Food Growing Q&A

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Latest Activity: Jan 23, 2022

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Discussion Forum

Tree collards 9 Replies

Hi, just wanting to know if anybody in NZ is growing/supplying tree collards which apparently are difficult to grow from seed, mainly sold as cuttings, and produce greens all year round.Continue

Started by Hayden Cowper. Last reply by Ross Jury Jan 23, 2022.

Bilberry 3 Replies

Can you grow Bilberry in NZ and if you can does  anyone know where you can but the plant?

Started by Caroline Wilkinson. Last reply by Paul Zielinski Jul 31, 2017.

Broccoli Heads 1 Reply

Hi, the last couple of times we planted broccoli the heads spreaded and flowered instead of staying the shape you normally see.What can be done to make them grow properly?ThanksContinue

Started by Nicolas Santini. Last reply by Kali Jan 31, 2016.

Asparagus crowns 9 Replies

Hey everyone,Could someone tell me what time of year you can get asparagus crowns and where from? I had little success from seed last year and want to make up some time and get crowns planted this…Continue

Started by Laine. Last reply by Ingrid Ennis Jan 6, 2016.

Borer in persimmon tree

The top half of one of my persimmon trees snapped off over the weekend due to some evil little borer or similar that had been munching away inside. Any tips on how to save the rest of the tree (now…Continue

Started by Karen Swainson Nov 16, 2015.


Hi Does anyone know where I can find seed in NZ for these squash?GaryContinue

Started by Gary Burgess Nov 7, 2015.

Growing veggies in containers 10 Replies

I have never grown veggies in little containers before but I am planning on upcycling some of my tin cans for this purpose (I currently use cans for all sorts of other uses such as candles, pen…Continue

Started by Vickie. Last reply by Julie Smith Sep 23, 2015.

Harvesting Bananas 8 Replies

We have a bunch of bananas on our plant. The ones at the top are quite fat, but lower down the bunch they are smaller. Would it work if we cut some of the top ones to ripen inside and left the lower…Continue

Tags: harvesting, bananas

Started by Hester. Last reply by TK Jun 12, 2015.

Oxalis Garden Bed...

Ok, I have decided to try again with a garden bed that is filled with Oxalis. I have tried digging out the soil and filling with fresh compost a couple of times over the last few years but it comes…Continue

Started by Charlotte Oct 30, 2014.

Asparagus from seed 6 Replies

Does anyone have experience with growing asparagus from seed. I planted them 4 weeks ago, have kept them moist and warm in a greenhouse, but thus far have one 1cm sprout. I was about to empty the…Continue

Started by Laine. Last reply by Laine Dec 21, 2013.

Comfrey root - how small can I cut it up? 5 Replies

Just received a pack of comfrey root in the post from Koanaga and will pot it up this weekend. I was thinking of cutting up the pieces so they are about 1cm long each. Does that sound big enough for…Continue

Started by Laine. Last reply by Shona Cullen Sep 6, 2013.

What is the best low cost Mulch 20 Replies

Any recomendations? Pea straw is expensive. How about shredded paper? Will this rot down quickly enough? It is for my veg bed and eventually I want to be able to dig it in. Why is pea straw so…Continue

Started by Samantha Freeman. Last reply by Tammi Jun 30, 2013.

about broad beans 5 Replies

I sowed broad beans this March (As I ususally do).  They usually grow slowly during winter for me and I get an early crop in spring.  This year they are already flowering!! So ... I do not know…Continue

Started by Luisa Beltran Castillon. Last reply by Rex Morris Jun 25, 2013.

Possums 1 Reply

Kia ora,What ways does everyone recommend keeping possums off newly planted fruit trees? I will be trapping, but am interest in what methods and/or products people use to stop them climbing up onto…Continue

Started by Laine. Last reply by Maree W Jun 3, 2013.

