Articles for week ending 17th NOVEMBER 2007
by Wally Richards.
With Xmas quickly looming up ones 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
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
plants 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.
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.
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.
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 Wallys
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)
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.
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
Happy Xmas shopping.
ring me at 0800 466464 (Palmerston North 3570606)
Web site www.gardenews.co.nz