Watering pots, too much zucchini, wasp alarm: gardening tasks this week

Potted plants dry out very quickly in warm weather.

GARY SMITH / GAP PHOTOS / Stuff

Potted plants dry out very quickly in warm weather.

Make it easier to irrigate plant containers

Every spring, I fill every pot I find with vegetable and flower seedlings. In January, I decided I would never do it again because watering is a big job.

Here are my tips to make your job easier.

  1. Large pots don’t dry out as quickly as small ones. In addition, they maintain a more constant temperature, reducing the chances of cooking the roots.
  2. Quality flower pot with water-retaining crystals, slow-release fertilizer and moisturizer is worth the money. Read the fertilizer specifications on the bag and make a note in the 2022 NZ Gardener Garden Diary to top it up if it is no longer effective.
  3. Group the pots with the same irrigation requirements. Plants usually need the same sunlight and shelter; plus saves hose pulling.
  4. The ground cover reduces moisture loss in the pots, just like in the garden. Select the ground cover that is appropriate for the location and type of pan. Pea straw or bark chips can be messy if tossed by birds in a tidy yard or balcony. A mulch rug is one solution. They are biodegradable, made from recycled wool or paper, and some are impregnated with nutrients. Coconut fiber liners designed to hang baskets will also work, as will the non-synthetic recycled carpet pad that fits. Before covering the ground, make sure that the soil is thoroughly moist. Carpets are not particularly beautiful, so add a layer of decorative gravel, stones or glass pebbles.
  5. If a pot dries out too much, the soil will become hydrophobic and actually repel water. It just runs through the pot and doesn’t stay where the roots can access it. Rehydrate small, easy-to-lift pots by placing a large bucket in water until no more bubbles burst to the surface. For large pots, be prepared to water several times at intervals of about 10 minutes, until the soil is full.
  6. Wetting agents are surfactants. Soil particles are coated at the molecular level so that water is absorbed rather than stored like gel crystals. SaturAid granular soil moisturizer is non-toxic, so it can be used around vegetables. Soapy water and home-made decoctions containing agar-agar have the same effect.
  7. All gardening manuals recommend that pots should never be left in saucers in water. In practice, I have found that it is better for small pots to stand in 2 to 5 cm of water in a shallow tray for several days or a week rather than being allowed to dry completely. This is especially useful for trays and trays containing small seedlings that won’t survive if they go out for the weekend.
  8. Olla pots are a practical way to supply water at the root level. Read more about them here.

READ MORE:
* How to grow carrots
* How do gardeners water their gardens without using waterers?
* Recipe: Lactofermented green beans and more ideas for excess beans
* How to grow zucchini

Zucchini: ‘Cocazelle’ (front) and ‘Black Beauty’, ‘Campari’ tomatoes and ‘Blue Lake Runner’ beans.

BARBARA SMITH / Stuff

Zucchini: ‘Cocazelle’ (front) and ‘Black Beauty’, ‘Campari’ tomatoes and ‘Blue Lake Runner’ beans.

Check your zucchini plants every day

A fingerful of baby fruit becomes a monster in the blink of an eye. I grew three plants this year. Two ‘Cocazelle’ and one ‘Black Beauty’. ‘Cocazelle’ has less fruit but is delicious and suitable for grilling, grilling and any other zucchini recipe. Plants also transferred powdery mildew more slowly.

I grew all three plants vertically tied to a climber, hoping the better airflow would reduce powdery mildew, but in humid Auckland, it was just a hopeless fantasy.

I don’t usually take myself by spraying – bran, moldy plants still manage to produce fruit. By the time the plants succumb to a nasty, full-blown infection, I’m tired of eating zucchini and I’m ready to rip out the plants for the benefit of fall and winter vegetables.

Zucchini pickled with home-grown dill seeds.

BARBARA SMITH / Stuff

Zucchini pickled with home-grown dill seeds.

