As the new season’s growth takes off, gardeners have plenty of jobs demanding attention. Spring certainly puts enthusiasm into a gardener’s step, and although there are plenty of jobs to be done, some are best left until other times of the year.
WEED BEFORE THEY SEEDOnce you’ve gone to the effort of weeding, make sure you cover the exposed soil with a good layer of mulch. If you want to use straw, remember to use pea straw rather than farm straw, which is usually full of grass seeds.
KUMARAMuch like potatoes, kumara need to be sprouted before they can be planted out. To ensure they’re ready for planting out in October, get them under way now. Old council recycling bins are great for this process, or use a 20cm-deep plastic tray. Start the bed with a 10cm layer of freshly decaying horse manure, then add a centimetre of straw and top with a 3cm layer of sand into which the tubers should be gently pushed. Cover the bin or tray with a glass sheet, but ensure you lift it every day or so to let in fresh air. The manure creates heat, so within 4-8 weeks the kumara will have sprouted. Once this occurs, cut off each sprout ready for planting.
PLANT FLOWERSIf you have a kitchen garden, think of ways to attract more pollinators. Adding flowering plants, such as borage, lavender and cleome, or natives, such as manuka and flax, will encourage bees. If you’re planning to use insecticides, first think about the potential effects on your health as well as on the beneficial insects that add to a garden’s productivity and general health.
An easy-care crop with great rewards, asparagus needs long-term commitment because, unlike other crops that can be rotated at different times of the year, the plants stay in the ground from one year to the next. Plant asparagus any time from now until December. This vegetable needs a sunny aspect and free-draining soil with layers of well-prepared compost. If you plant now, next spring you’ll be congratulating yourself on your far-sightedness as you look forward to the first harvest.
START SOWING SEEDAlthough spring weather is unpredictable, it’s easy to get seeds safely under way. Most gardeners still expect cold snaps for the next month or so, but young plants can be protected if you start them off in a small plastic greenhouse or miniature glasshouse made from an old window laid over a simple wooden box. (This is a DIY version of a cold frame.) The window can be lifted or “opened” during the day to provide ventilation, then lowered at night to protect plants against frost. Smallready-made tunnel houses are also available and can be popped over young seedlings to protect them as they grow, but remember to lift off the covering on sunny days to help the plants harden off.
Tips for Spring Gardening - Noted