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It’s all in the balance

While taking the photo  of cabbages for the cover I was struck by the beauty of the colour and form of these and wondered why I’m so impatient to plant out the summer vegetables.  Especially considering the appalling weather we’ve been having the last few weeks.  Lessons in patience seem to be constantly presenting themselves.

Last year I saw my first blossom end rot (BER) in my tomatoes so this year I am determined to avoid it.  Everyone has a different theory as to what causes BER.  Temperature fluctuations, position in draughts, pH and lack of essential minerals, especially calcium and magnesium, are implicated and it probably is a subtle combination of all of these. 

Just as we need calcium for our teeth and bones, plants need calcium for healthy cell growth.   Magnesium is needed for healthy leaves.  As we know, plants harness energy from the sun by photosynthesis and magnesium is essential for this.  Soil shortages of magnesium are more common on light, sandy soils.

How a plant absorbs essential minerals is dependent on the type and balance of minerals available.   This balance can either help or hinder the uptake of other minerals.  All minerals available in the soil are not created equal.  Certain forms of one mineral can help the uptake of another or replace it.  Excess calcium in one form can inhibit the uptake of iron and potassium. Likewise, calcium can help plants by stopping the absorption of copper so help avoid copper toxicity. 

If you think you have a nutrient deficiency be careful what you try.  What initially looks like an iron deficiency may in fact be an excess of calcium instead.  What looks like a magnesium deficiency may in fact be over use of high-potassium fertilizers, as plants will take up potassium in preference to magnesium.

When I look at the chemistry of how the plant can uptake the essential minerals I know the temperature and the pH are important.  I always think of the pH as gateway or door for the essential mineral to enter the plant.  Each plant has a slightly different doorway and for each, the pH is the key to opening that door.   Your soil or nutrient solution needs to be in the correct pH range for the plant to be able to access the essential nutrients.

How do you know if you need to adjust your soil pH?  There are soil pH probes and pens available that will give you a base idea but if you want to really know you will need a soil test kit.  

I’m a great fan of lime.  Not loads of it.  I know it’s not so fashionable these days but a small handful of lime per square meter isn’t enough to significantly adjust your pH but it does give your soil the calcium it needs.  We all love using poultry compost to enrich the soil but this is quite acidic and would benefit from some added lime.  Why not try our Rocket lime?  This is 50% lime and 50% our favorite fertilizer with balanced nutrients Rok solid.

 

Potato Competition

One more month before harvest.  The 1000 litre water tank arrived Thursday.  It’s very exciting as the prizes arrive and the whole thing pulls together.  Even if you haven’t entered pop down and enjoy the fun as we harvest everyone’s potato bag.  Harvesting will be between 10am and 12pm.  The Te Horo hall is a great community asset and the kitchen restoration project is well worth our while.  Remember if the shop has the largest harvest at 12pm we will auction off the Devan 1000L water tank to the highest bidder. 

Thank our sponsors by supporting their products.  Tui, Primehort, DENZ, Redpath, Revital, Kings seeds, Garland, Autopot and Kongs

On the 1st of December day look out for

♥   Raffles – especially the Firewood Raffle, win a trailer of split wood

♥   Homemade lemonade for sale

♥   Sausage Sizzle

♥   Potato based cakes for sale

 

AutoPot news

Again, this month we had a great conversation with Jason at AutoPot headquarters in the UK.  He’s so energetic and such an inspiration in the garden.  We were discussing the benefits if the different growing media.  The 2 things you need to look for are

1.       Aeration

2.       Water retention.

After our experiences last year in the dry, hot weather my favorite is a clay ball and coir (coco) fibre 30:70 mix followed very closely by straight clay balls because of the ability to reuse them.  Jason advocates planting quite shallow when using just clay balls as this enables the plant to establish more quickly.  I’m very excited about our AutoPots this year as we have trials underway trying the different media and organics.  As you can see in the photo there’s plenty of growth this month.  We will actually weight the produce, so we can definitively say which produces the best.  

November Special

This month we are going to special the Garland Grow Pot self-watering tower.  Normal retail $55.00 but this month at the special price of $49.00.  This clever little pot has a water reservoir at the base with a visual indicator so you can tell when you need to top up the water.    We’re also offering our Bio certified Revital compost on special.  Two bags for $13.00.  You can never have enough compost!

Christmas Gift Vouchers

I cannot believe it is nearly Christmas again.  Usually by this time I have my Christmas cakes made and most of my shopping if not done at least thought out.  This year we are offering gift vouchers.  For those of you, like me who are at a loose end for presents stop by and see what we have to offer. 

 

Star Photo

Each month we will give away a 1L bottle of Nutrient or a bag of Diatomaceous Earth to the best photo sent in to us.  This month the winner is …  Chris Carrington.  This shows a great setup with a Starter kit and 2 extension kits. I’m looking forwar to seeing how these progress.  Many thanks Chris and pop in for your free bottle of nutrient.

Heather’s Corner

Oceans 100 is a bio certified organic fertiliser made up of kelp, fish and soil conditioners. Applied to soil and leaves, it provides a balanced dressing of necessary minerals for the plant’s growth, enhancing colour and flavour.

Oceans 100 can also be used as a deterrent for pests and disease. Rabbits are a real nuisance here, they get into our garden beds, scratching up anything we plant. Our cat stood guard over one hole for days until we eventually dug it up to see if there was anything there!

We have put a temporary fence around our kumara bed to keep the rabbits off, but we will also spray with Oceans 100. Not only does it give the benefit of feeding the plants, but also keeping the rabbits away. The fish and seaweed contain protein and rabbits dislike the protein. We’ve also been told that it gets rid of white fly. White fly can become such a problem over summer, both in the garden and in the greenhouse, we ‘ll be giving it a go. The smell is enough to chase them away. The smell doesn’t linger long so don’t be put off.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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