Gardening Articles for week ending 11th
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We need to encourage our children and grandchildren
to appreciate Nature by including them in some gardening activities. I
believe that young children have a natural infinity with plants and insects
when they are allowed to explore our gardens. Children learn many things
by mimicking their parents and are often keen at a young age to assist
in various gardening activities. I remember as a toddler spending many
hours in the garden collecting caterpillars off the cabbages and feeding
them to our chooks. I was given my own little spade and wheelbarrow when
I was about three and had a lot of fun moving the weeds my mum removed
from gardens to the compost bin or to feed them to the chooks.
I can still remember how good it felt to be part of Nature back then and
the same feeling pertains today when I work or wander around my gardens.
It was about that time, when I was given
my own little plot of ground to grow plants in. Seeds would be planted
and I would be taught which seedlings were weeds and which were plants.
My own little watering can would nurture the baby plants till maturity.
A great ado would be made when one of my cabbages, silverbeet or lettuces
was harvested for the evening meal. Even though I hated eating silverbeet
back then, I had to enjoy my own grown silverbeet, because I grew it!
It was the fuss that the adults made, that gave me a feeling of
importance and likely kept me gardening for the rest of my life.
Plants that move have a fascination
for children and a great one for this is Mimosa pudica, the Sensitive
Plant, which folds up its leaves when touched. They are easy to grow from
seed, as a pot plant for a windowsill. Nice pink flowers also. As
the plant matures it has thorns on the branches which incidentally are
another attraction for children. (Available from Kings Seeds)
Cacti with their prickles often appeal to young boys and I had a small
collection when young and still keep a few.
Two awesome plants for children to grow
are the super giant sunflowers and pumpkins.
Called ‘My Giant Sunflower’ these extra tall sunflowers will grow up to
5 metres tall.(17 odd feet) Grown in full sun in soil that has excellent
The giant pumpkin is called ‘My Giant Pumpkin’ and these monsters can
weigh over 1000 pounds at maturity. (Half a ton)
Niche seeds have the two giants on
their seed stands in garden centres through out New Zealand.
Each garden centre is running a competition for the tallest sunflower
and the biggest pumpkin with various prizes for the winners. Details can
be obtained from your garden centre.
Designed for children but may also be open to big kids like me. The seed
packets contain information on growing and recording the progress of your
plants. Another interesting aspect is to encourage the children to give
their giant plant a personal name after it is established. Naming the
plant makes the giant more personal and helps the children to have respect
for plants and nature.
If I was going to grow either
of these giants, here is what I would do: In an all-day-sunny area,
I would dig a hole about a spade depth and width, chop up the bottom of
the hole, so the soil is loose, then fill the hole with chook manure to
about two thirds full. (Other manure could be used if chook manure is
not obtainable, but chook is best)
Fill the rest of the hole with a good compost and soil mix, 50/50 making
a small mound about 12cm tall above the filled in hole. Place one seed
in the middle of the mound and wet it down with Magic Botanic Liquid (MBL),
(20 ml of MBL to 1 litre of water.)
Water the mount to keep moist with plain water and then every 2 weeks
with the MBL.
Overseas the biggest record vegetables
have been achieved with products very similar or the same as MBL. Spraying
the foliage of your Giants every 2 weeks with MBL (10 ml to a litre) will
also assist in a bigger healthier plant. After your plants are established
and growing well, give them a drink using Cucumber Booster, once a week.
This is a high nitrogen product that is a combination of sulphate of ammonia
and potassium nitrate, which you diluted in water. Cucumber Booster is
excellent for any plants that enjoys a boost of nitrogen after establishment.
It is used for growing cucumbers, pumpkins, zucchini and gourds.
The MBL and Cucumber Booster can be combined for watering into the soil
near the base of the plant.
Because of the weather patterns we are experiencing, after you plant your
seed, cut off the base of a 2 to3 litre plastic fruit juice bottle and
place this over the mound, with the cap removed. This will give your seed
and seedling its own little glasshouse. This is removed once the seedling
starts to fill the bottle and needs more room. With the Giant Sunflower
a tall strong stake should be put in the ground at seed planting time
on the edge of the mound. This will be needed later to give extra
support to the plant.
Another interesting thing to do is once the sunflower
gets up about a metre tall, plant 3 or 4 climbing bean seeds at the base
of the plant. These will grow up the sunflower and also provide extra
nitrogen for the sunflower. It is a lot of fun plus a great way to get
the children way from the TV and video games, showing them there is more
to life than a screen.
