Our District

May

It’s Planting Season!

See how fast the grass is growing? From now until June is a great window of planting opportunity. Warm, moist soil means new plants can establish roots over winter, and be ready for droughts next summer.

What to plant now: Most perennials and evergreens, including natives. Deciduous fruit trees can wait until mid-winter, when they are dormant - and anything frost-tender can wait until spring.

How to plant:

  • Dig a hole larger than the root ball, fill with water and let it drain.
  • Put a bit of wet newspaper in the bottom of the hole.
  • If the plant is dry, totally submerge it in a bucket of water until bubbles stop rising.
  • Loosen roots if needed.
  • Add a handful of sheep pellets if you have them, or some compost, to the bottom of the hole and backfill with soil, pressing firmly with hands or feet.
  • Water to settle the soil, and mulch thickly to retain that moisture.

Drought-tolerant poppies, statice, lychnis, alstroemeria and pelargoniums

Gazania, aeonium `Schwartzkopf', `Dark delight’ flax and natuve euphoria

 

We asked Kāpiti nursery people for their top drought-resistant plants:

Bulbs: Like camels, these store water for dry periods.

Hot, dry spots: Proteas, leucodendron, bottlebrush, ngaio.

Smaller plants (also good for pots):Succulents: sedum, aloe; lavender, grasses, rosemary, Pimelia, Xeronema, Chinocloa (mini toetoe).

Dune conditions: try natives like muehlenbeckia, spinifex, Coprosma repens (taupata), Coprosma acerosa, Coprosma rhamnoides, manuka, flax.  Check out the booklet `A Guide to Growing Native Plants in Kāpiti’ (on Council’s website)

Dry shade: These can be the trickiest areas. Try rengarenga, Astelia, Muttonbird sedge Carex trifida, Kawakawa.

Windy, exposed areasNgaio, harakeke/flax, taupata, silver-leaved Brachyglottis greyii, Marlborough Daisy, Xeronema.

Flowers: Kangaroo paw Anigozanthus; Lamb’s ear Stachys byzantina; Lavender; Iris spp; Gypsophila; Sedum; Alstroemeria; Gazania, Osteospermum, Verbena bonariensis, Grevillea, Wallflowers.

Annuals: many will self sow. Lychnis, hollyhocks, Echium, Calendula, Coreopsis, poppies of all kinds.

Roses: Rugosa (eg Roseraie de l’Hay, Blanc Double de Coubert) and gallica roses originate in dry sandy conditions, and are fragrant and tough.

Herbs: Many herbs, especially those originating around the Mediterranean, are well suited to dry conditions; in fact over-rich soil shortens their lives. Rosemary, lavender, thyme, sage, chives, oregano, lemon verbena, lemon balm, bay, pineapple sage.

 

In the edible garden:

Broad beans

Sow: There’s a small window left for sowing carrots and beetroot. Sow lettuce, miner’s lettuce, coriander and broad beans. Grow microgreens on a sunny windowsill.  Sow green crops like lupin in any spare ground.

Plant: Fennel, garlic, beetroot, celery, winter greens- bok choy, lettuce, miners lettuce, land cress, silver beet. Snow peas and Asian greens such as mizuna and bok choi are more cold tolerant than their relatives, fat-pod peas or cabbages.

Broad Beans: Anzac Day is the traditional time to sow broad beans (according to my grandfather). These cold-season plants are pretty bombproof and make a great beginner’s crop from seed. They also enrich the soil by `fixing’ nitrogen from the air.  Plant 5cm deep, 15cm apart,  in rows 30cm apart.

Garlic: Can be planted throughout May or June (the earlier you plant it, the earlier your harvest and the sooner you can use beds for other summer crops).

Prepare beds by weeding well, adding compost and a dusting of lime and potash or wood ash. The more you put in to the soil, the better your crop will be.

  • Choose the fattest, healthiest bulbs you can find – spindly ones will never come to much.
  • Space 10- 20cm apart. Poke a hole with a stick and pop in the bulb so its tip is just at the surface (make sure you get them the right way up).
  • Mulch with a light airy mulch like pea straw
  • Liquid feed with seaweed once a month.

Strawberries: Plant now for early crops.

 

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 296 4700 or at greengardener@kapiticoast.govt.nz

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