enquiries Ph 027 312 4406 Ph: 03 349 2929, Mob: 027 559 2929, E: design@egn.co.nz Open: Mon to Fri, 8:30am - 4:30pm w w w . e g n . c o . n z Fencing Excavation Pizza Ovens Lawns Retaining walls Planter boxes Ponds WE SUPPLY: Design services Trees / shrubs Bark / soil Decorative stone Landscaping from Residential, to Lifestyle, to Commercial Sites IntellIgro SprIng FlIng 2017 Intelligro is excited to again be the principal sponsor for the Spring Fling. We are getting geared up for the event, and have our fingers crossed for a warm and sunny day! The day will offer plenty for everyone, with arts & crafts stalls, garden tours, demonstrations, live music, a silent auction and more! Oh and of course – food and coffee! Whether you are a garden expert or if you’re just starting out, the day will be a great chance for you to watch some demonstrations, get some advice and take a tour around an award-winning garden. Add the date to your diary now! Sunday 8th October 11am-4pm, Broadfield Gardens Come and see our team at the Intelligro tent! We will have information about our products available for you to take away, and our team will be there to talk to you about your garden projects. Tickets are available at Intelligro for $15. Gate sales on the day will be $20. School aged children are free. This event will go ahead, wet of fine. For more information, check out our website: www.igro.co.nz or visit our facebook page: www.facebook.com/igro.co.nz NEW ENTRANCE: 261 Manion Road, Weedons Access to Intelligro from Manion Road is now available from both the Weedons Ross Road end, and Curraghs Road entrances. Manion Road is the new road built between Weedons Ross Road & Jones Rd www.igro.co.nz | Phone 03 347 9415

SELWYN TIMES Latest Christchurch news at www.star.kiwi Tuesday September 26 2017 35 Stay ahead of what needs to be done With spring upon us, Rachel Vogan says here’s what you need to know to stay ahead this month GARDENING IS therapy, and now is the time to get your green prescription locked and loaded for the growing season ahead. The joys, rewards and sense of self-satisfaction provided by a dirty weekend in the garden are numerous – the wait is over, spring is here. Stretch your arms above your head and get ready to launch into action outdoors. In the warmer regions, where the soil is dry enough, start planting out your vegetable patches now, but if you are in a cooler area and the soil still squelches under your boots, give it a few more weeks. Working and planting in the soil when it is wet does more harm that good, so hold off. Roses, roses and more roses As soon as the new growth starts to appear, keep a close eye out for aphids and greenfly, as these little sap-suckers will spoil your blooms overnight by chewing out the petals of the developing buds. A rose spray programme helps prevent DELICATE: Cover up young seedlings during cold snaps. Cold snaps Just because it is spring, it doesn’t mean that Jack Frost has moved on – in the wake of cold, wet periods, frosts can lurk until November in some parts of the country. Young seedlings can be protected from frost with small cloches, plastic covers or by using frost cloth. If it feels like a cold one, tuck your plants up for the night. major issues. New roses are aplenty now in the shops. Fertilise existing roses with rose fertiliser, which is available everywhere from hardware stores and supermarkets to garden centres. Vegetables This month is all about preparation and planting, so if your patch is still too wet, get busy sowing the seeds of all your tender crops like tomatoes, chillies, eggplants, and cucumbers indoors. If soil conditions are right, sow the first rows of carrots, beetroot and radishes. Hardy crops such as spring onions, celery, broccoli, cabbage, bok choy, lettuce, Fruit trees Have your planted out your new-season fruit trees yet? The shops are still brimming with an excellent selection of deciduous trees, berries and currants, and many apples, peaches, nectarines and apricots are now available on dwarf rootstocks. This means the trees do not grow as big as usual, but while the plant may be petite, the fruit remains the same size. If space is at a premium, grow your fruit trees in larger grow bags or wine barrels, the portability making them extra convenient should you need to move them. If you don’t have any room, why not offer to donate one to your local community garden, where you can share the fruits of your crops with other like-minded people. Lawns You will start to see a real flush of growth this month, and as soon as this appears you know it is time to weed and feed your lawn. These combination sprays are available everywhere, and the beauty of them is that they kill the weeds whilst fertilising the lawn. Don’t go overboard – make sure to apply at the recommended spinach and silver beet can all go in by the punnet load. For potatoes, make sure you get them sprouting as soon as possible to ensure you have some to enjoy for the Christmas holidays, and most of all, don’t forget to feed your soil before you plant, your crops will thank you for it. Slugs and snails will be out in force, too, so arm yourself with plenty of bait. TASTY: Add a nectarine tree to your garden. date, and be mindful of the fact that overuse can cause burn-off. Prepare new lawn areas for sowing now by spraying off the area and raking it level, apply lawn fertiliser before sowing and protecting the area afterwards so pets, kids and cars do not accidentally park and mark your new turf. gardening without guesswork Question: Do I need to put weedmat down before I apply my bark? Weedmat will definitely help to reduce Answer: weeding time in the garden, especially if you are only putting a thinner layer of bark on. If you apply a 10cm layer of bark, you don’t really need weedmat, as long as you continue to top it up as it breaks down. If you want the extra security of it, adding weedmat before your 10cm layer of bark will definitely not do any harm. There are a few key things to make sure you do once you have decided to use weedmat. Choose a good quality one. The water still needs to get through, and the soil still needs airflow, and it needs to stop the weeds. When you apply it, make sure that you use pins to secure it. If the weed mat moves, the weeds will come through and make the whole exercise fairly pointless (see bottom right image). Apply the bark straight after you have applied it. Don’t give the weed seeds time to land on top of the weedmat. The more time you spend getting it right from the start, the less time you will spend pulling weeds out and fixing loose weedmat. for more information, check out our website: www.intelligro.co.nz or visit our facebook page: www.facebook.com/igro.co.nz Thanks to Eli for his question. WIN! a $50 INTEllIgrO gIfT VOuchEr! What bark do I choose? Intelligro have a wide range of barks and mulches available. Most often it comes down to a personal preference. We would suggest you come down and have a look at our selection so you can make a decision easier. Send us your question and BE IN TO WIN! Email to: info@igro.co.nz or post your question on our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/igro.co.nz New questions received by Tuesday 3rd October. QualITy prOducTs frOm ThE WEB TO ThE shEd!