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Patch from Scratch September 09

I can feel spring in the air and the daffodils are a welcome sight!   The dream house is wonderful but the number of slugs and snails in the garden is astounding.  Anyway, I am having to make do with the vege beds that are already here for this season until I have time to really think about the whole garden design properly.  So, I started preparing the first patch, ran out of time and threw some cardboard over what I’d done to keep the cat out.  Well, what a great slug and snail trap, the next day when I turned the cardboard over, there was a party going on underneath.  So I collected them up, poured boiling water on them then shoved them in the compost (they are a compost activator)!  I’m now doing it every few days and getting more and more!

A split alliance has developed in our house when it comes to the snail warfare. Miss 4 yr old Renée has got herself a pet snail called Ente, so she’s not so keen on seeing all his relatives die.  However, I have to say, its probably the best little pet for her as he doesn’t take much looking after and every time he slopes off we can always find him (or replace him with one of his many relatives)!

We just celebrated Scarletts 1st birthday, and are expecting again at the end of the year! Must be all those organic veges we’ve been eating J!

How to grow the best tomatoes

The first tomatoes are already in the shops but before you rush out and buy them, remember that the soil needs to be at a constant of least 16°C for them to grow.  Some of the early seedlings are forced to grow under glass, but once you plant them out in the cold garden soil, they will struggle to recover and are not able to grow until the soil has reached the right temperature.  Wait a few weeks until the soil is warmer and the seedlings you buy will be stronger.  They will fruit at the same time as any that you plant out now.  You can plant seeds indoors now and expect to plant them outside during the latter half of October.  Now, my gardening guru Bob has the best tomato plants.  Neat, tidy, and full of fruit.  He stakes them well when planting them and only allows one leader (or main stem) to grow.  As the plant grows, it is tied to the stake with old strips of stocking for support and all branches that develop only foliage get snipped off.  If they develop a flowering branch, they get to stay as the fruit develops where the flower is.  As you can see from the above photo, he can fit quite a lot of plants into a relatively small space and the plants are putting all their energy into fruit rather than leaves.  You’ll need to have a shade cloth to do this though as the leaves do provide some protection to the plant.  Try it this year and see how you get on.

Lizards

Look what we found in the garden over the weekend.  This is grey brown gecko is called a Hoplodactylus and as with all geckos is a protected species!  They are good to have in the garden as they eat heaps of insects, eat soft berries and the nectar from flowers.  As they move around they help to aerate the soil.  Not one for doing a 9-5 lifestyle, they prefer to come out at night.  Their skin can change colour to camouflage them from danger and apparently they can shed their tails to escape predators – then over time grow a new one, how cool is that.

lizard

To attract lizards/ geckos into your garden create thick ground covers and enticing environments using old rotting logs, layered rocks, mulched wood chip and vines. They like places they can hide and protect themselves from extreme hot and cold and from predators.  Plant berry or nectar producing natives around the area for them to get food from.  Garden organically so that sprays etc do not harm them and there are lots of insects for them to eat.  Mulch heavily, this creates a cool environment for them (as well as benefiting the plants).   Unfortunately cats and lizards really don’t go well together.  For more fascinating facts go to www.nzlizardzone.com

What to plant in September

Beetroot

Broccoli

Carrot

Climbing beans

Chinese Cabbage

Lettuce

Peas

Potato

Onions

Rocket

Radish

Spring onion

Spinach

Silverbeet

If you want to grow your own veges and could do with a helping hand to get the right start, then you may want to seek help.  Patch from Scratch offers an all inclusive service building vege beds for beginner organic gardeners and busy people and helping you to get up and growing.  We also offer Kits sets for DIY enthusiasts and a consultancy service for people who really want to do it all themselves but just need a bit of guidance.    For more on our services go to www.patchfromscratch.co.nz

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