AROUND THE GARDEN
Aphids are likely to be found on your roses at this time and they can
easily be controlled with a safe spray of Key Pyrethrum and Neem Tree
Oil combined. Spray very late in the day just before dusk to obtain the
Stone fruit trees that had the curly leaf disease will now be producing
new leaves free of the problem. The damaged leaves will fall off over
time. You can if you like, spray the newer leaves a couple of times with
Liquid Copper just to be sure, but if the disease has finished for the
season the sprays will not make much difference. A spray of Vaporgard
without the copper would be more effective in allowing the tree’s remaining
leaves to gain more energy from the sun, which is needed to produce a
Codlin Moths will start to be on the wing about now so obtain a pheromone
trap from your garden centre so you can monitor the best time to spray.
A number of gardeners have found that a spray of Neem Tree Oil over the
young apples, applied about 5-7 days after an influx of moths into the
traps, has resulted in only a very small scar on the mature apple, where
the grub took its first and only bite.
Repeat spray 7 days later and then wait for another influx of moths before
Add Raingard or MBL to the spray to assist and extend the control period.
Tomatoes should be doing well if in a sunny, sheltered spot. Only remove
laterals on a sunny day when it is not humid or moist. Spray the wound
immediately with Liquid Copper to prevent disease entering the wound resulting
in the possible loss of the plant. Ensure that the tomato plants are well
supported on stakes during windy times. If you are concerned about blights
spray the plants with Perkfection as a preventative, once a month. The
same applies for your potatoes.
For general health of any plants, especially roses and food crops, a two
weekly spray of MBL and Mycorrcin works wonders. Spray both the soil and
Avoiding the use of chemical sprays and fertilisers is a must for healthy
Had the case of a lady this week that used a common chemical rose spray
on her roses for aphids and found that the roses shed many of their leaves
a few days later. Plants hate poisons as they kill all the beneficial
things in nature.
I have a saying that if you work with Nature, you will have great gardens,
if you try to work against nature, you have chemical warfare.
Happy, Healthy Gardening.
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If you want your activity included, just let us know. Thank you.
BOOK: WALLY’S Down to Earth GARDENING
It is now 23 years since I wrote my first weekly
gardening article back in 1983. Back then it was pen to paper, long hand
with numerous re-writes before the editor received the copy. Once computers
started to become available, I spent $15,000 on a Armstrad IBM compatible
computer and a HP scanner/printer. This made life easier in some ways
but a learning curve to ensure that the PC worked correctly.
Later on when the very popular garden writer,
Nick Scott retired, I took over his syndicated column of newspapers which
meant weekly publication in several papers, nation wide.
During the following years more papers were added to the list and in some
areas of the country I was replaced with local writers. Now days I am
published in up to 30 odd papers either regularly or occasionally each
week. Regular publications have brought a following of gardeners who prefer
my more natural methods of gardening. Many gardeners over the last few
years have asked if I had written a book.
The answer had always been no.
So this last winter having reached 60 years of age, I decided it was time,
and that there would be a book by spring 2006. Once committed it was many
winter days and nights with the heater and the computer, typing out information
from years of experience.
I could have just taken the past article files off
the computer and put them together in a reasonable order and published.
Instead I felt that many would have these articles in scrap books already
so much of the book was written fresh, devoting much more material to
main areas of gardening such as Roses, Lawns, Tomatoes, Weeds, Vegetables
etc. than could be placed in a 1000 word article.
The book has resulted in 340 pages of information, A5 size with soft cover.
There are very few diagrams or pictures, just information.
The book is divided into 5 sections which include some past articles brought
up to date plus information on natural products, soil health, plant health
and our own health.
Not finding a publishing house that was interested in a first book from
myself, it was decided to print and distribute the book as well as write
Thus Wally’s Down To Earth Gardening Guide is now available from some
garden centres or by mail order from 0800 466464 or on the web at www.gardenews.co.nz
Some book shops may stock the book later on as well, but in the meantime
if you are interested ask at your garden centre and if not available,
use the above contact details.
A book review is likely soon from the Gardening Editor or Editor of a
number of the papers that publish my articles each week. The book’s recommended
retail is $27.95.
I have endeavored to make the book a good read as well as supplying lots
of helpful advice.
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.