APRIL ALL ABOUT GARDENING

With Michael Coulter

It’s been a great month so far. Above average.  But so far, we’re 40 sunshine hours behind the average for the year. We haven’t had any extremes of temperatures and no sign of early frosts.  Now is a good time to clean up your gardens before the weather deteriorates.

‘Good news’ – we are allowed to use our sprinklers now. With the restrictions our lawns took a hammering.  Now is the time to give your lawns a jolly good soaking. Then feed them, followed by a further soaking. Autumn is the ideal time to sow new lawns and tidy up the existing ones. Use a good weedkiller to eradicate broadleaf weeds.

Michael said his potatoes had been infected with the potato psyllid. He doubted he would grow potatoes next year unless a resistant variety turns up.

This is the seed saving time of the year. When saving seeds always pick the best. Big, plump garlic cloves saved from last year will continue to produce good crops for the coming year. Same with your beans. The process for tomatoes is simple. Just squish the seed pulp from your best tomatoes, place into a sieve and run under the cold tap to wash the gel-like substance from the seeds. Then tap them out onto a sheet of glass to dry out. Michael said glass was easier than the usual paper towel and the seeds could be scraped off the glass into an envelope, suitably marked and ready for next season.

For your bean seeds leave a few pods to dry on the vine before shelling them for next season.  Michael said when using the best always pick OP’s. OP’s are open pollinates and can be found in seed catalogues from Kings, Oderings etc.  They are a bit more expensive but are worth it. Asked whether supermarket tomatoes would be alright to save seeds from Michael said generally no.

QUESTION TIME

Q;    Is separating tomato seed from the pulp by the fermentation process alright?

A;     On the negative side is the awful smell. Better to wait until fruit is really ripe, wash

the seed  with a gentle flow of water. Place on a sheet of glass and scrape off when

dry.

Q;     Is it worth leaving ‘scarlet runner’ beans in the ground?

A;     Yes. They are one of the few truly perennial edible crops. Let the vines die down

before cutting back to a few inches above the ground and they’ll pop up again next

spring.  Just fertilize and pop some mulch on top.

Q;     When do you plant broad beans?

A;      Tradition says Anzac Day.  Michael prefers the middle of June. I normally plant

mine in pots on the bench and shift outside once established.

Q;     We have a log burner. What do you use wood ash for?

A;      Wood ash is high in potash so you can use it in your garden. It can be a natural

source of potassium and trace elements. Don’t use ash from treated timber.

TIPS

Zucchinis:  Don’t waste it. Cut it up into small cubes, place in plastic bags and freeze.  Can be taken out and used in stir fries and stews in the middle of winter.

Tomatoes: ‘Mortgage Lifter’ heirloom tomato was developed in the early 1930’s by a man called ‘Radiator Charlie’ Byles. He struggled to keep his finances in order in the ‘dustbowl’ during the Great Depression. He cross bred the largest tomatoes he could find in West Virginia and sold the resulting plants for a dollar each. The rest is history. He paid off his mortgage and aptly named the plant ‘Mortgage Broker’. Its sweet  rich taste makes  it a favourite.

Grapefruit: New Zealand grown grapefruit bought after August 1st is always sweetest. Grapefruit bought before then tends to be quite bitter.

 

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