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Gardening away a pandemic

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Back in autumn, as the country began the great toilet paper frenzy, gardeners (and non-gardeners!) around the country suddenly went potty for plants. Hardware stores, garden centres and our own Awapuni Nurseries online shop, seemingly overnight, sold out of seedlings and plants - enough to make you wonder if Covid-19 had fast-forwarded the calendar to spring.

Which meant that in the space of a week, our normally abundant seedlings levels at Awapuni had been seriously impacted. Then came lockdown; with no staff to pick, pack orders, and re-plant the continual supply of seedlings needed. Suddenly, I found my-self rather busy at the nursery!

But a couple months on, the ‘new normal’ is here and I’m really heartened to see so many more Kiwis have discovered the joy of gardening and also eating home-grown produce. We’ve sown masses of seedlings, intensely watered (as pandemics seem to deter rain) and you can now once again, order veges online from Awapuni Nurseries, and have them delivered direct to your door.

And even though we’re now into winter, it’s still a great time to plant veges to ensure some fresh home produce in the coming months. There’s lots you can plant right now - starting with onions, brassicas and beets. If you’re not sure what to grow, I recommend trying some spinach and sugar snap peas.

Planting spinach now, will have you harvesting the outer leaves in four to six weeks. Sugar snap peas take a few weeks longer, but I do find them so satisfying to grow, and a delicious snack straight out of the garden.

Once you’ve cleared out a sunny, well-drained spot in the vege garden for your sugar snap peas and spinach, dig through some compost or general fertiliser. Leafy greens like spinach will also thrive in planters and pots. Sugar snap peas can grow up to 1.5m high, so will need something to climb up, like a trellis or netting. They grow best planted in garden beds, around 15cm apart.

Plant your spinach seedlings 20cm apart, and then apply peastraw, newspaper or mulch to help keep the weeds away. After that, all you need to do is watch out for slugs and snails. Slug bait works well, but I do love organic beer bait traps in the vege garden too.

Come mid-winter you’ll be able to start harvesting your produce. And to keep gardening away this pandemic, remember to plant new seedlings every few weeks to ensure a continuous supply.

Henri Ham, Awapuni Nurseries

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