Home' Christchurch Mail : March 28th 2013 Contents 18 CHRISTCHURCH MAIL, MARCH 28, 2013
Kerbside Collection Dates
This is the Saturday AFTER your normal collection day.
Please tell your neighbours.
To ensure collection, put your wheelie bin out by 6am.
For more information on kerbside collection service contact
the Christchurch City Council:
Phone: 941 8999
If your collection
take place on:
29 March 2013
30 March 2013
checked your drains?
For a fully detailed investigation
contact us on
379 3930 or 021 885 163
Dig and store potatoes
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.
Main crop spuds, such as
the ever-popular Agria,
are ready to dig for win-
ter storage when their leafy tops
have died down completely. By
then the skins will have cured and
hardened, so they'll keep well.
How can you tell?
Test by scraping the tubers
with your fingernail: if the papery
skin comes off easily, like a new
season's Jersey Benne, your spuds
need more curing time in the soil.
Harvest spuds with a large gar-
den fork and push it into the soil
at least 30cm out from the main
stem to reduce the risk of
impaling the tubers.
Eat any accidental stabbing
victims or blemished tubers first
because they won't keep.
Brush off any loose soil and
store in a paper bag or sack in a
dry, dark place, as exposure to the
light turns the tubers green.
If summer's drought has seen
autumn arrive early in your neck
of the woods, start raking up the
first fallen leaves now. Pile them
into your compost heap or make
mountains of leaf mould.
To make leaf mould, just stuff
your fallen leaves into black
garbage bags, puncture a few
holes for ventilation, and if the
leaves are very dry, add a squirt
of water. Tie off the tops of the
bags and bung them behind your
garden shed until late spring or
summer, by which time they
should be nice and crumbly. Dig
into sandy or clay soils to improve
their structure, or lay it on thick
Prune back summer flowering
shrubs that have finished bloom-
ing, and give scruffy herbs and
perennials a haircut.
Want free plants? Now's the
time to save your own seeds from
annual crops and flowers, and
take cuttings from your favourite
roses and shrubs.
Dip the cut ends of your cut-
tings into rooting hormone -- or try
manuka honey -- and poke into
pots of potting mix. Keep moist
and keep your fingers crossed
that, come spring, they'll have
grown roots and be ready to plant
out or grow on.
Sow cover crops. Also known as
green manure crops or living
mulches, cover crops are the best
way to fill any empty beds that
are surplus to your requirements
over winter. By sowing green
crops -- try blue lupins, mustard,
oats, broad beans or phacelia --
you reduce soil erosion in heavy
rain, provide a habitat for ben-
eficial bugs and produce oodles of
nitrogen-rich material to dig into
Sweeten your soil. If you have
acidic soil or you've had problems
with clubroot in your brassicas
this year, dig in dolomite lime
now. Sprinkle it over the soil and
fork it in. Let the soil settle for a
few weeks before planting.
Order seeds to sow. Been wait-
ing impatiently for the drought to
break, so you can crack on with
your winter planting? Indulge in a
little retail therapy and sow in
trays to transplant later on.
THIN WINTER LEEKS
Thin all those leek seedlings
to 4cm to 5cm apart. It's too
late to sow seed now, but
you can still plant punnets of
seedlings from the garden
centre, although they won't
fatten up now until the spring.
Treat leeks -- and other cold-
weather crops such as celeriac
and brassicas -- to a weekly
dose of liquid fertiliser, so
they grow quickly while the
weather's still warm.
START A COMPOST HEAP
Autumn's an excellent time to
start a compost heap to take care
of all those fallen leaves.
The basic rule of composting is
equal quantities of carbon-rich
brown stuff (fallen leaves, twigs,
mulched branches) and nitrogen-
rich green stuff (food scraps, grass
clippings, weeds, vegie plants).
Locate your compost heap in a
sunny corner of your garden, as it
is going to need all the warmth it
can get over the coming months.
Carrots aren't the fastest crop, but
they're definitely worth waiting
for. These vegies can tough it out
in cold soil through winter with-
out bolting to seed, or turning
hollow or woody.
It's worth sowing a few different
types: try fancy purple heirlooms
for wow factor; baby varieties
to add crunch to salads; or
old-timers, like Manchester
Table' for soups and stews.
Like all root crops, carrots
should be sown direct in free-
draining, friable soil that's free of
lumps and bumps.
Don't scatter seed too thickly as
you'll only have to thin the see-
dlings out later. The seeds will
germinate in 14 to 21 days.
Cover the seed trench with a
piece of bent chicken wire to keep
pesky birds and cats off your crop.
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