Our District

February in the Garden

This month, I planned to give a rundown on how our irrigation projects are working in community gardens across the district. But the regular rain has made it hard to assess their success! Hopefully summer will arrive soon, and next month we can take a closer look at how the different systems are shaping up.

Rain has brought lots of lush growth - great for peas, beans and silver beet, but also great for fungal diseases. Rust on garlic, and blight on tomatoes have been common issues.

Because they come from a very dry climate, tomatoes struggle with wet leaves and are prone to fungal blight. Every year I think I’ve planted them far enough apart to create airflow between plants, then every year they somehow grow together in a big leafy mass….

 

Tomato care:

  • Choose a dry, windy or sunny day when blight spores won’t be active and wounds can seal over quickly.
  • Pinch out baby laterals (the shoots that grow where a leaf joins the stem) – this prevents plants becoming a bushy tangle.
  • Cherry tomatoes don’t need delateraling, and naturally have a more sprawling habit. Plant them at least 1m apart.
  • Tie in any new shoots to your stake or frame.
  • Cut away any blighted leaves, as well as yellowing lower leaves, and don’t compost these.
  • Sterilise your secateurs after this job (e.g. with meths or cider vinegar)
  • Always water the roots, not the leaves (unless you have some liquid feed in your watering can)
  • Move tomatoes around each year - blight spores will remain in the soil.

 

 Early stages of late blight on tomato leaves.  Pull it out!!!

 

Winter crops: Time to start preparing beds for brassicas and sowing seed if you want to grow them from seed. Leeks also need to go in pronto if you want them fat by winter.

 

The Council Green Gardener, Hannah Zwartz, offers sustainable and waterwise gardening advice to local residents, community groups and schools.

Community Visits and workshops are free. Get together five friends or neighbours and invite the Green Gardener round.

Contact Hannah through the Council Service Desk 04 296 4700 or at greengardener@kapiticoast.govt.nz