Flower Power in the Garden- Beneficial Blooms

Flower Power 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 roundworm, slugs and leaf hoppers.

They are a fantastic pairing with tomatoes as tomatoes can often fall victim to the attack of round worm.

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, they’re 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 horn worms and cabbage worms. It also leaves beneficial trace elements in your soil when it’s planted.

Borage flowers
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

Last on my list today is the 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.)

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

nasturtium flowers
Nasturtium

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.

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. If your soil has poor drainage, add some Tui Garden Mix to the bottom of the hole. Place the tree in the hole and fill with Tui Garden Mix and compost.

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. Dig in lots of compost and well rotted manure or sheep pellets to 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!

Soup in the Garden- Being Self Sustainable

Soup in the Garden- Being Self Sustainable

Have you ever read the book, Bootlace Soup by Anthony Holcroft? It was one of my favourites as a child.bootlace soup

A tired and hungry hunter comes out of the bush one evening and asks an old couple for a meal. They say they have no food in the house. That’s fine, says the hunter. He pulls out one of his bootlaces and tells the couple this will make a delicious soup. All it needs is an onion. They get the onion. Oh and a potato. They get the potato. Oh and a pinch of salt- and so forth.

In the end the ‘bootlace’ produces a delicious soup when the old couple had initially thought they had no food.

What’s the point of me telling you this story? Well it’s sort of what I base my vegetable gardening on. Even if the cupboards are bare and I can’t get to the shops, I can always get enough from my garden to make a ‘bootlace’ soup.

Minus the bootlace.

self sustainable pak choi

It’s pretty cool to be self sustainable like that, even if it’s just the basics. You can make a good soup with pretty much any garden greens so there’s nothing specific you need to plant.

I think it’s a cool little message to keep in the back of your mind- always have a soup growing in your garden. ❤️

July in the Garden- Planting Strawberries

July in the Garden- Planting Strawberries

Nearly half way 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.

In today’s post I’m setting up a patch just for strawberries. Strawberries are one of those plants that doesn’t grow too well with a lot of other edibles so I like to keep them separate.

Some of the products I have used today are Tui Strawberry Food, Tui Strawberry Straw and Tui Strawberry mix. Head on over to my Facebook page for a chance to WIN all of the above! Read More

June in the Garden- Winter To do List

June in the Garden- Winter To do List

It sure is cold at night! This month we need to focus on keeping our plants warm in our winter garden as the weather rapidly cools.

What to sow this month from seed: broad beans, garlic, lettuce, onion, silver beet, peas, kale and spinach

What to plant this month from seedlings: broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, spinach, lettuce, silver beet Read More

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