Winter certainly came with a bang on the 1st of June. We’ve had a pretty mild autumn and the garden is still producing well but on the 1st winter hit with a vengeance. Cold and rain had us stacking wood inside and lighting the fire. Which got me to thinking about what we do with the ash in the garden.
Wood ash is only useful if it comes from untreated wood. Wood ash can be great in the garden as fertiliser or for insect control but must be used with care if using it directly. When ash mixes with water it can form Lyre and salts which are better known for making soaps. While Lyre is useful, it is caustic and can burn plants if it is too concentrated so if you’re going to put it on the garden always sprinkle with caution. I prefer to put the ash in the compost and let the lyre and salts leach out before putting it onto the garden. Not all ash is equal. If you burn predominately softwoods such as pine, you will get less minerals compared with ash from hardwoods such as gum.
Why use it in the garden? Wood ash is high in trace minerals, calcium and potassium and can raise the pH of your soil. It balances my compost of manure, straw and wood shavings to give me a better pH. Take care around blueberries or other plants that like an acidic soil as the will not tolerate an increase in pH very well. Tomatoes love ash and a friend puts a ¼ cup of ash in the bottom of the holes for his outdoor tomatoes.
Dry ash is good for deterring soft bodied slugs and snails but this time of year it’s hard to have a dry garden bed. A good layer around the edge to the raised beds can stop the snails hibernating there over winter. Apparently, ants don’t like ash either as they can’t pick it up to clean it away, but I would worry about them getting up and moving somewhere even more annoying if you tried to kill an ant nest with them.
One tablespoon of ash per 1000L of water will help control algae in ponds. At that concentration it gives potassium to the other aquatic plants to help them out compete the algae growth which needs more nitrogen.
Sprinkle some of the ash onto the moss patches for an effective moss control.
And for some of the more unusual uses of ash – clean your windows, clean your whiteboards, shine your silver and my personal OMG WHY … make toothpaste … I don’t think so!
Recently we started stocking Trojan grow tents. These tents are made in England by a small company which obviously have used their experience growing indoors to design a quality product. The tents come in a big range of sizes and have both a budget silver range and a premium gold range to suit most budgets. After my success growing in a tent last year, I really like growing this way over winter to keep stocked with summer produce and keep my gardening passion alive in winter. I’m a bit behind this year though.
Amongst these great tents is a small propagation tent that we have set up in the shop as a working example. I currently have seeds sprouting, rocket and microgreens in the tent as well as tomato seedlings growing on to plant in a bigger tent when they are ready. I’m using the XL propagator to house the microgreens and a heat mat to ensure success with the seed germination. I’m quite stunned with the results so far and I now have this on my wish list for items to take home.
Now is the time of year where everything starts slowing down and we usually clean out the plants from the greenhouse to enable us to give the greenhouse and the pots a thorough clean ready for spring. This year my tomatoes and chili are still producing so it’s very hard to make the decision to rip them out. Having done a late sowing of the tomatoes has really paid off as the Tommy Toe and Money maker are still giving me enough.
We’ve planted brassicas in the AutoPot as well as in the garden. We left it a little later to ensure the white butterfly is no longer around and they seem to be doing very well. The Canna Terra Professional peat/perlite mix is impressive as well. You can see that the ones in this darker mix have had a flying head start when compared to the Coco/Clay ball mix. It will be interesting to see if the produce is heavier in the Terra mix as the plants mature. I’ll keep you posted.
AutoPot UK is constantly experimenting and trying new methods with the AutoPot range. The latest recommendations from AutoPot is to have your reservoir at least 6 inches above the level of your valve/ tray. This is to ensure the tray fills up efficiently and the suction around the base of the valve forms correctly. That way it ensures the valve stays closed until the plant has used the water.
This month the star performer in our shop garden has been the Kohlrabi. I have grown this before but didn’t know how to use it so with discerning toddlers it went to waste. This time I have used it in Coleslaw as well as in a stew with chicken, celeriac and cider.
The Brussel sprouts and Kohlrabi were growing safely from the white butterfly under a bug net. You can imagine my surprise to find aphids under the net. I asked the rep what the story was with this as I thought perhaps they may have been in the soil before I had put the net on. I was surprised to hear that the ants probably bought them in and farmed them. Incredulous I looked it up and yes it’s true Ants do indeed farm Aphids as described here.
The other star performer worth a credit is the Californian Wonder Capsicum. We’re still picking from it in June. Some of this is due to the mild autumn we’ve had but, I think these plants have done so well for us this year because of the worm castings we dug into the soil when we planted them. The worm castings were from our Hungry bin Worm Farm in the shop. These bins are a great investment to recycle the raw food scraps
Rok Solid Winner
The winner of the May competition for a 10Kg bag of Rock Solid is Kate Edwards. That sadly sees the last of the 10Kg bags from stock. We still have a few 4Kg Rok Solid and 5Kg Rocket Lime bags left.
Next Month we will be stocking a new product which Heather and I have had success with giving very impressive results … but more on that in July
Gardeners Choice Certified Organic Compost
20% off Gardeners Choice 40L Certified Organic compost
Normally $18.00 Now $14.40
While stock last
Offer only good in store, does not apply to online purchases
Mr Bloom for Flowering Plants
I have been using Otaki Hydroponics Mr Bloom to feed my African Violets. These are plants that have been propagated from my mother’s plant which could be 50 years old. Needless to say, they are special to me. They hadn’t flowered for years so I decided to feed them Mr Bloom. They are now flowering better than they ever have and there are more tiny buds forming. There is no reason why Mr Bloom can’t be used in the garden for anything you want to encourage to flower, whether it be vegetable or ornamental plants. Mr Bloom is high in potassium hence it encourages flower formation.
Just a few reminders for winter –
- Slugs and snails can completely ruin new seedlings. We use Quash or our slug and snail trap to control them.
- Mulch your garden with compost, pea straw or anything else that will compost and help to form a good rich soil.
- If you have a greenhouse, clean it with soapy water and rinse.
- Clean garden tools, secateurs and loppers with white spirits to prevent transfer of any disease.
- There is still time to plant garlic and shallots. They say plant on the shortest day and harvest on the longest.
Something funny we heard from a customer yesterday; after cleaning out autopots her husband washed the clay balls in the concrete mixer. He just added a bit of water and detergent then set it going. Job done! How is that for great kiwi ingenuity.