30 Wednesday March 21 2018 Latest Christchurch news at www.star.kiwi SELWYN TIMES Gardening Grow some cool season treats in your If you haven’t already ousted them from the greenhouse, summer plants such as tomatoes, capsicums and cucumbers will soon be ready for the compost. When you do finally give them the heave-ho, a whole new growing space presents itself. So let’s go on a cool-season growing spree says Diana Noonan Mediterranean herbs If there’s one thing that livens up winter dishes, it’s fresh herbs. While the dried variety will do the trick, fresh flavour adds pizzazz to root vegetables and comfort foods such as pizza and soup. Some of the tastiest herbs are those in the Mediterranean category – the ones that prefer a dry, hot climate. Coaxing them into performing over the colder months is almost impossible, especially for the likes of oregano, which is downright deciduous in the coldest parts of the country, so this is where the greenhouse comes into its own. The best part about growing Mediterranean herbs indoors is that even if your undercover summer plants have experienced disease, the soil they grew in won’t bother these herbs. There’s not even the need to replenish spent soil as Mediterranean herbs thrive in poor ground. And if you’re heading away on an autumn or winter holiday, water can wait – thyme, oregano, sage and rosemary won’t thank you for wet feet and will happily wait (within reason) for moisture until you return. Once your greenhouse summer plants have been removed, gather up any dead foliage from the ground, give the greenhouse a good clean down, inside and out, with a window brush or water blaster, and cut back any foliage that has encroached over summer (this will help let in as much light as possible). Finally, loosen the ground to help aerate it. If you’ve potted-up herb cuttings over spring and summer, good for you. If not, head to the garden centre for potted fresh herbs and be sure to buy several of each variety as growth will not be as strong over the colder months as it would be if planting outdoors in spring and summer. If you’re KEEP DRY: Sage is no lover of wet conditions. Bring it in from the rain and grow it in the dry warmth of the greenhouse over the off-season. in regions that experience mild autumns and winters, you can include basils in your purchases but those of you living in colder climes would be best to leave these off the list. Pop your little plants into the soil closer to each other than you would if planting into the garden. Water the soil for the first week after planting to help roots establish, but hold back on the moisture after that. Water only when the ground to a finger’s depth feels dry. Harvest your herbs carefully, snipping a few leaves off each and, while you’re at it, revel in the fragrance of the Mediterranean at a time when the sun can seem very far away. When it comes time to prepare the greenhouse for spring, your indoor herb plants will be easy to remove. Not having put on a lot of root growth, they can be lifted with a trowel and popped straight into the garden or, better still, placed in pretty pots and grown-on ready to give away as Christmas gifts. Winter fragrance Colour and fragrance lifts the spirits like nothing else, especially in winter. The natural way to achieve this is to press an otherwise empty greenhouse into service so that you can fill the house with inexpensive, season-defying homegrown bulbs that bloom in the coldest months. Sheltered from wind and rain and driving sleet, greenhouse-grown bulbs lack all the imperfections we find in those grown outdoors and, better still, you bring them into the house only when they are about to burst into flower. 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SELWYN TIMES Latest Christchurch news at www.star.kiwi Wednesday March 21 2018 31 Editorial supplied by www.gardener.kiwi greenhouse Plant your greenhouse bulbs a little earlier than you would those grown in the garden. Choose colourful pots as these, too, will add colour to your home in winter. Avoid unglazed terracotta pots where possible as these porous containers allow the soil to dry out too quickly. Some of the best pots for greenhouse-grown bulbs are those that have no holes in the base but, instead, have a raised, self-draining platform built into the container. Using these pots means you won’t have to provide a drip tray when they are eventually placed on the window ledge. Choose a quality bulb mix. Homemade compost is an option but, as it is not sterilised, you may introduce disease into the bulbs – something you don’t want to do when you are aiming for perfect blooms to bring indoors. Maximise the space in pots by planting bulbs in two layers – the shoots of the under layer of bulbs will find their own way up to the light and once the bulbs are in flower, the pot will be brimming over with colour. After planting, store the containers of bulbs in a shady spot, such as a garden shed or underneath greenhouse shelves. This helps the bulbs form strong roots before they begin putting their energy into foliage. Once the green shoots are 1–2cm high, move the pots into the light and, if they have been in a shed, transfer them to the greenhouse. Taller plants, such as daffodils and tulips, will soon require staking. Use thin supports for this as they can fit easily down the side of the pots (chopsticks are ideal). If foliage is particularly lanky (as is often the case with freesias) wind thread (black is best as it is unobtrusive) between the supports to help hold up leaves. As soon as buds show, it’s time to bring your flowering bulbs indoors to enjoy the pleasure of watching them open. As the plants are now in the heat of the house, you will need to water them more frequently – but never allow the potting mix to become wet. Tend your treasures carefully to keep them looking their best: snip off yellowing leaves and spent flowers and keep a watchful eye out for overwintering aphids, which may suddenly spring into life in the warmth of your home. If they do make an appearance, treat them with a spray of soapy water (1 teaspoon of hand soap dissolved in a litre of hot water). VERSATILE: (Clockwise from top left) – Rosemary detests wet feet and even mature bushes can be lost over winter. Enjoy the fragrance of its pungent oils by growing a bush or two in the greenhouse; Even though herbs are growing in the greenhouse, they won’t produce as they would if outdoors over summer – so be sure to plant plenty; If you are not concerned with a second year of flowering, bulbs can be grown in the greenhouse in very little soil; Create a pot brimming over with colour by planting a double layer of bulbs; Once the bulbs are planted, keep them in a shady spot until the shoots make an appearance – this encourages strong root development. 20% TO 60% OFF ALL PLANTS* AUTUMN *While stocks last! WEEKDAYS 8:30–5PM MARCH 23 RD –APRIL 13 TH WWW.GREENLINC.CO.NZ Open Easter Monday! Closed Weekends.