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News & tips for July 2018


News & tips for July 2018 name

A wee while ago I wrote about growing potatoes in winter in the north of the North Island. Having no idea our winter would be colder than a polar bears poo, I was confident that my potatoes would come up well. However after reading in a certain gardening magazine about one writers experience with frost burnt potatoes (she had planted them in May in Auckland), I started to panic - had I inadvertently sent hundreds of wee potatoes to an early grave and made myself look like a nicompoop! I hadn’t noticed any blackened stems in my garden so I went out there with my shovel and decided to find out if my wee tatie patch was now in tatters. And ah ha this is what I found; two perfect little potatoes, Heather and Swift. Confidence restored. In spite of two or three frosts, it is possible to grow potatoes over winter in Auckland. However, to be safe, one should really cover them on a cold still night just to be sure.

Now on the subject of potatoes all the potatoes are now in stock, so we have; Agria, Allura, Cliff Kidney, Dsiree, Ilam Hardy, Haylo, Heather, Jersey Benny, Lisetta, Maris Anchor, Moonlight, Purple heart, Purple Passion, Rocket, Red rascal, Rua and Swift. We also have a selection of Maori Potatoes. So get them now, let their sprouts (eyes) grow a bit, dig a wee trench 15cm or so deep, cover and then wait until their shoots come through. Some people mound a lot, some don’t mound much, and if you're a particularly lazy gardener like me, you might give them one half-hearted mound. A bit of nitrogen is good in the form of Cropmaster – but I’m a bit stingy so I don’t give mine anything, however, I am particularly good to my soil so they don’t really need anything else.

Alongside potatoes, a very hardy crop that is great to grow at this time of the year is Cavalo Nero. It’s grown well in spite of the never ending attacks of the snail army. Any other leafy green is good to grow at this time of year too. The only thing to watch out for are the slugs and snails (it’s also a good idea to have free draining soil given the amount of rain we are getting). Again, you will have to start the plants inside and wait until the threat of frost has passed before planting then out. Alternatively, protect them with a cloche or something similar.

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