Everyone who grows zucchini needs some gluttonous recipes

This pickle is my favorite. Delicious with cheese and biscuits. Use baby zucchini so you get nice little circular slices in the finished pickles. Don’t overdo the soaking and resting time because the vegetables will lose their crispness.

Ray Garnet is a light zucchini pickle

Ingredients:

  • 1 kg of small zucchini
  • 2 medium onions
  • ¼ cup of plain salt
  • 2¼ cups of white vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon of dry mustard powder
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon of one of the following seeds: dill, cumin, mustard or celery

Method: The zucchini is washed, chopped and finely sliced. Chop the onion, place it together with the zucchini in a large glass or porcelain bowl and pour over water. Add the salt, mix and let stand for an hour. Then rinse and drip off. Meanwhile, bring the other ingredients to a boil. Pour over the drained vegetables, mix and let stand for another hour. Then boil for just three minutes before packing in hot, sterilized jars. Close it immediately or store it in the refrigerator for immediate consumption.

More zucchini recipes:

Do you have a zucchini wall? Here are some ideas on how to make the most of it …

End of season zucchini recipes from Sam Mannering

Recipe: Sam Mannering zucchini and feta flat bread

Monarch caterpillars make delicious bites for wasps.

MARTIN DE RUYTER

Monarch caterpillars make delicious bites for wasps.

Will your ruling caterpillars disappear?

They were probably grabbed by a paper wasp and looking for protein-rich food for their larvae. For the sake of truth, they also target white butterfly caterpillars munching on cabbage, but they have been bitten too often to show mercy.

The paper wasps have a thin waist and long, drooping hind legs. You can often spot them hanging around wooden fences and terraces, where they scrape the cellulose fibers off the surface of the bare wood as the building material for their paper pulp.

The wasp queen goes through hibernation in the winter and emerges in the spring, looking for a place to nest. Favorite places are wooden garden seats and tables, under eaves, hedges, tree branches and grilles – places that gardeners can touch with careless hands.

Paper wasp nest.

BARBARA SMITH / GET GROWING / Stuff

Paper wasp nest.

The nests begin with a circle of about six hexagonal cells on a disc attached to a support with a short stem. Each cell contains an egg from which it hatches. The queen feeds the larvae with caterpillars and other insects until they reach the female working wasps, which are ready to take over the nest-building and feeding tasks. The queen continues to lay eggs and the nest gets bigger as more cells get in.

Midsummer is the peak time for population growth. Locate and destroy the nests now to have fewer pests in the area to feast on grapes and other ripe fruits in the fall. Follow the flying wasps in the evening to find each nest. At night, when all the wasps are at home and less active, spray the nest with household insect spray or powder with Kiwicare No Wasps.

I’m not coordinated enough (or brave enough) to try this alternative pesticide-free method: Cut off the nest so that it falls into the bag underneath. Quickly seal the bag and place it in the freezer for humane disposal.

Don’t bother destroying nests in late fall. They will be almost empty as adult females and males hatch from all the larvae. Groups of males fly in a sunny spot to get the female’s attention. Once mated, the females look for a safe place to hibernate and the entire cycle continues.

Gardening by the moon

Plant root crops on January 28th. For regular care, take radishes and spring onions. Make a to-do list between January 29 and February 2 and prepare the ground for the fertile period beginning on February 3rd. Plant food plants other than those that grow underground, plus alissum, cornflowers, and wall flowers to feed the pollinators in the fall and winter.

Gardening according to the calendar

Mihi atu mō te tau hou. Welcome to the new year and the Raumati (summer) season, actually almost in the middle of summer, the driest period for most of us. The flowering of pōhutukawa and rāta is the forerunner of this summer period, known to some as matiti muramura. Maintenance tasks must be performed independently of the moon. As this is the driest period, especially in the Tangaroa phase from January 25-28, we need to pay attention to the signs of stress and respond accordingly to both ornamental and food plants as well as trees. The Tangaroa line also reminds us how important wai (water) is to our brand. Dr. Nick Roskruge

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