Container Gardening- Grow Produce Anywhere

Container Gardening- Grow Produce Anywhere

Having your own little vegetable patch can seem unimaginable if you have no grass to place it on. Container gardening means you can have your own homegrown paradise anywhere you like.

Well, as long as it gets sun. That’s still a must. Luckily you can always move the containers around to the sunniest spots!

Container Gardening

Tui garden products have a great range of soils and fertilisers perfect for container gardening. Today I used a mix of Tui Pot Power, Tui Vegetable mix and their new, handy pack of mini sheep pellets.

Container Gardening

Unless you have a mass amount of containers, you’ll need to consider where you plant your vegetables. You want to plant them in a way to maximise the space.

For this particular deck, there was a trellis at the back. I’ve planted purple climbing beans at the edge of a few of the pots to utilise the trellis, as the beans will climb up it.  Broccoli was planted alongside the beans. Broccoli uses a lot of nitrogen to grow, whilst the beans fix the nitrogen in the soil. When the beans are finished, the old plants can be chopped up and worked back into the soil to return the nitrogen.

Container Gardening

Capsicum and tomatoes were planted alongside basil seedlings. Basil can naturally help deter bugs and it is said to improve the flavour of the tomatoes.

Lettuce, coriander, silverbeet, red onion and strawberries were all planted in the remaining containers. Lettuce seeds were sown alongside the lettuce seedlings to ensure there’s a continuous supply.

Last but not least, I planted some french marigolds to attract those bees for when the tomatoes and capsicums blossom.

Container Gardening

The soil can be topped up once crops have been harvested. Add some more vegetable mix or compost, a handful of sheep pellets and replant something in it straight away.

Do practice crop rotation though, don’t plant the same family of vegetables in the same pot two seasons in a row. Otherwise, there’s an extra risk of plant disease or depleted soil.

Happy gardening!

5 Home Made Liquid Fertilisers Your Plants Will Love 

5 Home Made Liquid Fertilisers Your Plants Will Love 

As spring gets going, your vegetables will amp up their growth. A dose of liquid fertiliser can do wonders to ensure healthy growth. Unlike granular fertilisers, liquid fertilisers get the nutrients to your plants quickly, so you can feed them when they need it most.

When using a solid fertiliser in the garden it can be easy to add too much, which in turn can be detrimental to your plants. Too much nitrogen added to beetroot, for example, will lead to big green tops and not much root.  A liquid fertiliser, on the other hand, makes it easy to give plants the boost they need, in a controlled dose.

You don’t have to spend money to get a nutrient-packed drink for your vegetables, I bet you have what you need at home for at least one of these recipes below.

5 Liquid Fertilisers your plants will love

Manure tea, compost tea, seaweed tea… if you add the word tea at the end it almost sounds appealing….

Manure Tea

An excellent source of nitrogen. You’ll need 1 part well-aged manure and 5 parts, a large bucket (with a lid) and a sack/pillowcase.

Chicken, horse, sheep, it doesn’t really matter what manure you use for this tea as long as it is well-aged. Shovel the manure into the sack or pillow case and place in the bucket. Top with water and cover (it’s like a giant tea bag!) Let it sit for 1-2 weeks. When you’re ready to use it, dilute it to the ratio of 1:16.

You can empty the manure filled sack into your compost afterwards.

Garlic fattens up during September and October. A liquid fertiliser high in nitrogen, such as manure tea will ensure nice fat bulbs.
Compost Tea

Same ratio as above, 1 parts organic matter to 5 parts water. This time you’ll be using some homemade compost instead of manure.

Homemade compost is known as black gold in the gardening world and compost tea is the golden liquid!

In a bucket, shovel 1 part homemade compost and top with 5 parts water. Stir and let it sit for 4 days. When ready to use, strain it through some sort of cloth (e.g an old t-shirt).  Use it immediately and dilute to the ratio of 1:10.

Hungry potatoes love a drink of compost tea.
Seaweed Liquid Fertiliser

Living in New Zealand means this one is an easy one to make- there’s nearly always a beach close by! Seaweed is packed full of goodies for your plants including potassium, nitrogen, phosphate and magnesium. It also helps combat transplant shock when moving plants and seedlings.

We are sticking with the 1/5 part ratio again. Scour your local beach for the seaweed, you won’t need a huge amount. Rinse the seaweed well first to remove excess salt, then place in bucket, cover with water and let it sit. The seaweed needs to decompose for this fertiliser so you can let it sit for about 8 weeks in a dark place, away from your house. This one can get a bit stinky! Dilute to a ratio of 1:2.

Banana Peel Liquid Fertiliser(s)

Banana peel is such a treat for plants, especially roses. They’re packed with potassium, phosphorus and calcium. You can make a banana peel fertiliser in a few different ways.

