March Gardening New Zealand

March Gardening New Zealand.

The days are getting noticeably shorter and nights cooler for Gardening in New Zealand. Although we can usually look forward to more sunny hot yet. Most flower beds have a profusion of brightly coloured blooms. This is the peak harvest month for apples and pears, and the end of the harvest for stone fruit. The birds can become a nuisance with nearly ripe fruit by either pecking holes in large numbers of fruit or just consuming the majority of your fruit just before they’re completely ripe. The last stages of ripening are when the sweetness develops to make the fruit taste so good. With small and espaliered trees bird netting can save your crop. There are many parched soils, requiring close attention with irrigation to save valuable plants from dessication and terminal demise.

Tasks For March Gardening New Zealand

General

Propagation
Many trees shrubs and herbaceous perennials can be propagated from semi-mature tip cuttings. Select young strong shoots from the lower outer extremities of the plant. Make a clean cut below a node. Generally each cutting should be between 100mm and 200mm long. Remove the leaves on the lower 2/3rds, make a small scrape wound about 10mm from the base of the cutting on two sides and dip into rooting hormone if you want to spend the money and increase you chances. Then insert the cutting into a container of clean pumice sand or coarse sand. Water the sand and place a plastic bag over the cuttings and place them in a bright warm , location without direct sunlight. Ensure they remain moist. Some cuttingss will even grow roots when placed directly in to a container of water. The water needs to be changed regularly to avoid becoming putrid. Be patient you may have to wait weeks. Don’t pull them out to see if they have roots because the roots will probably break off in the early stages. If you get a 25% success rate consider you have done well. Once they have strong roots, pot them up and grow them on to transplanting size.
Watering
It can be a good idea to get a trowel or spade and dig a hole down into the soil to see how moist it is, and therefore how much water is required, both before and after watering. I’m often disappointed by how shallow my watering efforts have penetrated. Generally you’re better to give a heavy watering less frequently than a frequent light watering, because a light watering doesn’t penetrate deeply and gets evaporated in the heat of the day. While deep watering helps develop a deeper root system that makes plants more resistant to drought. Hand held watering is the most accurate, and time consuming watering method. An installed irrigation system is the most time efficient watering method and can still accurately apply water. Especially if you have a timer to regulate watering duration. Generally evening watering gives the most efficient use of water because it allows moisture to soak in deeper overnight, than watering in the morning where the sun will evaporate more surface water before it penetrates deeper. Mulches of compost or organic matter such as bark will also help conserve oil moisture.
It’s worth considering installing an automatic watering system, with a timer that turns on and off at predetermined times. This means there’s one less chore to remember to do. Simple watering systems can be installed by amateurs, but most of the handyman systems I’ve seen have been a waste of time and money, because there not done properly.
I am available to install irrigation systems on Auckland’s’ North Shore. You can use the contact page to contact me.
Weeding – Now’s your chance to beat those weeds, while they’re dry with a hoe or herbicide, preferably before they drop their seed. Many annual weeds can be killed easily and quickly with a hoe, by chopping them off just below the soil level.
If it’s getting too much for you to do you can consider getting professional help from a landscaper
With property values the way they are, it’s a good investment to maintain and improve your property.
Ants – Ant number tend to build up over summer especially in northern districts. They like sugary liquids so be careful with those soft drinks. Bait products that are available in most supermarkets will kill most ant nests, although you may get two invasions. The first application tends to attract large numbers of ants and it looks as though it’s getting worse, but this is because the ants carry the product back to the nest and then kills the majority of ants, but you can get more eggs hatching and get a second invasion, but if you keep replenishing the baits you will eventually reduce the numbers drastically, until they slowly build up numbers again! It’s worth considering putting the baits under the building where practical to stop them before their numbers increase.

