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Wally Richards
Wally Richardshttp://www.gardenews.co.nz
Wally Richards has been a gardening columnist for over 30 years. Check his websites - for gardening news and tips visit www.gardenews.co.nz. For mail order products visit www.0800466464.co.nz. Wally also has a gardening problem help line on 0800 466 464.

Gardening with Wally Richards: Gardening tips

Gardening tips news

For most of the country it has been a poor spring and slow start of the growing season.

We have the daylight hours, in fact we are now only about 7 weeks away to the longest day of the year.

It is the temperatures that are the problem, we are not getting the constant warm temperatures during the day and night.

That does not matter to hardy plants and vegetables that can be grown outdoors all year around such as cabbages (Online shopping today New World whole cabbage $9.99 at Countdown $7.69).

Lettuce between $3.00 to $4.00 each?

Wow, I currently have so many lettuces that I give them to my chickens.

Not only that as a result of letting one lettuce (Drunken Woman my favorite) go to seed, it self-seeds giving hundreds of seedlings.

Some of which I have transplanted and currently have lettuce from small seedlings to mature plants going to seed.

I dont bother growing much cabbage, broccoli or cauliflower as they take longer to mature and we seldom use them anyway in preference to Bok Choy which is much quicker to mature and takes less room.

Silverbeet is an excellent vegetable to grow as it has high nutritional value and you harvest only the outer leaves for use as it will keep producing till it goes to seed.

Whether you grow in open ground, raised gardens or in containers you can produce hardy vegetables that will not only be inexpensive compared to current cost of purchased vegetables but will also have great flavour and be free of chemical poisons.

The stuff you buy from Supermarket is not only bloody expensive but are chemically grown and sprayed with chemicals thus having little goodness and a bland flavour.

If it tastes good without having to use condiments then it is good for your health.

Basically no matter how you grow you apply natural products to the soil/growing medium such as any animal or chicken manures, blood & bone, sheep manure pellets at the base.

Garden Lime such as Wallys Calcium & Health, minerals from Ocean Solids and Wallys Unlocking your soil.

Then over this a layer of Daltons Compost (most others I do not trust because they can contain recycled green waste which maybe full of herbicides).

Then into this you plant seeds or seedlings and spray them every week with Magic Botanic Liquid (MBL) they will grow twice as fast and twice as big and be very advantageous for your health and budget.

I expect that vegetables in the supermarket are only going to get dearer because of high cost of imported fertilisers, cost of chemical sprays to keep the plants looking perfect on the shelves and the cost of diesel.

Because of the milder temperatures heat loving plants are not fairing very well.

My tomato plants grown in a plastic house in the Auto-pot system are doing ok but plants that like much more heat such as cucumbers, capsicum and chili are sitting and sulking even with the high quality nutrient they have to grow with.

I hate to think how poorly these plants would do in open gardens along with pumpkin and other cubits.

They would really sulk until the temperatures became better which is most unusual for weather after Labour Weekend in NZ.

If, as some predict, we are heading into a solar minimum which reduces the global temperatures to the extent of a mini-ice age or worse then that would be far worse for food growing than a global warming.

Most of you will have planted or are planting tomato plants currently, if in a glasshouse you will have better results than outdoors. Outdoors you need a very sunny, sheltered spot for best results.

Treat the soil with the products mentioned but dont use Calcium & Health, instead buy some Dolomite.

Tomatoes and Potatoes like a slightly acidic soil pH.

Now this is important to get the best results out of a tomato plant; you make a deep hole and plant it deep, up to the bottom leaves or even deeper.

The reason is that a tomato plant will produce roots all the way up the trunk and often on a more mature plant you will see knobs near the base of the trunk which are beginnings of roots.

If that is seen then mould up the growing medium so the root system is increased.

The bigger the roots to feed, the better the plant.

You can place a little of Wallys Neem Tree Powder in the planting hole and sprinkle some of Wallys Secret Tomato Food with Neem Granules on the soil.

That will assist in deterring whitefly especially in a glasshouse as well as feed the plants.

The Secret tomato food contains a good amount of potash which I have noticed lacking in other brands, likely because potash is expensive.

If your tomato, capsicum, chili do not have ample potash then your fruit will lack flavour.

Wallys Secret Tomato Food with Neem Granules was created at the request of a specialist tomato grower who wanted the very best tomatoes.

He told me many years ago that he had tried all the brands but none of them produced really great flavored fruit.

So along with fertiliser experts we created the product, Wallys Secret Tomato Food which over the last 15 plus years has been well sort-after by people that love to grow the best tomatoes possible.

There are two types of tomato plants; Indeterminate and Determinate the first is tall growing and is actually a climber the later is a bush type which is short with a wide spread such as dwarf types.

In the Indeterminate type there are very large fruiting ones such as Boy o Boy which can produce fruit weighing 500 grams. Some you need only one slice to cover sliced bread!

To do that you need to not only remove the laterals but also reduce down the amount fruit per truss to get a monster tomato.

Laterals form between the trunk and the leaf branch and in Indeterminate tomato plants it is best to remove them otherwise you get a plant that requires lots of staking and support.

On a determinate plant the laterals are often left on to make the plant bushier and produce a lot more trusses and thus a lot of smaller fruit.

If you allow a lateral to grow about 8cm long you can strike it as a cutting and get free extra tomato plants.

If last season your tomatoes were affected by the tomato psyllid that we wrote about recently then you need to use Wallys Cell Strengthening Kit to protect your plants and be able to harvest tomatoes like you did in the past.

Image credit: Mali Maeder

Products mentioned are from Wallys Range of products and can be found in some garden shops or by Mail Order on www.0800466464.co.nz

Problems ring me at: Phone 0800 466464
Garden Pages and News at www.gardenews.co.nz
Shar Pei pages at www.sharpei.co.nz
Mail Order products at www.0800466464.co.nz

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