Sow now to enjoy summer harvest

CHILL: Tomato seeds sown at this time of year should really be grown indoors in the early stages, as winter weather can really hamper their growth.

CHILL: Tomato seeds sown at this time of year should really be grown indoors in the early stages, as winter weather can really hamper their growth.

Tomatoes can usually be purchased as semi-advanced seedlings, however, it is also possible to raise plants from seeds. Seeds sown now will produce plants that will have fruit in early to mid-summer.

Seeds sown now will probably benefit from being grown indoors in the early stages, in order to avoid colder temperatures that would slow their growth. Sowing the seeds in a seed raising mixture that has been placed into a smaller container, such as a recycled yoghurt container, will allow for ease of movement.

If “biodegradable” containers are preferred, these can be made by wrapping empty toilet rolls in paper, filling them with soil and then placing them into something like an ice-cream container.

When it is time to place the plant into the ground or a large pot, the whole container can be placed into the soil, where the toilet roll wrapper will decompose. The containers can be placed onto a window sill, where they will receive warmth and light.

Two or three seeds should be placed into each pot. When the plants have started to grow, the weaker plants can be thinned out to allow the other seedling to develop into a strong plant. Once the container is full of roots, the plant can be moved into a slightly larger container.

As the pots become too large to remain on the window sill, they can be moved to a sheltered, warmer position outdoors. It is important to keep up an adequate supply of water up to the plants.

If nights are very cool, it may be advisable to cover the plants with a cover made by removing the bottom from a larger plastic drink container.

WINTER GARDENS

Winter gardens are traditionally devoid of much colour. However, there are native plants that flower during the cooler, winter months.

Purple Fan Flower

Purple Fan Flower

Growing wildflowers in a mass will assist in keeping weeds down while requiring little attention. The flowers will provide a welcome source for nectar and insect-feeding birds, butterflies and other insects.

Purple Fan Flower (Scaevola aemula) is a fast-growing ground cover, although varieties that grow taller are also available. The bright blue flowers, in a fan shape, are produced in large numbers through the year.

Plants tolerate adverse conditions and are suitable for growing near the seaside. They will also grow quite well in areas of light frost and drought. Scaevola are most suitable for growing in pots or hanging baskets.

Crowea plants form a low, arching plant or mounding ground cover. Pink flowers, in a variety of shades, cover the plants from summer through early winter. Croweas grow well in full sun to partial shade, and are attractive to native bees and butterflies. 

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