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Welcome to New Zealands Plant Portal. Wally Richards Weekly Garden Tips & Advice.

Gardening Articles for week ending 15th DECEMBER 2007
Written by Wally Richards.

Last week with many new gardeners this season starting to grow their own healthy vegetables and fruit we looked at the most simplest way of growing, container plants.
Growing in containers is quick and efficient and requires very little time or effort and can produce quality vegetables and fruit. This can be achieved by both young and elderly and requires little room where the outdoor area is limited.
When you have more space and can have an outdoor garden by digging up some lawn in a sunny spot would be the next step. The problem is that a traditional garden bed for vegetables is not so quick and easy to establish and dependant on the type of soil, maybe a longer term investment.
To achieve a good vegetable garden quickly in any type of soil is to start with a raised garden.
Here is a plan to make this happen; a garden should not be walked on as this compacts the soil and interferes with the soil food web that we are trying to promote for really health giving produce. Thus our garden should be a strip about a metre or so wide so that we can work from either side without having to walk on the garden. The length is determined by your available space and resources. Mark out the area that you are going to use with string lines and corner pegs.
Ideally one long side should be facing towards the north so that the strip will receive as much sun as possible. Now we have to kill off what is growing there which will likely be lawn. If you do not want to use a chemical weed killer such as Roundup then sprinkling sulphate of ammonia over the area (after it has been mowed very short) will do the trick. The sulphate of ammonia is applied dry and left to do its work. While this is happening pop down to a timber supply place and obtain some fencing timber about 15 to 20cm wide and as much as needed to surround the area marked. You will also need some 50x50mm lengths to make pegs that can be driven into the ground to support the timber.
Likely the wood will be tantalised with chemicals which you do not want leaching into your soil and food crops. Cut the timber to make your stakes and surround to fit nicely over your string line and once completed give all the timber a couple of coats of any old acrylic paint you may have to seal the wood.
Ensure that all surfaces of the wood are painted to seal in the chemicals.
An alternative to this would be to use concrete blocks or interlocking retaining wall concrete products or corrugated iron (strips about 15 to 20 cm wide) Now build the frame work for your raised garden over the string line. By this time hopefully the grass and weeds in the bed will have browned off.
Now we will cover the area with compost mixed with some Rapid Lime, Blood and Bone, Dolomite, Gypsum and Sheep Manure pellets. If you have straw, lawn mower clippings, trimmings of plants, newspaper and kitchen scraps these can be placed into the bed first before the compost mix. >>>>>>

Any Problems ring me at 0800 466464 (Palmerston North 3570606)
Email wallyjr@gardenews.co.nz
Web site www.gardenews.co.nz

Garden Pages and News at www.gardenews.co.nz
Shar Pei pages at  www.sharpei.co.nz


The addition of these products will help build up the height of the bed at little cost and provide a rich mix for worms and soil life. Lay several sheets of wet newspaper over the dead grass, then leaves, shrub clippings with kitchen scraps and then grass clippings. Sprinkle garden lime over this before applying
a good layer of clean compost. This will reduce the emergence of weeds and thus your weeding problems. If weeds appear later just pull them out when they are very small and leave them laying on the top of the compost in the hot sun. If they get to be 50mm or taller then cut them off at ground level or just below and leave the foliage laying on the compost.
If you have a long strip, several metres long, you may prefer to fill part of the area as above and over time, treat the rest of the area to the products and compost. This will be less damaging on your pocket for the products purchased and allow for succession plantings of your favourite crops.
Tall growing plants such as corn and tomatoes can be grown at the back of the bed (front of bed is the north facing side) Medium tall plants such as cabbages, dwarf beans and silverbeet can be grown in the middle of the bed and short growing plants such as lettuce, beet root, carrots, parsnips, onions, spring onions and herbs can be grown in the front of the bed. The staging of your crops to potential heights allows for all plants to share the maximum amount of sunlight with minimum shading of each other.
If you want to ensure that your crops have the all the minerals possible then sprinkle Ocean Solids over the bed at the recommended rates and spray the plants two weekly with Magic Botanic Liquid (MBL)
Some plants are best grown directly from seed where others can be obtained from a garden centre as seedlings. Seed sown plants are, beans, peas, corn, onions, spring onions, beetroot, carrots, parsnips, potatoes, yams.
You will get the best results from direct sowing of the above seeds.
There is no reason you cant grow all vegetable plants from seed direct sown where you want them to grow. Alternative is to buy seedlings which is a quicker start.
If you would like to grow pumpkins then plant a couple of plants at the end of the bed and train them to grow over the ground away from the bed as they do take a fair bit of room. Zucchini also takes a big space but by growing in a separate container or later as you start to pick the fruit remove some of the larger outer leaves. Progressively continue to pick fruit and remove leaves to keep it under control.
Another interesting way to grow corn and climbing beans is to plant a double row of corn seed, zigzagged at the back of the bed 150mm apart. When the corn plants are up about 150mm plant a climbing bean seed next to each corn plant. The corn will provide support for the beans which can be
easily trained to climb up the corn stalks.
Watering your vegetables should be done on all days when its is not raining by giving them a light watering to keep the area moist. A problem arises if your water supply has chlorine in it.
Chlorine kills soil life and harms worms which is not of benefit to the health of your plants.
You can overcome the problem by placing a filter on your tap that removes the chlorine.
Alternatively if you can place an open tank a metre or so off the ground with a hose fitted to the tank, fill the tank with tap water and stand till the following evening, then use this water to water the garden. (The open tank to sunlight gets rid of the chlorine and being raised allows gravity to supply the water) Failing both these aspects instead of directing the water onto the soil, turn your chlorinated water hose nozzle to a jet and direct this high up into the air above the garden so water will fall like rain onto your garden. This helps reduce the amount of chlorine in the water especially when the jet of water is exposed to sunlight.
The best time to water is late in the day which suits most people that are working.
The amount of water applied should be sufficient for the plants to have adequate moisture till they are watered again. On the other hand do not water too much as this does more harm than good.
Applications of potash to the soil will help reduce the plant’s need for water.
Over time your garden bed will build up an excellent layer of humus which is the dead bodies of the microbes that live in the soil. This stores carbon and assists in reducing your carbon foot print.
Humus has great water retention properties.


Problems ring me at 0800 466 464 (Palmerston North 3570606)
Web site www.gardenews.co.nz

Garden Pages and News at www.gardenews.co.nz
Shar Pei pages
at www.sharpei.co.nz

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