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.
Time to divide your rhubarb
According to Lynda Hallinan in her Get Growing with NZ Gardener weekly email newsletter, this is the time of year to divide your rhubarb.
Ideally, use a garden fork to lift the plant, then break it into sections using a spade. A machete may work too.
Often the central section which did most of the growing last season will be exhausted: put it in the compost heap.
Replant the sections with lots of compost and some manure if you have it.
If you now have more plants than you need, why not pot up and swap some of the extra plants for another plant you can use? Swap with friends, or on Ooooby, or the next HOGs (Hamilton Organic Gardeners) meeting, or through the 'Crop Swap' section of the Get Growing newsletter.
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Propagating Potatoes (Solanum tuberosum)
Origin: South America
Potatoes developed in a temperate climate so are sensitive to frost. To get an earlier crop, we start by sprouting (also called chitting) them under cover during winter as early as July. You can continue planting potatoes until December.
Place the seed potatoes in a shallow tray in a dry, sheltered sunny, spot. An egg carton is ideal, keeping them separate, dry and you can put the lid down to give the potatoes some additional protection on frosty nights. You can cut large potatoes into sections with 3 or 4 eyes each, but make sure the cut is exposed to the air and dries out thoroughly.
When the sprouts are about 1 cm long, rub off all but 2 or 3 of the strongest ones. This will take about 4-6 weeks.
Your potatoes then need to be acclimatized to the cooler outside temperatures, or ‘hardened off’. Move them outside but under cover, such as under an evergreen tree or porch for a few days. (Seedlings grown under cover need the same hardening off process before planting.)
There is information about planting and growing your sprouted potatoes under the Growing discussion.
Ma'ara and I cut up the white grape prunings that were given away at Peter's McNaughton's workshop (July 2012) and potted them up: they have budded up nicely - thanks Peter!
Always label your new plants - it is easy to forget what you have planted and when. River Cottage use wooden clothes pegs to label their pots and microgreens.
Bethy White (some of us visited her garden near Otorohanga) did some experiments and found that writing on your labels in soft pencil would last much longer under our strong NZ sun than when you use pen - and you can reuse the label!