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

Gardening Articles for week ending 17th NOVEMBER 2007
Written by Wally Richards.

With Xmas quickly looming up one’s mind turns to sorting out what tokens and gifts we will give to family and friends. Most readers of these columns are gardeners or budding gardeners so we tend to look for suitable gifts that would bring us pleasure and hopefully the same for the recepicant.
For a long time I have firmly believed that it is the thought and effort that goes into a gift that makes it memorable. For instance if you pop down to your local garden centre and pick out a nice container, a feature plant such as a bush rose, a couple of punnets of cascading lobelia or similar and a bag of compost; you have the makings of a gift that you have thought about and made a nice effort to achieve.
When you get your goodies home you simply place some of the compost into the container to right height for planting the specimen plant, ensuring that there will be a gap of about 2-3cm between the top of the mix and the rim of the container. (This allows ease of watering)
You can add about a hand full of clean top soil to the mix at the base of the container which brings to the mix the soil bacteria. After removing the specimen plant from its pot or bag check to see if the roots
have spiraled around the bottom of the old container. The more roots means the longer it has been growing in the old pot. If there is a mass of roots then with a pair of secateurs cut a 2cm slash into the bottom roots in the four cardinal points. This allows for quicker root establishment. If the plant has been for a long time in the old pot it will have a massive root system and be what we call pot bound. If this is the case then you take a cross cut saw and cut off the bottom one quarter of the roots which will remove all those spiral roots. This method is applied to all perennial potted plants every 2-3 years and allows the plant to be repotted back into its original container, with some fresh compost at the base, to replace the area where the roots have been cut off.
Back to our Xmas present, you can place a few sheep manure pellets on top of the compost and soil mix before placing the plant in the container. Sit the plant on the bottom mix and fill the space between the plant’s mix and the side of the container with more compost. It is in this area of back fill that you will plant your lobelia seedlings.
The reason that I have not suggested to use potting mix or shrub and tub mix is because they are inferior to using a good friable compost and a bit of soil mix.
Potting mixes are great for indoor plants where the extra expense is justified, they are also good for seed raising and cutting propagation. For container plants outdoors you want a growing medium that has some guts and a friable compost has animal manure and green waste combined with bark fines or similar. Potting mix is only bark fines or peat moss with some slow release fertiliser added, it dries out too quickly, can be difficult to re-water and lacks goodness that healthy plants need, outdoors.
Once you have your Xmas gift all potted up, place it in a sheltered spot where it only has early morning sun or late afternoon sun. Water to keep moist but do not over water. If you wish to give the plant a real boost so it is looking its best before you give it at Xmas, then once a week water some Matrix Reloaded into the mix. This is a super powerful plant food that is often used for hydroponic growing and as a plant food for pots or gardens. It makes a noticeable difference.
N:P:K is 53.9:11.0:86.8 (g/L) with Ca 43: Mg 10: S 16.8: plus Fe, Mn Cu & B. Powerful stuff used at 10 ml per litre of water, which you stand for 30 minutes and apply every 7 to 14 days when plants are actively growing.
You can grow a number of plants as above for friends and family to show your appreciation of them at the festive time.
A lady gardener I was talking to the other day told me that she purchased a small tree for her young grandson as a gift a few years back. He was told that it was his tree and he helped in the planting of it in her garden. Every time he comes to visits he runs down to see how his tree is and tells all that it is his tree. What a great idea for a young person and this could be extended by giving and planting a fruit tree so not only does the child get to watch the progress of their tree but they will, in years to come, enjoy the fruits as well. We need to get our children and grand children involved in nature and gardening plus this is a simple and interesting way to do so.
Gardening Gift Vouchers are a very acceptable gift for novice and seasoned gardeners alike. Gift Vouchers give the receiver two lots of pleasure, the initial receiving of the voucher and then the pleasure of shopping for a garden product or specimen. As the Gardening Gift vouchers come in several nominations you can slip a $5 or $10 voucher in with a Xmas card as a neat inexpensive gift.
Last Xmas, my book ‘Wally’s Down to Earth Gardening Guide’ proved very popular with a number of gardeners that received a copy as a gift. Copies are available through a number of garden centres as well as Whitcoulls, Paper Plus, Touchwood Books and by Mail Order, at $27.95 it is informative and a good read to boot. (so I am told)
Another gift suggestion that comes to mind is bags of compost, gardeners always need and use compost for planting, mulching and conditioning soil so a few bags dropped off for a family member or friend that loves gardening will always be appreciated.
Another good one for children that would like to give a gift to their young friends is to take them down to your garden centre and let them pick out a few ‘Colour Spots’ (flowering annuals in pots or bags) these can be potted into inexpensive larger plastic pots and gift wrapped for their friends.
The key to giving any gift, is the thought that goes behind the gift.
The one thing that really annoys me is people that give a Xmas present without any thought.
I knew a chap who at Xmas time would buy Xmas hampers for all his staff and the first year these were greatly received in a nice basket with a selection of food and drinks. The following year the same but after a few years the baskets disappeared and polystyrene boxes were used and the same bits plonked in with a bit of tinsel to make them look like Xmas.
The hampers became a bit of a joke amongst the staff and the initial goodwill was lost with thoughtless repetition.
You have ample time to think about what to give family and friends this Xmas, think of what they need and want then work to fill those aspects.
One final suggestion, why not drop off a bag of Dog or Cat Biscuits to your local SPCA to assist with their looking after all those unwanted pets at this time of the year.
There is great pleasure in giving.
Happy Xmas shopping.

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

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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