Five-minute gardener: what to do this weekend

Sow carrots directly into light, well-drained soil.
Sally tagg

Sow carrots directly into light, well-drained soil.

1. Sow root crops

It's a good time to sow beetroot, carrots, radishes and turnips. If your soil is heavy and/or clay, try shorter and ball-shaped varieties. In dry weather seeds need to be sown a little deeper to lessen the chances of them drying out. Plant maincrop potatoes now and mound up early ones before their leaves get too high and bushy. You can also sow kohlrabi, spinach, silverbeet, peas and lettuce.

2. Propagate artichokes

Propagate glorious globe artichokes by seed or from offshoots.
Sally Tagg

Propagate glorious globe artichokes by seed or from offshoots.

Globe artichokes can be sown now, but better still is to propagate them by taking rooted suckers off existing plants. Cut these off when about 20cm tall and replant in rich, well-drained soil in a sunny spot. Heads should not be harvested off these plants until their second year. (Alternatively you can divide your artichokes in late summer. Cut the head back after flowering thereby encouraging energy to go to the offshoots, which can be cut off, with their roots, in autumn and replanted.)

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3. Feed and weed berry crops

Soft fruits, such as raspberries, gooseberries and currants will benefit from a thick layer of compost or well-rotted animal manure, both as a feed supplement and to help retain soil moisture. Ensure strawberries are kept weed-free. Hand weeding is best so as not to damage the roots, which are close to the surface.

4. Pretty up pots

Plant up hanging baskets, window baskets and the like with pretty flowering ornamentals.

5. Take steps for great roses

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Spray roses now to protect against mildew and blackspot. Tie in shoots of young climbing roses by gently twisting young shoots of climbing roses. Keeping them as horizontal as possible will encourage flowering shoots from low down.

6. Check on container plants

Do a health check of plants in pots, both indoors and out, to see if they need repotting into a bigger vessel. If they are looking a tad tired, they may need a refresh of the soil. Plants generally need repotting every two to three years.

To check, just gently remove plant from container and check the roots for signs of the plant becoming rootbound – the roots will have filled the pot and be spiralling around and around (like they are desperately trying to find somewhere to go).

If rootbound, you can either repot into a bigger pot using fresh potting mix (either homemade or bought); or should you not wish it to go into a bigger pot, cut off about the bottom one-third of the roots. This can be quite a task and needing the likes of a hacksaw. Then add fresh mix to the pot and replant.  

Give all your container plants a feed now too.

 

 - NZ Gardener

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