Food Gardening

Vegetables –

Harvest your crops regularly to get the produce at it’s best stage, often this requires a daily walk around with a container.
Dig up your potatoes, kumara, yams and Jerusalem artichokes, when the tubers are big enough and store them in a cool dark place. ( If you can resist eating them straight away when they’re at their best! )
You can harvest your pumpkins when the stalk starts browning off.
Keep planting a succession of vegetables at a rate that suits your consumption, so you have a continuous supply. When sowing or planting seeds or seedlings imagine the size or the mature plant and allow that much space between each plant.
Apply a dressing of fertiliser to actively growing plants.
Slug and snail – They are usually less of a problem now because they don’t like dry conditions, but when you plant seeds or seedlings it’s still a good idea to apply some control measures.
Collecting seeds
Many annual vegetables and herbs will bolt to seed at this time of year. You can save your self money by collecting your own seed for future sowing. The simplest way is to let the seed fully develop and when it looks brown and dry harvest it. You can simply sow it straight away or save it in a paper bag stored in a cool dry location after labelling it.
Keeping in mind not all plant varieties come true from seed so seedling may differ from their parents.
Fertilising
You can get good growth and production at this time if there’s enough soil moisture and nutrients. So continue applying dry fertiliser in small amounts to moist soil and water in. Or use liquid fertiliser. Dilute concentrated concoctions of fertiliser because they can burn plants. Use a little and often is the general rule with fertilisers. I generally prefer organic fertilisers such as animal manures that increase earth worm populations and healthy soil micro organisms.
Tree roots
Nearby trees will often send their roots into the moist fertilised vege garden and compete with your veges for moisture and nutrients. So keep an eye out for tree roots and chop them off when you see them.

Veges to plant or sow –

Beetroot, brocoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chicory, Chinese cabbage, cress, endive, kohl rabi, leeks, lettuce, mustard, onions, parsnip, peas, radish, salsify, shallots, silver beet, spring onions, swedes, turnips.

Herbs –

Continue harvesting for fresh use. If your herbs are going to seed consider either sowing the mature seed directly back into the garden or storing it for future sowing. Some herb seed can be crushed with and pestle and mortar and used for flouring. Herbs can also be dried on trays in a sheltered sunny location with occasional turning until dry. Then store them in an air tight container for future use.

Fruit Trees

Pip and Stone Fruit –

Many apple and pear varieties are ripening now so pick them when they’re ready.
Most varieties of plum, peach and nectarine have matured and been picked or dropped on the ground by now. Remove any fruit on the ground and dispose off site, as this can be a source of future infection of diseases and where insects can over winter. You can do summer pruning if you want which concentrates on removing big sucker shoots that are unwanted.
If you’ve started a spray program you will need to keep spraying regularly as the weather permits for it to be effective. But be careful to read the label about the withholding period. That is the period recommended to lapse before harvesting produce, because many sprays are toxic to humans!
Citrus –
You should be able to see the next seasons crop forming. Give the trees an application of fertiliser and keep the soils moist.
Feijoa – You should be able to see young fruit forming. Give the tree some fertiliser and keep the soil moist. Luckily Fejoas can produce good fruit without needing to be sprayed.
Berry fruits – The harvest is over so prune out the old wood and tie the new growth to a support. Keep the soil moist.
Raspberries, blackberries, boysenberries, and loganberries – The harvest is over, so prune out old wood and tie new growth to a support, and fertilise. Keep the soil moist.
Strawberries – The main harvest is over. Remove old weak looking plants and leave the new runners if you want to have another crop next year. Keep a continuous supply of water and fertiliser available in the soil.
Passionfruit – The harvest is beginning, so pick the fruit as in changes to a dark colour.
Grapes – The main harvest period is around now depending on the variety and how well you’ve protected from the birds.

Green Houses/Glass houses –

Daily watering will be needed for vegetables. Good ventilation is also important, to avoid overheating and too much humidity. Shading may need to be considered for sunny positions. Remove any bolting plants and decaying matter and weeds. Tie up climbing plants, such as tomatoes and cucumbers to a support system. Continue controlling any snails and slugs. Also ensure a continuous supply of water and nutrients. Keep a planting a succession of seedlings as space becomes available.

