Gardening Guide

Sweet Corn

Sweet Corn

Sweet Corn is another one of those vegetables that tastes so much better picked and cooked fresh. Sweet Corn must be grown in a sunny spot sheltered from strong wind. As the plants are wind pollinated they should be grown in blocks with the plants 25cm apart.

Sowing:

Sow at 18-21°C. The plants hate root disturbance so sow indoors from August in peat pots; setting the seeds 2.5cm deep. Otherwise sow seed directly into the garden from October. Sow two seeds one inch 2.5cm deep, 25cm apart in rows 50cm apart; remove the weakest seedling.

Growing:

Plant out indoor-raised plants early October depending on the weather. Stake tall varieties if the position is windy. When roots appear at the base of the stem cover with soil. Water well in dry weather; this is vital when the plants are flowering. Liquid feed when the cobs begin to swell. Tap the tops of the plants when the male flowers (tassels) open to help pollination; poor pollination will result in poorly filled cobs. Many varieties of corn should not be grown close together as cross-pollination can occur.

Varieties:

Early Extra Sweet F1, Kelvedon Glory, Snow Gold F1.

Harvesting:

Test for ripeness when the tassels have turned chocolate brown; squeeze a grain between thumbnail and fingernail - if a watery liquid squirts out then it is unripe, if it is creamy the cob is ready. Twist the ripe cob from the stem.

Growing Swede & Turnip

Swede

Swedes are an easy crop to grow, maturing over the winter months. Mashed swede with butter and black pepper is delicious.

Sowing:

Sow seeds 5mm deep in rows 38-45cm apart from September through May, but avoid hottest months in warmer regions.

Growing:

Thin out the seedlings when large enough to handle leaving plants 25cm apart. Water during dry periods but try to keep the soil evenly moist to prevent cracking and corky growth.

Varieties:

Best of All.

Harvesting:

Start lifting the roots once they are large enough to use.




Turnip

Turnip is a very versatile vegetable - it can be harvested when mature or young, cooked or eaten raw and the young tops can be used like spring greens. They are quick to mature and easy to grow.

Sowing:

Sow 5mm deep from September through to March, but avoid hottest months in warmer regions.

Growing:

Thin out turnips grown for their roots until they are eventually 15cm apart for early crops, or 20cm apart for maincrop varieties. Water during dry weather or the roots will be small and woody.

Varieties:

Early Purple

Harvesting:

Pull the turnips when the size of a golf ball for eating raw, the size of a tennis ball for cooking.

Growing Pumpkin, Squash & Zucchini

Pumpkin, Squash & Zucchini

All these crops are closely related - often confusingly so, and are grown in the same way. They need a sunny position, a moisture-retentive soil and somewhere out of cold winds.

Sowing:

Sow 2-3 seeds 12mm deep direct into the garden or in seedlng trays September to December. Transplant in the garden once the risk of frost has passed. Thin seedlings to leave the strongest one.

Growing:

Make planting pockets 2ft (60cm) apart for bush varieties or 4ft (1.2m) For trailing varieties, two weeks before seed sowing or planting out. Fill the 30cm (12in) square and deep pockets with a mixture of compost or well-rotted manure and soil; leave a low mound at the top of the planting medium. Sprinkle a general fertiliser over the soil. Covering the soil with black polythene will help growth and keep the fruit off the soil. The fruit of marrows and pumpkins should be supported on a piece of tile or glass. Pinch out the tips of the main shoots of trailing varieties when they are 2ft (60cm) long. Keep the soil constantly moist by watering around the plants, not over them. Feed every 10-14 days with a high potash liquid fertiliser once the first fruits start to swell.

Varieties:

Zucchini: Black Beauty, Blackjack, GoldrushGreenskin, Lebanese, Gourmet Mix.
Pumpkin: Butternut, Golden Nugget, JapJarrahdale, Queensland Blue, Whangaparoa Crown.
Squash: Mixed Buttons

Harvesting:

Harvest squashes when the fruit is still quite small. For pumpkins let the fruit mature on the plant and remove before the first frost.