Home' Christchurch Mail : September 5th 2013 Contents 20 CHRISTCHURCH MAIL, SEPTEMBER 5, 2013
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Brace yourself, sap is rising
OWN: If you've
not yet sown
a move on.
This column is adapted from
the e-newsletter Get Growing
from New Zealand Gardener.
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at nzgardener.co.nz, and click
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By VIRGIL EVETTS
Keep Your Guard Up
Spring is rightly called the
cruellest season, because it can
switch from mild to miserably bit-
ter at the drop of a hat. This is
rough on livestock and wildlife,
obviously, but it can take its toll
on gardens too.
Tender seedlings, especially let-
tuces, are vulnerable to gusty
wind, shredding hail, and even --
as I found recently -- heavy rain.
DIY cloches are easy to make and
a great way of protecting seedlings
Bend lengths of chicken wire
around a large post first to create
a uniform gutter shape. For most
seedlings, this only needs to be
about 30cm high.
Cover the wire frame with frost
cloth or recycled bubblewrap and
anchor down at the corners.
Crimp the ends closed, but leave
space for some air flow, as you
don t want to cook your plants
alive. Once seedlings are past the
feeble, floppy stage, the cloche can
Did you see the news about
the whopping price of peppers? In
one Christchurch supermarket,
orange capsicums are selling for
$7.19 each. Our advice? Don t buy
them -- grow them.
If you ve not yet sown capsicum
and chilli seeds, get a move on! My
favourite sweet variety is Cornos ,
with its big, fleshy, sweet fruit.
Like many older cultivars, these
perform much better outdoors
than the boxy supermarket types,
which were bred for hothouses
and tend to sulk out in the open.
Virgil s rule of thumb is to sow
more sweet peppers than you
think you ll need, because some
years are better than others. And
plant fewer hot chillies than you
think you ll need, because unless
you ve got a cast-iron constitution,
it takes an age to get through 500
or more fiery red bullets.
Capsicum and chilli seeds need
constant warmth to germinate --
ideally 18 to 23 degrees Celsius.
Within this range, germination
should occur in 3 to 5 days. Below
18C, it may not occur at all, so use
a heat pad, heated bathroom tiles,
or any other warm spot.
Another tip from Gerard at
Kings Seeds: Capsicums require
heat -- but not light -- to germi-
nate, so sow fresh seed into a
small container, such as a 2-litre
ice cream tub, water thoroughly,
cover the container in plastic
wrap, and put it in your hot water
cupboard. The plastic wrap will
stop moisture escaping, and keep
it nice and humid. Once the seeds
sprout, take the container out,
take the plastic off and expose
your seedlings to the light so they
can green up. This also works for
eggplants and tomatoes.
In areas with variable summers
(some years that can feel like the
whole of New Zealand), grow
sweet peppers in large pots. That
way, you can move the plants
under cover -- either into a tunnel-
house or under the eaves of your
house, or even indoors in a sunny
room, to continue growing at the
end of summer. You could be pick-
ing peppers for a fraction of the
cost this time next year.
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