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CHRISTCHURCH MAIL, SEPTEMBER 13, 2012
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Plant now for rich pickings ahead
Blueberries are among the
easiest berries to grow. Photo:
By LYNDA HALLINAN
This column is adapted from the
e-newsletter Get Growing from New
Zealand Gardener. To subscribe to Get
Growing (it's free!), visit the NZ
Gardener website at nzgardener.
co.nz, and click on the Get Growing
tab. To subscribe to NZ Gardener visit
mags4gifts.co.nz or call
0800 mags 4 gifts.
Fruitful days to come
1. Plant blueberry bushes.
Blueberries are coming into
bloom, which means the first ber-
ries will soon start developing. (It
also means that if you choose blos-
soming plants at the garden cen-
tre, all going to plan, you'll get
your first small crop of these
antioxidant-rich wonder berries in
a matter of months.)
In the right conditions, blue-
berries are among the easiest ber-
ries to grow, though they do prefer
acidic soil (a pH of about 4.5).
Most gardens have alkaline soil
(pH of around 6.5) so add peat to
the planting hole and mulch with
aged, untreated sawdust around
the base of the bushes. Or grow
your berries in large containers
and use a potting mix designed for
You can also feed with a ferti-
liser for rhododendrons or camel-
lias. There's a variety to suit every
garden from Northland to South-
land. There are three types and
they flower and fruit during dif-
ferent periods so it's important to
plant varieties of the same type
Northern highbush varieties
suit gardens from Waikato south,
because they have high winter
chill requirements and flower in
Varieties include Dixie, Elliot,
Jersey, Bluecrop, Blue Joy and
Southern highbush varieties
are best grown in warmer parts of
the country (Waikato north),
where their late winter flowers
are less likely to be hit by frosts.
they include Island Blue, Mar-
imba, Misty, O'Neal, Petite Blue
and Summer Blue.
Rabbiteye types (named for the
pink blush on the fruit, like a rab-
bit's eye) flower in early spring so
need to be protected from frosts.
But they are far more tolerant
of drought, heat and less-than-
optimal soil conditions than the
Varieties include Centurion,
Powder Blue, Blue Dawn, Blue
Magic, Climax, Southland, Delite
and Tasty Blue. They start ripen-
ing in December.
2. Feed your soil. Vege
gardening is intensive and, if you
only have a small garden and
grow crops year-round, you can
quickly strip the nutrients from
Give an annual pick-me-up with
general garden fertiliser. The dif-
ferent types all contain nitrogen,
phosphorus and potassium (N, P
and K), plus trace elements such
as calcium or magnesium.
Plants need nitrogen to make
chlorophyll (the green pigment
necessary for photosynthesis), so
it's especially important for leafy
crops like lettuce, rocket, cauli-
flower, broccoli, spinach and sil-
Phosphorus is for root growth,
bud development and general
Potassium is a must-have for
fruiting crops like tomatoes, pep-
pers, beans and peas.
Compost is great for condition-
ing soil and adding organic matter
but is not effective as plant food.
Fork in fertilisers, water in well
and let the soil settle for a couple
of weeks before planting.
3. Plant summer bulbs for col-
our in your vege patch.
Gladioli, hippeastrums, dahlias
and fragrant lilies can all go in
Check out the selection at your
4. Sow now: asparagus (sow in
ice cream containers filled
with potting mix), bok choy,
broad beans, eggplant
(indoors), globe artichokes
(in trays), mesclun salad,
peas, peppers (indoors),
silverbeet, spinach and tom-
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