What to do in the garden this week – Stuff.co.nz


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ROBERT GUYTON/GET GROWING/StuffDo foxes really wear gloves? A child-friendly garden needs prickle-free grass and plants that stir the imagination.Is your garden child-friendly? Binge watching of Escape to the Country and garden makeover programmes has given me the impression that the only thing parents and grandparents think is needed to make a garden child-friendly is a big lawn. A lawn does give scope for running around and ball games but do make sure it’s prickle-free. Now is the time to tackle Onehunga weed. Use a selective spray (Kiwicare’s Lawnpro Prickle and Hydrocotyle or Yates Prickle Weedkiller) to knock out the prickles without hurting the grass. Do leave some daisies – what’s a lawn without the wherewithal to make a daisy chain? But a lawn is not essential – you can always go to a park for wide open grassy spaces. To me, it is more important to have lots to see and do, places to explore, nooks to hide in, wildlife to observe and things to climb and interact with. Safety is important – fence off open water, busy roads and steep drops for instance – and so is supervision, but children do need the chance to learn what they’re physically capable of and their imagination has no limits. Purpose-built climbing frames and playhouses are fun but take up a lot of room and are outgrown eventually. A couple of cable reels and a few planks could be anything from a seesaw to a pirate ship and can be moved out of the way when the lawn is needed for another activity. Include places to make a mess – a sandpit, mud kitchen or just a bit of dirt and a bucket of water. A little wilderness is a good hunting ground for insects, lizards and birds. What about a willow tunnel that a toddler can run through but is too small for adults? Or a secret cubby hole inside a bean tepee? Paths that double as racetracks for scooters and pedal cars? A fairy corner or a vege patch of their very own? Think about scents, textures and intriguing plants – lamb’s ears to stroke, rosemary and lavender to sniff, water droplets on nasturtium or ladies mantle leaves, foxgloves and snapdragon for little fingers to poke, gigantic sunflowers to measure and tiny violets to pick. What else does a child-friendly garden need? Which plants would you grow for children’s enjoyment? Email [email protected] READ MORE: Book extract: The Joy of Gardening 20 top value vegetables to grow in your backyard 5 herbs to grow for aromatic seeds RACHEL OLDHAM/GET GROWING/StuffNetting protects beans from birds and cats but remember to remove it before the bean tendrils get tangled in the mesh. What to sow and plant in November You can sow dwarf and climbing beans (and peas down south), root crops including beetroot, radishes, carrots, swedes and turnips; leafy greens such as bok choy, lettuces, spring onions and spinach; cucurbits such as pumpkins, cucumbers, rockmelons, scallopini and courgettes. Apart perhaps from in the very coldest most inland places, it’s finally warm enough to sow sweetcorn and plant watermelon seedlings. You can plant seedlings of tomatoes, eggplants, peppers and chillies (and possibly even sneak in a last few cherry tomatoes from seed) as well as onions (and leeks, broccoli and cauliflower seedlings down south too). Pop in main crop potatoes, yams and get kūmara runners in the ground.Sally Tagg/NZ GardenerNip out the tips of basil to stop it flowering and prolong picking. It’s time to grow basil Heat-loving basil needs temperatures of around 20°C to germinate. Sow seed in trays and transplant when the seedlings are at least 5cm high. Or pick up seedlings at the garden centre. I love pesto so I’ve planted large-leaved ‘Sweet Genovese’. I start harvesting by pinching out the top leaves of each stem as soon as the plants are established. This encourages bushy plants, extra leaves and delays flowering. Don’t pick below the bottom set of leaves on a stem as it won’t resprout. I grow other basil varieties in a more decorative way and don’t usually bother picking them. Small leafed ‘Greek Mini’ is very cute in containers and makes a very pretty border to a vege bed. Purple-leafed ‘Red Rubin’, purple-flowered ‘Thai’ and ‘Cinnamon’ basil and white-flowered ‘Lemon’ basil are planted alongside dahlias in the flower border. I let these plants ramp away and don’t deadhead them. They flower prolifically and are magnets for bees. Brushing against the leaves releases a wonderful scent.BARBARA SMITH / NZ GARDENER/StuffA snail-topped stake supports dill stems. Grow dill from seed Four years ago while trying to take a picture of stripping dill seeds from the stalks I inadvertently rediscovered the art of winnowing – the method used to separate grain from chaff by tossing it into the air. Ideally, the wind blows the light chaff away and the heavier seeds drop into a basket. In my case, the wind was a bit too strong, and ever since random dill seedlings pop up in the flower garden and the gravel paths. I don’t mind because I often use the leaves as garnish (delicious with salmon and cream cheese) and the seeds in homemade crackers. Dill is really easy to grow. It likes full sun, good drainage, rich soil and regular watering. If it dries out in summer it will bolt to seed, but that’s not really a problem as the flowers attract beneficial insects and the seeds are as useful as the feathery leaves. Sow seed direct or raise