Healthy PlantsThis month my son is studying for his year 10 exams and last night we revised his biology together. I'm sure when I was at school we didn't do the detail he has done until at least year 13. We covered germination, plant structures and pollination. What stuck in my mind was the question about the three things needed for plant germination. Light, warmth and water. At this time of year, we have given our seedlings the necessary place to germinate but now we need to ensure they get the next important three to thrive. Water, food and protection. Water seems to be the easy one but it often the one overlooked. To highlight this are the tomatoes we have in one of our garden beds. All the tomatoes were from the same germination batch but as an afterthought (because we had so many) we put one into one of our Autopots and set it up with only water in the tank next to the garden bed in potting mix, the same as we have in the beds. I am very surprised at the difference in strength between the beds and the pot. The only difference is the watering. Those in the bed get the water whenever we remember to turn on the irrigation system whereas the one in the pot can get water whenever it needs it. New in the shop is the Autopot Spyder watering system. This uses the same self-watering valve technology as the Autopots but is designed for the smaller gardens. We will be setting this up in one of our garden beds over the next week, so I'll take photos and post it one the blog site when I'm done. Here at the shop we have a variety of food sources for the plants. Some are potted in potting mix or garden beds and some are in inert media like the coco fibre and clay balls. We are trying new things all the time. Mixing the clay balls with the potting mix gives the soil more air so the roots can thrive, and we definitely see the difference with the zucchini. Our organic philosophy is to feed the soil, improve the soil and the by-product is improved harvest. We use Rok Solid as our organic fertilizer of choice and we use Oceans 100 as a liquid feed once every couple of weeks or so. This seaweed and fish blend gives incredible results and has the added benefit of keeping away the rabbits. You would understand this once you smelt it! We also use our mineral salt mixes, Mr Grow for vegetables and Mr Bloom for the fruiting plants. Mr Bloom gives a boost to the plant to strengthen the flowers and improve the fruit set. Protection needs to be against not only the wind but also the insects and birds. All our garden beds have covering of some sort. We have some exciting new products in the shop to achieve this. The permanent Cloche frames are a versatile option. They allow you to easily change the type of protection you need depending on the time of year. We have removed the frost cloth of late winter / early spring and now have bug net over a bed to protect the red cabbage from the white butterfly. In addition, we now can offer Cloche or net Pop up covers that fit snuggly over a 1-meter square bed or can be staked over a part of an existing garden. The other option we have are Flexible cane balls. These are plastic balls used with bamboo cane to build a frame that can then have bird or bug net covering it. These are ideal for those odd shaped gardens or difficult areas that don't want to conform to the standard square shape.
It's getting very close now to the potato competition harvest day of the 2nd December and we are busy organizing the actual day. We have lots of great prizes lined up and I'm finalizing the food and drink that will be available. Weigh in will be from 10am to 12pm and winners announced around 12:10pm. Mark the morning on your calendar!
Christmas HolidaysWhen you go away for the holiday season who looks after the house plants? Autopot have the Easy2GO kit which is specially designed for watering pots for an extended period. All you need is a tray and a water container. The setup is easy. You can be confident your plants will be healthy when you return home. We have several great ideas for the Christmas season. There are options for everyone and every price range. For stocking fillers, one of my favorites is the Tin of Twine that has a cutter on the tin. No more having to carry a knife or scissors to cut the twine when tying up the plants. The Slug traps Slug X are a great idea with a bottle of beer for those that seem to have everything.
Special of the MonthThe Easy2Grow starter kit has been very popular and is still on special till the end of the month, down from $99.90 to $85.00 and in-store only. In addition until Christmas if you buy the Easy2Go kit ($35.00) you can purchase a Premium Garland tray (95cm x 35cm) for $10.00.
This month is so interesting in the garden; everything is growing well and starting to bear fruit. Our zucchini and cucumbers are in full swing now and the tomatoes are getting ready to fruit, it would be great if we were picking them before Christmas.
With the potato competition judging day looming, I've been looking at our potato planted in a bag the same as the competition ones. It's got beautiful foliage on top but it's anyone's guess what's happening underneath, that's the fun part of potato growing. Good luck and we look forward to seeing your results on the 2nd December. It's always a fun day and all in a good cause with all proceeds going to Huha this year.
We have some hanging tomato bags in the shop now. Julie and I had fun planting up our tomato; it was given to us by one of our fabulous seed growing customers and has the dubious name Green sausage. We're looking forward to seeing what it does grow!
The hanging baskets are looking fabulous at present. We are going to make up some more soon to keep the display going, it makes everything nice and colourful.
Petra and I cleared our herb garden yesterday ready to put our new Aquabox Spyder watering system in. We've decided to plant strawberries and blueberries and make a cover for it with our cane ball bamboo holder set. Petra has been feeding her strawberries at home weekly with Oceans 100 and says the results have been amazing. We'll do the same here and hopefully have a good crop this summer. I can't see any reason why not with a good watering system, good feeding routine and a net to keep the birds off.