Grapes and Kiwifruit

Hi Everyone,I have some grape and kiwifruit plants being delivered soon and I need to get the fencing up. I have purchased all the materials, but would like some advice on some details.For grapes,…Continue

Started by Laine Jun 2, 2013.

Red and blackcurrant cuttings - plant now? 4 Replies

I have currant cuttings that I stuck into small pots in summer.They have sprouted a few health leaves each now. See pix attached.Is it okay to put them in the ground in autumn? Will planting them…Continue

Started by Lay. Last reply by Lay May 27, 2013.

What fruiting plants like wet feet? 5 Replies

Hi all,I am designing a food forest  and have an area that will be quite damp in winter. The ground is reasonable free draining, and I will add a small surface drain with pebbles in it, but it is the…Continue

Started by Laine. Last reply by Laine May 15, 2013.

Growing figs in containers 11 Replies

Does anyone have advice on:- how big a container I should plant a fig in if I want a fairly good tree, but to limit the root growth?- What sort of containers can be recycled for this use?- how big…Continue

Started by Laine. Last reply by Julia Sich May 7, 2013.

Where can I get elderberry trees? 39 Replies

I know they grow from cuttings and by suckering- but where can i GET these? I am happy to buy and to pay all costs etc in order to procure a dozencuttings...

Started by Teeli. Last reply by Teeli Mar 7, 2013.

Help! Birds are getting my elderberries! 9 Replies

I love having birds in my garden- I don't use chemicals of any kind in order to encourage the wildlife... and I don't mind sharing my fruit and vegetables with the do i get to keep…Continue

Started by Teeli. Last reply by Teeli Jan 28, 2013.

Comment Wall


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Comment by Yvonne Nikolaison on November 30, 2011 at 2:48pm
Question, when do you know gooseberries are ready for picking?
Comment by Jane Maarie on March 3, 2011 at 9:02am
Thanks for that Richard. I have some Pukekohe Long Keeper seed which I got from Koanga, I will give that a go. :O)
Comment by Richard Grevers on March 2, 2011 at 12:48pm
Hi Jane,
Onions are more or less biennial: if you plant "sprouted" onion bulbs, they will develop seed stalks. Onions are day-length sensitive - bulb growth only happens above a minimum number of daylight hours (depending on the variety) - so you won't get winter growth. 180 - 240 days to maturity. You can plant seed densely in trays any time between now and July (September in cool climates) and will have seedlings to plant out in after 6 weeks. However, it is said that onions direct-sown then thinned are better keepers than those grown from seedlings. Last spring my onion patch got overgrown and I actually transplanted a second time to clean up - it worked. They are gross feeders but not too much nitrogen.
Comment by Jane Maarie on March 2, 2011 at 10:02am

I so hope these are not silly questions but....... I want to grow big red onions & brown onions as I have never done so before.

How do I start? Do I buys some onions, wait for them to sprout then plant?  Do you take off all the outer skin or leave it on? Do they take as long as garlic? I have read that it is a long process growing it from seed. Is this the right month to plant them or am I too late? Please help anyone. Thanks in advance.

Comment by Kiwi Lover on January 28, 2011 at 11:52pm

This is what I found after a bit of googling - seems quite good!


Watermelons: It is extremely difficult to tell if a watermelon is ripe by just looking; it must be examined. Watermelons will not continue to ripen after harvest. Hold the harvested fruits at 50 degrees to 60 degrees F. Here are indications you can look for: 

1. Thump it. If the watermelon sounds hollow (if you hear a dull thump/thud), the melon is usually ripe. This is difficult for less-gifted ears. The unripe melon will have a tighter, metallic ringing or hollow sound. This technique is not perfect however, because the dull sound you hear doesn't indicate if the melon is overripe. 

2. Use the criteria of approximate size for variety,

3. Ceasing of growth. 

4. Look at the color on the top. The watermelon is ripe when there is little contrast between the stripes. Another indication is when the surface color of the fruit turns dull. 

