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Selwyn Times: April 04, 2018

30 Wednesday

30 Wednesday April 4 2018 Latest Christchurch news at www.star.kiwi SELWYN TIMES Gardening Make sure your vegetable garden STAPLE: Kale is a superfood and is easy to grow. • By Rachel Vogan WITH EASTER out of the way, it’s now time to work off that chocolate and get busy in the vegetable patch to ensure you have plenty of fresh produce to sustain and maintain you over the upcoming months. Think salads and slaws, soups and smoothies; tasty nutritious food is at your fingertips. However, before you even consider putting a seedling (or seed) in the ground, make sure you have replenished the soil with some plant food and tucker. The hottest months take the most from the soil, and it is crucial to put back what has been used before you start again with a new lot of plants. So, heap in barrow loads or bags of compost, sheep pellets or vegetable mix, and dig it through before adding any new crops. CAVOLO NERO Meet the upright cabbage sometimes called Tuscan kale or black cabbage. This close cousin of kale is one of the hardiest crops you can grow. For me, this plant comes into its own in autumn and winter for purely ornamental reasons. Growing to over 1m, it not only brings food to the garden but height, too. Happy in most soils, it prefers full sun, and is content in larger patio tubs, buckets and urns. At this time of year, opt for seedlings as seeds will take a while to get going, and watch out for white butterflies; they love the young leaves. One plant can keep producing leaves for over a year, as long as it isn’t allowed to go to seed. CORIANDER Such a super green, this hardy herb adores the cooler months of year – unlike its other pungent heat-loving mates, such as basil, which will be turning up their toes now. Sow seeds now or plant out fresh seedlings. For seeds, this is as simple as scattering some in a pot or in part of the garden. With seedlings, find a sunny spot – in the garden or in a bucket-sized pot – plant and watch it romp away. To avoid plants bolting and going to seed, aim to keep the soil moist, but not too wet or too dry. KALE This is probably the easiest superfood to grow. It thrives in sun and part shade, it grows all year round, and, even better, it is a cut-and-come-again crop, which means you can harvest a few leaves at a time and more leaves will grow. Look for seedlings now (seeds take that much longer) and plant way more than you think you will need. You will find once you start brewing stews and making soups it will be constantly on the menu. Kale happily thrives in pots and tubs too. You can fit two plants in a 10-litre kitchen bucket, so even if you have no garden you have no excuse not to have a few plants. For me, I plant mine in the flower garden, as they are quick to fill up spaces and I like the contrasting colour and texture they provide. LETTUCE Autumn is a great time to plant more lettuce. Look to the leafy types and rosette-like ones, such as ‘Oak Leaf’, ‘Frisby’, ‘Drunken Woman’, ‘Lollo Rossa’ and ‘Lollo Bionda’. Red and green cos are fabulous go-to autumn and winter varieties too, along with my favourite ‘Little Gem’. The heart-forming lettuces do not do as well over the colder months, so avoid these unless you have a greenhouse. LANDSCAPING IN CANTERBURY FOR OVER 30 YEARS 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. WE DO: Decking Paving Driveways Irrigation Fencing Excavation Pizza Ovens Lawns Retaining walls Planter boxes Ponds At Evergreen Landscapes, BUILD IT our staff are specialists in their areas of expertise; we have experts in excavation, paving, building, irrigation, planting, maintenance. 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SELWYN TIMES Latest Christchurch news at www.star.kiwi Wednesday April 4 2018 31 Editorial supplied by www.gardener.kiwi will keep giving As for soil, they enjoy a fertile free-draining soil and full sun is best – although a few of the redleaved types will grow okay in a little shade. They loathe slugs and snails, so be vigilant and lay bait on a regular basis. PAK CHOI This is one crop I am never without. It makes a meal in a matter of minutes and is probably the easiest of the vegetables I grow. Seedlings are available all year round, however seeds germinate fairly quickly too. Allow a trowel space between plants. They sprint along when grown in a rich soil, however they will cope with poor soil. You will find a range of varieties about now. I like ‘Sumo’, which is short and fat, although the red varieties get my tick too, as their dark red foliage is a visual treat. When harvesting I use a sharp knife to cut the head off, leaving 2cm of the stem in the ground. After a few weeks a new set of side ‘chois’ appear and I leave these to mature. How cool is this crop! TURNIP Once considered only as a food crop for livestock, these hardy and easy-to-grow nuggets of goodness are quickly becoming a go-to autumn crop for many foodies. Kings Seeds recommends ‘Snowball’, indicating that this one has first-class white skin and flesh. Turnips are a high source of fibre and vitamin C. Did you know the tops are edible too? They like the same sort of conditions as carrots, parsnips and radish – freedraining, fertile soil and full sun. RADISH These tasty wee treats can be on the menu all year round, especially if you have a greenhouse. Even when the soil temperatures drop outside, these bite-sized crunchy morsels will keep on growing. Sow seeds now, either in the garden or in shallow tubs and bowls, and seedlings will appear within a fortnight. Full sun and a finely-worked soil please. Try to sow the seeds a couple of finger spacings apart, if you can, however it’s not the end of the world if a few more seeds than needed go in. All going well you should be pulling radishes in four to six weeks. BROAD BEANS It pains me every year to write about a crop I like to grow but do not eat. I grow them for my Mum, who loves them, but I also grow them for the bees as the plants flower in late winter and spring when little else is around. The sooner they are in the ground the better; the cool weather stimulates all the flower growth, which results in cropping capacity. They need a spot away from strong winds, as the stalks will be over 1m tall when mature. For something a little different look out for the red flowering ones. They are super pretty and have the same green edible pods as the more run-of-the-mill varieties. ASPARAGUS This is not a misprint; yes, you can get a new crop of asparagus under way now. The quickest way is to lift and divide sections from existing clumps. If you don’t have any, a wee shoulder tap to someone that does will do the trick. Seeds could be sown now too; online catalogues have a good selection. Prepare the soil well by digging in plenty of soft spongy organic matter, like compost or manure. Remember, this crop lasts in your garden for years, so choose a spot where it won’t be in the way and one that has loads of sun. FULL SUN: Cavolo nero is pretty and it’s edible, autumn is a good time to plant. It is happy in most soils. Autumn is a fantastic time of year The temperatures are dropping so get new lawns down, and tend to your existing one as well. Whether you are starting a new lawn from scratch, or giving your existing lawn a spruce up, we have the products you need to get the job done. Come in to our shop and check out all our fantastic lawn products in our display, or have a look online and type “lawn” in the search bar. LET’S GET GardEninG INTELLIGRO OFFERS: ✓ Expert gardening advice ✓ High quality products ✓ South-Hort growing mixes ✓ VIP rewards ✓ Buy in-store and online ✓ 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 261 Manion Road, Weedons Access to Intelligro from Manion Road is now available from both the Weedons Ross Road end, and Curraghs Road entrances. www.igro.co.nz | Phone 03 347 9415