Gardening Articles for week ending 17th JUNE 2017

Written by Wally Richards.

What do you mean? Start of a new season? We are currently in the middle of a very mild type winter so how come its the beginning of a new season?

The season begins on the 21st of June (well actually the next day the 22nd) as the 21st is the shortest day and the longest night in the Southern Hemisphere. It is opposite in the Northern Hemisphere where they will celebrate the longest day and shortest night putting them halfway through their growing season.

As from the 22nd the hours and minutes of sunlight will slowly increase with the sun rising a bit earlier and setting a bit later.

It normally takes us a month or two for the increase of daylight hours to register and sometimes not until daylight saving kicks in.

Our plants on the other hand are quick to notice the extra bit of sunlight increasing every day as that means they are gaining more energy (carbohydrates/sugars)

In technical terms we say:

Green plants make food in the form of carbohydrates by combining carbon dioxide and water using energy from sunlight. Carbohydrates are chemicals containing only the elements carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. The simplest useful form of carbohydrate produced by photosynthesis is glucose sugar.

There is that naughty word that is bringing calamity to the planet; co2, carbon dioxide, the stuff we breathe out and as the old saying goes, 'breathe on a little plant and make it happy'

Now think about this for a moment; plants need co2 + water+sunlight to grow and thrive.

With lots of co2, ample water and heaps of direct sunlight plants prosper out of sight.

Take away or reduce any of those factors and plants do not fair very well.

Nursery owners will release lots of co2 into their glasshouses to give plants a growth boost, they do this after watering on a sunny day and its a real 'Growth Bomb'

So the more co2 that is around is going to be a great advantage for our gardens and plants as long as there is sufficient moisture and plenty of direct sunlight.

In there lays the problem for those that are astute; direct sunlight and the absence thereof.

As we have seen during recent seasons that if it is not a cloudy day more often than not it is a hazy sky day, which greatly reduces the amount of direct sunlight that reaches our plants.

The effects of this vary from plant to plant and one or more of these aspects can be noticed; stunted growth, larger leaves, no flower buds, flower buds that dont open, flowering at wrong times, increased maturity times, increase of disease and insect pest damage.

Following this thought pattern how can co2 be a problem as we have zillions of plants that will take in all the co2 we can throw at them and they will love it, we might be quickly living in a jungle of plants but the co2 levels will be naturally reduced.

Plants die and the carbon from them is sequestrated into the soil building humus and saving the planet from co2 global warming.

So simple and all we have to do is fill our gardens with plants, grasses and weeds to save the world.

Oops there is a problem, the plants need heaps of direct sunlight to save the world and they are not getting it. Oh well back to the drawing board.

A reader sent the following very short YouTube clip which may help put the co2 thing into perspective and very easy to understand:

I received an email from the NZ Nursery association this week referring to a notice from our MPI which read: Genetically modified petunias

MPI is taking action after an overseas recall on unauthorised genetically modified (GM) petunias.

Several varieties of GM petunias have been reported in Europe, USA, and Australia, and are being recalled by regulatory authorities in those countries.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has identified potentially affected seeds from one importer in New Zealand. In May 2017, we sent the seeds for testing to an MPI-approved laboratory overseas.

Results from the tests came back positive for genetically modified material in the 'African Sunset' variety. We feel there are sufficient parallels with what's going on elsewhere in the world for us to take pre-emptive action on other varieties which have tested positive overseas and are known to be in New Zealand.

The biosecurity risk from these seeds is negligible and there is no risk to people or the environment. However, New Zealand has strict controls around genetically modified organisms (new organism). It is illegal to import, develop, field test, or release a genetically modified organism without approval.

Approval is required from the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Act 1996. MPI is an enforcement agency for new organisms.

It is good to see our Govt taking this action but what is the advantage of genetically engineering flower plants such as petunias? The answer is new flower colours that do not exist in nature for the type of plants. Read more here:

The shortest day heralds the time to plant your garlic and shallots if you have not done so already.

Recently a reader sent me some giant shallots which are about the size of a medium sized onion.

I was told that each bulb can multiply up to about 18 giant size shallots and need to be planted about 12 cm apart to allow for production. I am very impressed and was told by the gardener that he was given the starter plants by an old gardener some years ago and now only grows this variety instead of normal onions.

Then by chance when I was in a green grocer shop recently and for sale was some extra large shallots from a NZ supplier, these were not quite as big as the ones I was given but still much larger than the normal shallots.

Have a look at your local green grocer and if you spot some large shallots plant them well apart in very well manured soil. They are planted half buried. From the resulting crop keep some of the largest bulbs for re-planting and eat the rest. With any luck you could end up with the giant strain that I now have.

Garlic on the other hand also needs an well manured bed but the cloves are planted deeper so that the clove is down about 2-3 times its length in a friable soil.

Use Rok Solid and BioPhos along with animal or chicken manure in the growing area.

If you cant get animal or chook manure then use plenty of blood & bone and sheep manure pellets.

Bio Boost from Farmlands and some garden shops should also be included for better results.

Last season rust devastated many garlic plots so this year it may pay to do a 2 weekly spray of the foliage and surrounding soil with potassium permanganate (¼ teaspoon to litre of water) with Raingard added.

Alternative spray Liquid Sulphur with Raingard as both are good for preventing and controlling rust. Alternate the sprays every two weeks is not silly either, also spray your onions and shallots as well.

Problems ring me at 0800 466464 (Palmerston North 3570606)
Web site
Phone 0800 466464

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Replies to This Discussion

CO2 explained in Laymen's terms: No political agenda just science

This three-minute video puts carbon dioxide into perspective. Yes, it's principally aimed at Aussies but the science, not hype, is universal.

PS. Malcolm Roberts is currently an Australian Senator and member of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party, elected in 2016 representing Queensland.



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