  1. Banana peel tea: Soak 2-3 banana peels in 600ml water for a few days, the minerals will leach into the water and you can use the water as it is for your plants, no need to dilute. Give the soaked peels to your worms or put in the compost
  2. Banana peel smoothie: Blitz your peels up with a cup of water to make a banana peel slurry! Pour this on the base of your roses, they’ll love you for it.
  3. Banana smoothie: Spoiled, old bananas can be blitzed up too into liquid and poured around your plants. Try it in your vegetable garden!
Weedy Tea

This has to be the easiest one to source and make!

You can use all sorts of weeds from around your garden for this, especially those with tap roots such as dock. comfrey, dandelions or wild fennel. The long tap roots means the plant can absorb more nutrients which are passed into the leaves. These leaves can be put in the weed tea and all the nutrients will leach out into the water, ready to be poured back into the garden!

Stick with the 1/5 ratio (1 part weeds, 5 parts water) and fill a bucket with all your sourced weeds. Cover with water and put a lid on it. Let it steep for about two weeks. Dilute it to a ratio of 1:10 and use it anywhere in the garden! Once the weeds have decomposed in the bucket, chuck them in your compost and start again.

Photo credit: Kris Coppieters from Flickr

Happy gardening!

Fruit Tree Grafting- Step by Step

Fruit Tree Grafting- Step by Step

I went to a fantastic grafting workshop in the weekend.  I love all gardening workshops. Even if you think you know it all, going to a workshop and hearing someone else’s thoughts and opinions can be really helpful. Hands on workshops are also the best way to learn since you try your own hand at it at the same time as you’re being taught. I thought I would give a step by step run down of two grafting techniques and encourage you to go find some sticks to practice on!

Rootstock and Scion Wood

Before I go into detail about graft types, I will quickly explain the two sorts of wood you need.

The rootstock is plant with an already established root system. It’s usually just a stump. The rootstock is what determines things like how big the fruit tree will grow, what conditions it can grow in and the fruit size.

The scion wood is a piece of wood from the tree that you would like to propagate and grow. The scion wood can be grafted onto the rootstock via many different methods. The rootstock and scion wood must be compatible for the graft to take and a good way to know compatibility is to graft within the same genus of fruit. (e.g plums, nectarines and peaches are the ‘Prunus’ genus so are all compatible with each other. An apple is from the ‘Malus’ genus so would not be compatible.)

The scion wood must always be dormant (no burst buds!) It is collected in the winter and should be stored in a fridge, wrapped in wet newspaper, until you use it.

Whip and tongue graft

This is a dependable and solid graft with a bit of careful skill required. When grafting it is essential that the cambium layer of both the rootstock and the scion wood match and grow together. To ensure a good match it is important you cut smoothly and cleanly using a sharp grafting knife like this one.

Grafting Knife

Take your rootstock and make a long slanting cut across an internode (the space between the buds). Either place the rootstock on a chopping board and press down hard with a grafting knife, or hold the rootstock away from you and with one hard stroke, slice, off an angled slice. Try get the longest possible cut and as smooth as possible to create an oval face.

Find scion wood of a similar size in diameter and do the same thing.

They should match as closely as possible when held together.

There’s the whip graft, now for the tongue.

Keep your thumbs nice and close together for better control with the knife. About 1/3 of the way down from your cut, slice down into the face. Do this slowly and carefully as this can be quite tricky and you don’t want to press down too hard and cut yourself!

Do this in both the rootstock and the scion. Those cuts create the ‘tongue’ and this is what will help hold the rootstock and scion together. Carefully match them together.

Now the graft needs to be securely tied with grafting tape. Grafting tape stretches as the tree grows and keeps out water and diseases. This step is just as important as a clean cut! Cut the top of your scion wood off so that it has only 3 buds remaining. Plant your finished rootstock, preferably in the open ground.

Chip budding

This grafting technique is one that can be done all throughout spring and even summer. It involves grafting only a little bud of the scion wood onto rootstock. This means you get a lot more use out of one piece of scion wood.

On your rootstock, in the internode. Make a little cut, about 3 mm deep.  1cm above that, slice down to meet the little slit you previously made.

On your scion wood, you want to do the same thing except on the bud.

Once you have sliced the bud off, keep it sitting on your grafting knife to avoid touching it with your fingers and contaminating it. Carefully place it onto the rootstock, matching the bud with the cut you made before.

When wrapping this graft, wrap the bottom of the bud first and only cover the tip of the bud with one layer of tape. Plant your rootstock, preferably in the open ground.

The above two grafts were prepared on a bare rooted rootstock. This is a lot easier than grafting on a rootstock in the ground as you can move it around when cutting.

