Taking us to Chelsea in 2007
Gardening Articles for week ending 30th
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Written by Wally Richards.
HAPPY NEW YEAR
Well folks it is about time again to remove all the old 2006 calendars
from their places and put up the new 2007 calendars on the 1st day of
the new year.
There has being a lot of changes over the years and one of those that
I have noticed is the lack of free calendars from firms each year. There
are still a number of places that give away a decent calendar, but many
of us need to go out and purchase what we require, for the year ahead.
Maybe someday someone will invent a electronic screen calendar that hangs
on the wall and changes at midnight at the end of each month. This would
never need replacing as the program could cover months for hundreds of
years into the future. A simple program could give you pictures of your
choice that would change monthly, or even daily. Another program could
give us warnings of events coming up such as friends or families birthdays,
which would be a great help for those of us that sometimes forget. Anyway
a very happy New Year to all you gardeners and may the next few months
provide better weather than what we have had so far this spring/summer.
Our attention has been drawn to global warming in recent months and the
resulting problems that can happen.
If I was told that we were heading towards an ice age I would agree, as
it has been the coolest spring/summer that I can remember in Palmerston
North. Heat loving plants such as passion fruit and rock melons are now
very difficult to grow outside when compared to a few years back. The
melons grow once the weather warms, but tend not to produce well in the
shorter season they have.
Passion fruit vines do well the first summer but tend to flag and fade
the following year.
Gardening methods may have to be changed to grow a number of plants or
we just stop growing some of the more tender types and replace them with
Recently I was talking with my brother Peter Richards who has been involved
for a number of years in contract growing of maize in the Manawatu. The
cooler weather and increased rainfall in the area has reduced the ability
to obtain good crops of maize resulting in many farmers changing to other
more suitable crops. On the east coast the problem is too hot and dry
for maize in many areas.
The Chinese have a saying, ‘Living in interesting times’ which is a good
way of looking at how the weather and world is changing. Still we as gardeners
will fight against the odds and have great gardens for our pleasure. Happy
New Year. Wally Richards
GARDENS AND WATER
In the Manawatu we have had a lot of rain over the last few months which
has been interesting as the gardens have had ample moisture to do well.
One thing I have noticed this spring is a great fruit set on all my fruit
trees and the likely reason is ample rain water from the sky.
Often in the past the trees have flowered well but the trees have shed
a lot of the immature fruit after pollination. I must remember to water
more in the spring while the fruit are forming if there is not sufficient
Rain water is still the best water for our soil and plants, it is live
water, (to use a simple term) carrying organic nitrogen (especially when
lighting is about), and plants respond quickly after a good shower of
Tap water on the other hand, is in comparison, dead water, treated with
chlorine to kill bacteria if it comes from town supply rather than tank
water. The chlorine put in town supply water can harm the beneficial microbes
in the soil and on plants, which makes the plants and soil more prone
to disease attacks.
You can water your gardens during dry spells and never see much more than
slow growth, when a shower of rain comes along the plants respond with
a great show of growth.
You can put filters on your hose taps to remove the chlorine and your
gardens will improve as a result.
One thing that really concerns me is that when there has being a break
of two or three days without rain, how fast the soil dries out. Weeds
in areas not watered; start to die very quickly within 2-3 days of no
rain. This means that water tables are either very low or non existent.
The likely reason for this; is that too many farmers and agriculture areas
are sucking out the ground water to irrigate their land.
Also to add to the problem is the chemical fertilisers that kill off the
soil life and the humus in the soil is non existent. Humus is the buffer
that holds moisture in the soil giving plants ample water for their needs.
So what happens is that it rains, the rain is sucked down into the dry
subsoil and down into the under ground streams to be pumped out some distance
away for irrigation.
Gardens or pastures that lack in a good layer of humus dry out quickly
from evaporation off the surface soil, requiring regular irrigation to
keep the plants or crops alive.
Super phosphate and urea kill off the soil life which builds up the humus
levels through their life cycles, and our plants suffer. The glue that
is created by the soil food web is lost and erosion takes place.
Inert soil does not have the means to build up humus and is easily washed
away with a down pour of rain. Then farmers, whom pour urea and super
phosphate onto their land, to force the grass to grow, then have to irrigate
to keep the nutrient deficient grass or crop alive.
Over time the situation gets worse and worse, stock are unhealthy and
crops lack nutrition value making for a poor food chain. It is about time
farmers, agriculturists and gardeners woke up to this destructive cycle
and stopped their present practice of using chemical fertilisers.
It is relatively simple to achieve by either applying Dicalcic fertilisers
or by using mineral rich rock dust and calcium on their pastures and gardens.
Get those soil food webs growing and thriving with all the zillions of
microbes and beneficial fungi that nature intended. Their dead bodies
make the humus and seeing many only have a short life of 6 hours it does
not take too long before benefits are noticed. Within a few seasons the
soil is full of life with worms and microbes giving us healthy plants
and crops. Stock grazed on this type of land are healthy and do not create
the massive vet bills that many farmers pay for remedies which unhealthy
We all benefit, when our food chain improves, so does our health as we
are finally getting the minerals, vitamins and enzymes that our bodies
need. The planet becomes a healthier place for all living things both
below the soil and above.
It is a very simple formula, dead soil below, unhealthy animals and people
above. Healthy soil below, healthy animals and people above.
Something to think about during the New Year.
Problems ring me at 0800 466 464 (Palmerston North 3570606)
Garden Pages and News at www.gardenews.co.nz
Shar Pei pages at www.sharpei.co.nz
out the Event Calendar. If you want your activity included, just let us
know. Thank you.