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Pinching laterals off tomatoes and peppers leaves tiny wounds that heal in a flash preventing viruses and bacteria getting in. File Photo: PIXABAY

Catch problems while small

A daily stroll around the garden is one way of early identification of any problems that may be developing in the garden. Catch them when they are small makes for simple solutions. Squashing little groups of aphids or a few shield bugs can prevent later larger infestations.
This month is about succession of crops especially the ones that you are most likely to eat plenty of. Sow direct, summer salad greens, spring onions, cucumber, beans, carrots, beetroot, capsicums, and eggplants. Pinching laterals off your tomatoes and peppers leaves tiny wounds that heal in a flash preventing viruses and bacteria getting in. This allows the trusses of fruit to develop better and promotes better airflow.
Continue to mound up potatoes to prevent them going green. They should be nearly ready for Christmas Day harvest. It is also time for garlic and onions. These can be pulled and left to dry on the ground before storing.
Harvest and dry herbs before they flower. They can be hung in small bunches or laid out in single layers in a warm, dry, airy place out of direct sunlight. They can also be dried in a dehydrator. Some herbs are nice to use for flavoured vinegars, one example is Rosemary infused Apple Cider Vinegar. Ensure the herbs are completely dry so there is no chance of bacteria forming. Sterilise the bottle or jar, add 2-3 stems of rosemary, cover with a good apple cider vinegar to the top then seal the container. Shake the jar/bottle a couple of times then keep in a cool place for 3 – 6 weeks before use. It is good for salad dressings. This makes a lovely Xmas present if you use attractive containers. Use whatever herbs you prefer, but ensure they are dry before starting.

If the weather predictions are correct for this summer you will need to be vigilant about feeding, watering and I advise mulching your gardens.
This applies to vegetable beds, around fruit trees and flowers gardens. Mulch is your soils shelter. It keeps the moisture in, provides a roof over the worm’s heads, and drip feeds the soil life. Mulch comes in many forms so check out your local garden centres for advice. Pea straw is one of my favourites around strawberries.
Liquid feed with seaweed will make your garden look very happy and promote good strong growth. Happy plants mean successful cropping. Plant cosmos, phacelia, calendula, cornflower and more sunflowers. Encourage the kids to plant sunflowers and see who can grow the tallest. These are all great for attracting nectar loving bees to help the pollination cycle. Whatever you are planting be it seeds or seedlings water well and prepare the soil with blood and bone and sheep pellets.
Avoid cutting the lawn too close it will dry out to quickly. Water the lawn in the evening to allow moisture to soak into the roots overnight.
Happy gardening and have a wonderful, safe Christmas and New Year.
– Supplied by Ngatea Garden Circle