Pot and Container Grown Plants

Move indoor plants away from direct sunlight that can get intensified through the glass and cause leaf burning where you end up with brown dead patches on the leaves. Watering may be required daily and including some diluted liquid fertiliser is beneficial to most plants. If your plant becomes too dry, sometimes first aid of submerging the whole pot into a bucket of water filled to the height of the soil in the pot, for half an hour will revive them.
Repot plants that have finished flowering in to fresh potting mix and a slightly larger pot. Remove dead leaves and dust with a damp cloth or spray.
Control any insect or diseases. If you find mealy bugs on the roots, you can submerge the pot into a solution of pesticide to kill them.

March Gardening New Zealand for the Ornamental Garden

Bulbs and tubers –

Plant winter and spring flowering bulbs. In cold central and southern districts this needs to be done soon.
Bulbs & tubers to plant
Anomone, babiana, cyclamen, daffodil, freesia, hyacinth, iris, jonquils, lachenalia, ranunculus, scillia, snowflake, spraxia, tritonia, tulip, watsonia.

Dead heading

There’s a lot of dead heads ( flower heads with no petals ), that need to be removed to encourage the production of more flowers. If these dead heads are left the plant will put it’s energy into producing seeds. Unless you want seeds it’s best to remove dead heads. The quickest and simplest method is to twist them off with your fingers, but the best way is to use secateurs and cut back to the next growth bud. If you want to collect your own seeds, wait till the seed heads go brown then pick them and dry them, then crush the head to release the seeds, label them and store them in a paper bag in a dry location until ready to sow.

Roses

Remove any dead flower heads unless it’s a once only flowering rose and you want the hips for decoration or jam. If you’ve started a spray program it’s best to continue spraying regularly as the weather permits.
Check the soil remains moist, and water as needed to get more flowers. Remove weeds, while they’re small.
Sow seeds of: ageratum, alyssum, aquilegia, arctotis, bellis, calceolaria, canytuft, calendula, Canterbury Bells, carnation, cineraria, cornflower, cyclmen, delphinium, dianthus, everlasting daisy, forget-me-not, galardia, godetia, gypsophila, holyhock, honesty, impatiens, larkspur, linaria, livingston daisy, lobelia, lupin, french marigold, mignonoette, nemisia, nemophila, nigella, painted daisy, pansy, polyanthus, poor mans orchid, iceland poppy, primula, scabosia, snap dragon, spider flower, statice, stock, strawflower, sweet pea, verbena, viola, Virginian stock, wallflower.
Plant seedlings of: ageratum, alyssum, aquilegia, arctotis, bellis, calceolaria, canytuft, calendula, Canterbury Bells, cineraria, cornflower, cyclmen, delphinium, dianthus, everlasting daisy, forget-me-not, galardia, godetia, gypsophila, holyhock, honesty, impatiens, larkspur, linaria, livingston daisy, lobelia, lupin, french marigold, mignoette, nasturtium, nemisia, nemophila, nigella, pansy, polyanthus, poor mans orchid, iceland poppy, primula, scabosia, snap dragon, spider flower, statice, stock, strawflower, sweet pea, verbena, viola, Virginian stock, wallflower.

Trees and Shrubs jobs for March Gardening New Zealand

Trim your hedges if needed to allow some fresh growth before winter.

Lawn jobs for March Gardening New Zealand.

Sowing new areas of lawn can be done providing you are able to water regularly to keep the soil moist. It’s a good idea to rotary hoe areas where new grass is to sown to provide a good depth of loose soil for new roots.
Mow existing lawn as required depending on the growth. The grass should be between 20 to 25 mm after you’ve cut it. It’s a good time now to control lawn weeds now before they get a chance to spread. You can either spot spray or brush on herbicide or digging them out.

Compost jobs for March Gardening New Zealand

Turn your compost heaps so organic matter gets evenly decomposed. Continue building heaps and when they consist of predominantly unrecognisable matter they are ready to be spread around bare soil as a mulch, or dug into the soil.
Make new compost heaps by incorporating dead leaves, grass clippings, vegetable scraps with a sprinkling of lime and animal manure etc.

 

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