in peat pots and plant out when very small as the delicate tap root doesn’t like disturbance. Plants mature in 6-8 weeks and successive sowings from spring to autumn will give you a steady supply. Dill grows to 80cm tall. Stake or grow in a clump of several plants so it’s less susceptible to wind damage. Several varieties of dill seeds are available online from Kings Seeds.CHERIE PALMER/StuffCatch flies now to prevent a population boom in summer. Pest population patrol Warmer weather means garden pests are getting more active and starting to breed. Blowflies, mosquitoes, aphids, vege beetles and their buzzing, creeping and crawling brethren have many generations each season, so populations build rapidly. If you dispose of the first early invaders you spot you won’t have to live with so many of their offspring later in summer. A female blowfly can lay around 2,000 eggs in a lifetime. Dealing to a few flies in early summer will cut down the numbers later. Use a commercial trap and bait or make your own. Cut across a plastic bottle about one third of the way down from the top. Put bait in the bottom section. I use a mixture of yeast, a little sugar and some warm water which builds up a stink after a couple of days. Or use a small piece of meat, rotting fruit or cat food. Invert the top. Add a wire handle and hang where flies tend to congregate – usually in sunny, sheltered spots – but where the smell won’t bother you or the neighbours. The flies can get in the hole at the top but can’t fly back out. They eventually die and fall into the liquid. The water level needs topping up now and then. Empty traps when they start to fill up. Tackle fluffy bums (juvenile passionvine hoppers), when newly hatched as the adults just fly out of range. Try a pyrethrum-based spray or an organic spraying oil. Hunt for green vege bugs early in the morning before they warm up in the sun. Knock the plant and they’ll fall to the ground where you can crush them. Plant cleomes and sunflowers to attract them away from your beans, tomatoes, corn and eggplants. Clean up potential breeding sites too. Mosquitoes lay eggs in still water and slaters, slugs and snails hang out in wood heaps and cool, shady corners. Here’s how to avoid mosquitoes ruining summer evenings in the garden, how to stop a rat invasion and bird friendly ways to beat snails and slugs.SUPPLIEDWeeding, composting, hoeing, sowing and transplanting an entire summer vegetable garden in a weekend. Weed, weed and weed some more! It’s warm and there‘s still lots of spring rain in the soil, so weeds grow like mad this month! But they are easier to pull out now than they will be when they get more established (or worse, flower and set seed!) so remove as many as you can. Remember, every weed competes with the plants you want for light, water and nutrients. Usually, if I conduct one major weeding operation in early spring it keeps the weeds at bay until summer, when it’s too dry for these opportunistic interlopers to cause too much trouble. But this year it’s been so wet they just keep coming. Get on top of weeds now before they have a chance to (a) flower and set seed and (b) compete with your prized plants for sunlight and soil nutrition. You can win the war on weeds if, every time you pull a weed in, you put a desirable plant in its place. If you’re not ready to replant after weeding, put down a thick layer of mulch to stop weed seeds germinating.123rfCovering young capsicum plants with straw mulch to protect from drying out quickly ant to control weed in the garden. Using mulch for weed control, water retention, to keep roots warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Gardening by the moon Do odd jobs around the garden on November 5 and 6. The fertile period starts on November 7. It's sowing time for all above-ground-producing plants. Sow out of doors: lettuce, cauliflower and cabbage, spinach and sweetcorn. Transplant tomatoes, courgettes, chillies and eggplants. Gardening by the maramataka We are coming to the end of kōanga (spring), the digging season, so we should be reading the tohu to determine when to plant the last key crops which should all be in before summer. Tohu or signs differ between regions. In the northern half of the Te Ika a Maui (North Island) old-time growers would read the kūmarahou (Pomaderris kumeraho) to determine when to plant kūmara tipū. When kūmarahou start flowering, plant early kūmara (September in the very north), and as flowering finishes (November) the last of the kūmara should be planted. Further south new growth on tī kōuka or early flowering of shrubs (rather than trees) such as ngutu-kākā (kākā beak or Clianthus maximus) also provide a lead for planting food crops. The new moon (Whiro) is on the 5th with the Rākaunui season (full moon) beginning on the 19th. The 7th and 8th suit the planting of most crops, especially if early summer flowering plants have begun to show, and the third week from the 19th is also a good planting period. Kanga (Māori corn), kamokamo and hue (gourds) need to be directly sown into raised mounds for best establishment and can follow the kūmara timing. Taewa are often the last of the kōanga crops as they are the most variable – but all these crops need to be in with time to emerge prior to the summer season which is close by. Read more about how the maramataka can tell us when to sow and grow. Dr Nick Roskruge
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