Propagation = making new plants.
The cheapest way to grow your own vegetables is to grow them from seed, especially if you have saved the seed from last year's plants. Other ways of propagating plants include taking cuttings, division and grafting.
At the Growing Your Own Vegetables from Seed workshop for WIC members you had the opportunity to:
• Identify what is needed (mix, pots, seeds) to start raising plants from seed
• Learn about making home made seed raising mix
• Learn what seeds are appropriate to sow now
• Sow some seeds in punnets
• See a range of containers for growing vegetables & the type of plants suited to grow in them
• Look at a home made cold frame, learning how to make and use one.
Thank you to the Salvation Army for providing the hall free of charge, and to the Hamilton Organic Centre for supplying seed mix.
If you missed the Grow Your Own Vegetables From Seed workshops run by Clare Jackson of Green Footprint, you can at least download the handouts below. The 'more information' handout was prepared by WIC.
If you would like the workshop to be repeated, please let Kathryn know, ph (07) 834-1482
When you are raising a lot of seedlings, it is usual to use large seed trays, often called flats: basically a shallow box.
Most plant nurseries use plastic ones, but they are hard to get for the home gardener. Traditionally flats were made from wood, like the ones I photographed recently in a local gardener's greenhouse (left).
When Cheryl & Mike from the Permaculture Trust demonstrated how to make compost bins from free recycled pallets (untreated timber), they suggested using some of the off-cuts to make flats.
Sam Wilson (Global Institute for Appropriate Technology) recommends making trays about 14 inches by 12 inches by 6 inches. "Leave about 1/8 inch gap between the bottom boards so extra water can drain out, and then cover this base with newspapers or a thin layer of leaves to keep the soil from draining out."
The flats would also make a nice gift for a fellow gardener.
One of the key skills for gardening for little money is to know how to propagate (make new plants) from old plants. This includes seed saving and growing new plants from cuttings or by division.
Click on the link below to download the WIC handout about propagating plants from cuttings, division, etc.
Some key points about cuttings:
(Photo: preparing a cutting using secateurs)
Someone was asking where to get herb seeds and plants in NZ. These are just a few suggestions - there are many herb specialists, often selling by mail order:
*TIP* Some of the herbs you may be familiar with may grow wild here, so no one will bother to sell the seed! If you can't find what you are looking for ask at a nursery or browse one of the many books on NZ weeds/wildflowers - the public library has several.
When you are harvesting brassicas like cabbages, harvest just the top portion, leaving the growing stem and a few leaves. With time, it will sprout again and produce another small cabbage or three at no extra cost...
Remember that brassicas are gross feeders: they will grow better if you give them a feed with a little extra compost, rotted manure or liquid fertiliser.
Photos: Red cabbages re-sprouting.
Bok Choy or Chinese cabbage (Brassica rapa chinensis) is flowering in my garden at the moment.
Rather than cutting off the whole plant as you see in the shops, I harvest the outer leaves as I need them so it keeps growing.
I have left two of my best plants to flower: the seed will provide my next crop.
While that happens, the insects and I enjoy the bright yellow flowers!
Where to buy herb plants
Anita was asking where to get lemongrass plants as she could not get them from the supermarket. To buy less common herb plants, you are best to go to a garden specialist - a garden centre or nursery. Many of the hardware shops include a plant section - eg Bunnings, Mitre10. The best selection is from specialist garden centres. They are listed in the Yellow Pages of the telephone book under 'Garden Centres & Nurseries'. A couple in Hamilton include:
Remember that herbs are often grown from cuttings (part of a branch) or by division, so if you know a friend with a herb you are interested in, see if you can swap something...
Lemongrass can be propagated by division. It is native to India and Sri Lanka - both hot countries. Some people in the Waikato say that lemongrass grows like a weed in their gardens, while others would only grow it in a warm place in a pot. It can tolerate down to -2 degrees Celsius and likes full sun, high humidity and well drained soil. It can go dormant (look dead) in winter - the dead leaves will help protect the roots from frost, so wait to trim the plant back until early spring. Trim to about 15 cm high to encourage new fresh growth.