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Horowhenua Chronicle

Friday, October 11, 2019

Gardening Q&A

GARDEN TASKS

WITH GLENYS WOOLLARD What kind of herb is epazote?

It’s a tall leafy annual with a fairly strong taste, popular in Mexican cooking but also having medicinal uses. Seeds are sometimes available in NZ; plant in a sunny,

Refill and tidy ponds

Empty your ponds and water features and clean them. Refill with clean water, and buy a couple of new water plants.

Watch for leaf curl

Watch for peach leaf curl. It shows up as curled and blistered leaves on the new spring foliage of your peach, nectarine and almond trees. Spray with copper.

Thin out seedlings

Thin out carrots, parsnips and beetroot to allow plants more room to develop.

Trim hedges

Give new hedge plants a gentle trim. They’ll be putting on new growth now but topping them will encourage growth at the base.

GROW YOUR OWN

Photo / Getty Images

AVOCADOS

A

vocados are rich in vitamins, antioxidants, fibre and healthy monounsaturated fats, so they’re a powerhouse of nutritional goodness. If you’re keen on creating guacamole, salsa and salads from homegrown avocados, consider including some trees in your garden. Avocados are mainly grown in warm areas of the North Island of New Zealand, however they can also be grown in a warm frost-protected spot in slightly cooler areas. Here are a few important tips when it comes to growing avocados at home: Avocados need moist but well drained soil. Poorly drained soil can quickly lead to root rot and plant death. Choose a sunny, sheltered site that is protected from frost and wind. Avocado flowers contain both male and female organs which open twice over two days. When the flower first opens it’s female, when it reopens on the second day it’s male. The timing of this flowering classifies avocados into either A or B types. Although there can be some self pollination in warm areas, planting two different varieties (from an A and B type) will help improve pollination and fruit set.

well-drained spot, and once away pinch back the leaves to make a bushier plant. You can harvest epazote after 45-60 days, young tender leaves and stems are best, but note that too much of this herb can be toxic, and it isn’t recommended for pregnant women. Coriander is considered an acceptable substitute, even in Mexico.

What’s the difference between the various kinds of iris?

Their growing system. Irises grow from either bulbs or rhizomes, which separates them into two main categories with numerous subdivisions. Examples of bulbous

Photo / 123RF

‘A’ varieties that are great for growing in medium sized backyards include Haas and Reed. ‘B’ varieties include Bacon and Fuerte. Grafted plants will fruit earlier than seedling trees. Avocados will not ripen on the tree. Pop a too-firm avocado in a paper bag with a banana for a few days to help it soften. Avocados perform best when planted into soil that’s been enriched first with a concentrated source of organic matter like Yates Dynamic Lifter Organic Plant Food. Yates Dynamic Lifter will help improve the

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quality of the soil, encourage earthworms and beneficial soil microorganisms and provide the tree with gentle nutrients as it establishes. Reapplying Yates Dynamic Lifter every six weeks from spring to autumn will help ensure the trees have enough nutrients to promote healthy foliage and a great harvest. Mulching around the root zone with an organic mulch will help reduce moisture loss and add further organic matter to the soil. ■ For more ideas and information, visit yates.co.nz

irises include Dutch, English and Spanish irises (the xiphium group) as well as reticulata (aka dwarf bulbous iris). Both bearded and non-bearded types grow from rhizomes, likewise flag, Louisiana, Siberian and Japanese irises — with 300-odd species and many natural hybrids, it can be confusing. Named after the rainbow goddess, there’s an iris for most situations. If you have a gardening question, email Glenys at glenyswoollard@icloud.com

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