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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: Getting started

Winter gardening opinion

If you’re a gardener like me we are chaffing at the bit to get started for the new season.

Now with only 4 weeks to the shortest day, then those that are keen can make some early sowings and plantings.

Planting seedlings 2-3 months ago was a bad time to do so as the day light hours were reducing and they would sit there and sulk with little if any growth.

Then after the shortest day those seedling would respond but as they have had a check of no growth they will feel that their lives have been threatened and they will bolt going to seed to reproduce themselves.

Any planting of seedlings between now and the shortest day can be done but to ensure that they are encouraged to grow naturally, we will give them some liquid sunshine mixed with Magic Botanic Liquid (MBL).

We could force them to grow like commercial growers do by applying nitrogen rich fertilisers but in doing so we are risking disease and pest attacks on our forced growth plants which makes them weak and means more work trying to control Natures Cleaners and vegetables lacking in nutrition. (So then you might as well forget growing healthy food and buy the commercially grown stuff).

The day light hours will start to extend but the soil temperatures are cold so that does not help with establishment.

Here is what to do: make a trench about a spade depth to plant your vegetable seedlings in.

Next mow the lawn and collect the clippings which you are going to put in the trench and trample them down to compact them.

Over the clippings sprinkle Wallys Calcium & Health and some BioPhos and Ocean Solids.

Any animal manures you have throw that in as well or can use sheep manure pellets and blood & bone.

Then replace the soil previously removed. If in lumps break them up with a garden hoe before returning to the trench.

Now plant your brassicas, silver beet and any other hardy vegetable plants you like to grow.

Once planted dissolve a table spoon of molasses into a couple of litres of hot water and add about 40 mils of MBL.

When cold, water that over the foliage and into the soil to give each plant a drink. This can be repeated once or twice a week.

It is to stimulate growth as if the day light hours were longer.

You can also use the grass clippings buried; to warm the soil to germinate seeds such as broad beans.

Always soak larger seeds in MBL for a little while before planting or spray them with it after sowing and before covering, it help seed up germination.

Another method is to sow the seeds and cover the area with black plastic film such as the black plastic rubbish bags held in place with lengths of wood or rocks.

Lift every day or two to see if germination has started.

If you have a heat pad for germinating seeds then use that to get tomato plants, cucumbers, capsicums etc germinated and then pot up and protect them in sunny place as they grow on.

If you have a glasshouse or similar perfect for growing on and then potting up to larger containers till ready to plant out.

I have had a couple of readers tell me that last season when their garlic plants started to get the dreaded garlic rust they used the molasses and MBL (Liquid Sunshine) as a soil drench over the plants a few times and they were able to harvest reasonable sized bulbs; so that is worth bearing in mind.

Another reader asked about transplanting roses this time of the year?

My reply was; Roses are dormant or going into dormancy at this time and the ideal time to lift and transplant.

The key is to keep the roots moist and dont let them dry out. Straw or hay wet is all that is needed to do that. Remember as soon as you lift them cover the roots.

Also in location they can be heeled into a garden in bunches or individually till ready to place in permanent spots.

Realty Check Radio is back operating again and so are my gardening programs with Rodney Hide.

The recent recorded is available on the Internet at this link.

We were doing a bit about old time days and a reader asked me what vegetable gardening was like 50 plus years ago.

Well that is history now and a lot different to how we do things today. Here it is:

At this time of the year a gardener would turn over the area for growing vegetables; digging and turning to the depth of two spades deep.

(There were no gyms like today so they needed the exercise) The clods would be left are they came off the spade in lumps.

Garden Lime and a good sprinkling (looking like a thin layer of snow) would be tossed over the clods and left for winter and frosts to do their job.

In the spring the clods would easily break up with the rake to a fine tilth.

With a hoe straight mounds would be formed about 12 cm tall and 30 to 40cm apart into which would be planted seeds or seedlings.

Blood and bone would be incorporated into the mounds (that was real blood and bone not the stuff available today) and any manures available which as every one had chickens a lot of chicken manure would be incorporated.

Horses passing on the street would also be collected and used their droppings.

The trench between the rows would be the walk way and in summer when soil became dry it was the trenches that would be flooded to water the vegetables on either side.

A hoe would be used along the trenches to cut out the young weeds as they grew which would not only mean more food for the vegetables growing but the hoe action would cut some of the vegetable plants roots on the side of the mounds causing them to re-root and within a couple of days or so you would see that the vegetables had grown a bit quicker and bigger from the hoeing.

The vegetables harvested were the supreme, ultimate of healthy nutrition and we were so healthy and fit back then.

Very few over weight people and as kids we would either run everywhere or bike.

I even remember when about 9 years old me and about three other friends planned to pack our bags and bike to Auckland from Palmerston North.

But our parents put the kibosh on that adventure. Likely just as well as we would have only got to Bulls or somewhere when night set in and then it would be a problem of no warm bed to sleep in.

Healthy and fearless, that was a real childhood to have lived and readers of an age I am sure will agree, we had the best of the times but did not realise it till now.

Image credit: Marek Studzinski

Order from www.0800466464.co.nz.

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
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