Flowers in the Garden- Beneficial Blooms

Flowers in the Garden- Beneficial Blooms

Just over a month to go and spring is here. This means more warmth and sunshine on the way. Unfortunately, this means more garden pests too. If you’re trying to garden organically, one way to help with this is to plant certain flowers.

That’s right, a lot of blooms don’t just look good, they also help keep your garden healthy. There are flowers for all sorts of reasons in the garden: encouraging bees, keeping away detrimental bugs and encouraging beneficial bugs.

French Marigolds

French marigolds, with their bright yellows and optimistic oranges, are one of my favourites to plant in my garden. Their gorgeous colour attracts the bees and their strong scent keeps away the bugs we don’t want, such as slugs and leafhoppers.

French marigolds are best planted in clumps of many as opposed to one or two. They are an annual so will die after a year but if you let them self-seed, you can grow them again and again.

Marigold flowers
French Marigolds

Calendula

These gorgeous flowers have many uses. They not only help repel detrimental bugs, the petals are also edible and have antibacterial, anti-fungal and antiseptic properties.

So toss their petals in a salad, make your own medicinal balm or brew a calendula tea. So many uses!

They’re an annual but they self-seed super well so you’ll really just have to plant them once, then watch them multiply effortlessly.

Calendula

Borage

Borage is a bee’s best friend. These pretty and interesting looking flowers are edible and though it’s an annual, it’s a fantastic self-seeder. Once you plant one plant, you’ll never have to plant another again.

Borage is another good pest control plant and helps keep away cabbage worms. It also leaves beneficial trace elements in your soil when it’s planted.

Borage

Lavender

It smells delicious to us but not so much to mosquitoes, moths and fleas and will keep these pests away from you while you’re gardening. The heavily scented purple flowers will attract bees and other pollinators though so lavender is a big asset in the vegetable garden.

Lavender

Nasturtiums

Sweet and peppery nasturtium. Another edible bloom, this rambling flower helps repel white fly and keeps other bugs off your vegetables by acting like a ‘trap crop’, sacrificing itself to save your produce, (a hero plant right there.) Plus, a bonus, the nasturtium seed pods can be pickled and eaten as an alternative to capers!

This is another flower that needs no help with self-seeding.

nasturtium flowers
Nasturtium

Wildflowers: Cosmos, cornflowers, poppies, sweet peas, snapdragons and more 

These beautiful flowers will brighten up your garden and attract loads of bees. You can sprinkle wildflower seeds now and they’ll be ready in summer. 

So when you’re planning your spring garden, don’t just plant vegetables. A flower filled garden is a happier place for both nature and gardener.

What’s your favourite flower?

Happy Gardening!

July in the Garden- To Do List

July in the Garden- To Do List

To sow this month: broad beans, broccoli, cauliflower,peas, snow peas, radish, rocket, onions, lettuce, swedes, turnips, silver beet, carrots

To plant from seedlings this month: asparagus, Chinese cabbages, broccoli, cauliflower, garlic, lettuce, onions

As always, there is still plenty to do in the garden.

If you’re keen on the idea of homegrown fruit, it’s still a great time to get some fruit trees planted. Choose a nice sunny spot and dig a large hole that’s double the size of the tree’s root ball. Once you’ve placed your tree in the ground, fill the hole with the original soil and top it off with a layer of compost. If drainage is an issue, placing stones at the bottom of the hole before filling can help.

Potatoes

It’s getting to that time to plant potatoes. Start chitting them now, to force seed potatoes to sprout. This takes about 4 weeks. Place them in a single layer in a cool light place, but not in any direct sunlight. Once the sprouts have long and strong shoots, keep the strongest 3-4 shoots and rub off the rest. Then they can be planted out. For fail free results, use some certified seed potatoes, such as Tui Certified Seed potatoes as these will ensure a healthy crop

While your potatoes are sprouting, you can use that time to prepare a bed. Add lots of compost and oragnic matter such as well-rotted manure your soil.

When it’s time to plant your potatoes you can add Tui Potato food to give them an added boost. Dig long, deep trenches in your soil and place your potatoes in the trenches, about 20cm apart. Cover them with about 5cm of soil. As the potatoes grow and green leaves pop out through the soil, keep mounding them with soil. This will stabilize the long green potato leaf stalks and stop the potatoes from reaching the light (which would make them turn green and poisonous). 

Strawberries

Plant strawberries now for some early spring treats! Read my strawberry growing post here.

Mulch

Keep on mulching those garden beds. The weather in NZ hasn’t been too kind lately so to stop that rain leaching away all those nutrients in your soil , get that mulch on.

Weeding

A not so fun bit. Use the soft soil to your advantage and get on top of your weeding. There’s that old saying, ‘One year seeding makes seven years weeding.’ So heed the advice! It’ll pay off in the end I promise.

Happy Gardening!

Winter in the Garden- Planting Strawberries

Winter in the Garden- Planting Strawberries

Nearly halfway through winter! Now is a great time to get some strawberries in your garden. Strawberries need a period of cold to ensure they flower and fruit well and planting them early will allow them to establish stronger roots before spring when they can then put their energy into flower production.

Strawberries

Once you plant strawberries, you’ll have them forever. A strawberry plant will produce many runners over its lifetime and these runners will root and become their own individual plants. This means that you will have forever multiplying strawberry plants and your few plants you started with will become many over the years.

As the flowers start coming through in springtime on your little plants, you can remove the little ones if you like as this will push the plant to produce larger flowers in late spring and summer.

After they finish fruiting, strawberries will send out runners. How many of these runners you keep is up to you. Some people choose to snip most runners off to allow the parent strawberry plant to put its energy into growing itself bigger as opposed to all its offspring. I let my runners grow then snip them off the parent plant as soon as they have their own roots, as I want a lot of strawberry plants but don’t want to sap the energy from the parent plant by keeping them attached. If you don’t want heaps of runners, I do suggest you let a couple grow as strawberries do their best fruiting in the first three years so after that you can replace the older plants with a new runner.

Ensuring you have a good soil starting base is key if you want lots of delicious strawberries. Lots of organic materials such as compost, rotted manure, chopped seaweed and leaf mould will help produce a bumper crop. Keep your strawberries well mulched too to retain moisture and nutrients. They’re acid-loving plants, so if you can source some pine needles you can add that into your mulch.

Happy gardening!

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