Machine Grafts

If cutting with a grafting knife isn’t your thing, these grafting shears do the hard work for you. 

  1. The scion wood and rootstock match easily with these grafting shears that cut the wood in a V , U or Ω cut. You can buy this tool on trademe.

Once you have planted your rootstock, keep it well watered. If your graft is successful, you should be able to see the buds on the scion wood grow and swell within a couple of months.

Happy grafting!

Spring in the Garden- September to do List

Spring in the Garden- September to do List

Spring is finally here! Spring blossoms are everywhere and all my daffodils have flowered. I am just waiting on my tulips.

Though it’s a very exciting thought to start planting everything in the garden RIGHT NOW! Try hold off a little longer with planting any summer crops as New Zealand spring can be very unpredictable and a rogue frost could ruin all your hard work. Now is a good time to really ensure your soil is in top notch condition and that your garden is all cleaned up for when it is planting time.

Sow from seed this month:Beetroot, broccoli, radishes, coriander, celery, carrots, silver beet, spring onions

Sow from seedlings this month: broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, cabbage, potatoes, silverbeet, spinach

Prepare your soil

If your soil in general is friable and dark looking, you can just a little compost and sheep pellets to it to replenish some of the nutrients lost in winter. If your soil is looking a bit lack luster, adding some vegetable Mix as well compost and sheep pellets will give it the boost it needs to grow a bumper crop.

Spring Clean around the garden

Pick up any dead leaves or plant debris and chuck them in the compost. Take this time to do some weeding too as the soft spring soil should make it a bit easier to pull them out. Don’t put any of the invasive weeds in the compost though. The compost won’t get hot enough in this weather to kill them and they’ll grow back with a vengeance.

Quick Sow Spring Seeds 

September/October can be a little bit of a lull period in the garden, food wise. There’s not an awful lot to harvest from winter as you’ll be emptying your garden beds  for summer crops. I like use this time to direct sow quick growers like radishes, baby turnips, spring onions and  beetroot (where I use the leaves in salads as I wait for the actual root to grow). They can be harvested in as little as 30 days so you can at least have something fresh to harvest while you wait.

Feed existing plants

Feed your garlic and your rhubarb now, both are heavy feeders! For rhubarb, apply some compost and sheep pellets, or well rotted manure around the crown of the plant to feed it and retain moisture. Feed your garlic with a fertiliser high in nitrogen and add a side dressing of blood and bone. Take care no fertilisers or manure touch the garlic plant itself.

Feed strawberries now and all other berries with Strawberry food. Feed your citrus trees now with Citrus food.

Feed your deciduous fruit trees now with Fruit tree Fertiliser. Check the soil around the trees and see if it needs attention. The rough winter weather can play havoc with the earth. Add compost if you need to around the base of the tree (make sure it doesn’t touch the trunk). Mulch your fruit trees.

Let your plants bloom

Some of your winter crops may be flowering now. If you want to give the bees a treat or you want to save seeds for next year, let them flower away. Let the flowers of whatever plant you’re seed saving from,dry out on the plant and then remove them and place in a brown paper bag. After drying them out further for another week or so, inside, give the bag a good shake to remove the seeds from the seed head. Label the bag and store in an airtight bag until you want to plant.

Some plants like parsley or coriander are excellent self seeders so you can just the let the plant do its thing and new plants will pop up next season.

Attract bees

Have your broad beans been flowering but there are no beans in sight? Each little flower needs to be pollinated and because of the wet weather the bees aren’t as active. We can try and attract them to our garden by planting beneficial flowers that bees love. Read more here –> Beneficial flowers in the garden.

Start Seedlings Inside

Zucchini, capsicums, chillis, cucumbers… these can all be started inside now so you can get ahead when it’s time to plant them out. Traditionally labour weekend is a safe bet to plant them out as the risk of frost is gone. For help starting seedlings inside, read more here—> Starting seedlings indoor.

Potatoes

Plant potatoes now so you have fresh spuds for Christmas! Generally you can harvest potatoes after they have flowered and died back but not all potatoes flower so this is not a sure fire method. Keep dates of when you planted your potatoes and what variety and then go from there.

I have listed a few common types and their harvesting times.

  • Rocket- 60-70 days, this a quick growing variety
  • Cliff Kidney- 60-90 days (depending on baby potatoes or if you want bigger ones)
  • Agria- 150 days for fully matured potatoes
  • Jersey Benne- 60-70 days, another quick growing variety
  • Highlander- 80-90 days
  • Red rascal- 90 days
  • Swift- 70 days
  • Liseta- 90 days
  • Purple Passion- 70-80 days

Happy Gardening!

Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)