5. Look for the spot where the melon rested on the ground; a yellow-white, yellow or a cream-yellow color spot suggests ripeness and a white or pale green spot indicates immaturity. A green watermelon will have a white bottom; a ripe melon will have a cream- or yellow-colored bottom. Those fruit that show a change of color from green or olive-grey to yellowish brown should be considered ready to harvest. Also look for a breakup of green bands at the blossom end of the fruit. For best quality, walk the patch daily. 

6. The rind at the soil spot should toughen and resist denting with a fingernail when the melon is ripe. Scratch the surface of the rind with your thumbnail. If the outer layer slips back with little resistance, showing a green-white color under the rind, the watermelon is ripe. Feel for development of ribbed indentations that can be felt with finger tips. It should be firm but not a rock. If soft or soft spots it�s too far gone. Sponginess is bad.

7. Press on it. If the watermelon sounds like it gives a little, it's ripe. (This method can also ruin the quality of the fruit.)

8. Check the tendril. If the tendril is green, you should wait to pick the melon. Harvest when the curled tendril near the stem, the "pigtail" or tendril closest to the melon on the vine begins to shrivel and dry up. If it dries while the leaves and rest of the vine looks good, the melon should be ripe.

9. Harvest when a small crack appears in the stem just above the melon indicating the melon is ripe. If it's half-dead, it could mean that the watermelon is nearly ripe or ripe. If the tendril is fully dead, it could mean that anthracnose or some other fungus killed the melon, or that it's ripe or overripe. The drying of the stem tendril nearest the attachment point and green color tone are also indicators of ripeness. Sign vary with cultivars. 

10. Count the number of days from anthesis (flowering) or the number of days from planting. This works pretty well if you know the variety of watermelon and how many days it's supposed to take for that variety to ripen under normal temperature and fertilizer regimes.

11. The slipping of the stem from the melon with slight finger pressure is an excellent indicator of melon ripeness in the field. 

Hold a melon up to your ear, if you can feel it squeeze and hear a slight mush instead of a crack it is ripe. 

7 Check the size. It's not necessarily true that when a watermelon is big enough, it's ready; but under good conditions, it should be normal size. If it's not, you're probably too anxious.

8 Crack a few. You've got a whole field of watermelons, and you can practice a little, right?

9 Is the vine dead or dying? Well, the watermelon is not going to get any riper, so you might as well pick it

10. Rely on your nose, and look for a melon with the strongest fragrance, for this will most likely be the best tasting. Breath deeply and follow your nose to the sweet ripe melon. Sniff the aromatic one out. Next, look for a melon that is heavy for its size, because if you have two melons of equal size, the heavier one is almost assuredly the riper and better tasting melon. Smell is something you learn with experience.

11. Still confulsed? Guess. All indicators will not always work. Take your best shot and go with it.��


Comment by Jane Maarie on January 28, 2011 at 10:34pm
How do you tell if a watermelon is ripe & ready for picking? I have about 4 growing, all dark green & getting fat.  We all want to eat them now hehe but I don't want to ruin it if i'ts not ready.
Comment by Isabell Strange on January 26, 2011 at 10:01pm
If its not birds I wondered if it might be wasps they leave very smooth rounded ish holes often with their droppings left behind which readily turn mouldy? They have been causing my green peacherines to drop from the tree by nibbling around the stems.
Comment by Richard Grevers on January 26, 2011 at 12:34pm
Maybe provide a bird feeder with some food and water too, so the birds won't feel the need to attack your tomatoes?
Comment by Caroline Moore on January 26, 2011 at 9:32am
I got loads in the inorganic collection last year, a vineyard was chucking it out.  You could try asking a local vineyard...they seem to throw it out rather than mending holes.
Comment by moggy on January 26, 2011 at 8:25am
i got some from the warehouse last year, can't remember the price but I remember it was cheap. Using it to keep the chickens from eating the grapes this year.

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