James Manswer Custom Picture FramingThe garden may be looking a bit empty at this time of the year but there is plenty to do in preparation for the coming season.

Clear out and weed garden beds that are not in use and prepare them for next season by covering them with horse poo. You could cover the horse poo in old carpet until early August to keep the weeds down and give the good bugs in the soil some shelter to do their work. It has been suggested that the chemicals from the carpet may contaminate the soil so an alternative like pea straw, grass clippings or bark chip might be a better option if you have access to it.

If your winter veges are being eaten by snails or slugs faster than you can eat them yourself try this trick that I came across recently. Get an ice cream container, cut some holes in the side and put some slug pallets in it. Put the lid on and place it in the garden. The bait won’t get wet, will last longer and more importantly the chemicals from the bait won’t go into the ground and into your vege’s. Also a good excuse to eat more ice cream!

Prune fruit trees. Now that you can get a good look at them, cut out any dead wood and open up the centre of the trees to allow good light and air flow. There are specific techniques on where to cut fruiting branches depending on the type of trees you have. I would suggest that you look up the requirements for each tree to ensure you prune them in a way that will give you the best fruit next season.

Prepare you Garlic bed. The general rule of thumb for growing garlic is to put it in on the shortest day, only a month or so away, and harvest it on the longest day. Garlic for growing can be obtained from the vege department in your supermarket or better still from an organic garden market stall. Ensure you use NZ grown garlic. Take the individual cloves off the bulb and use the largest for planting. Plant the cloves in a sunny spot about two inches into the ground, pointed end up, with plenty of space around each bulb. They will sprout through the ground within about a month and be ready to harvest after the tops die down about mid January. Garlic is also a good companion plant for most other vege’s.

Storing Veges To Make Them Last

Since you have gone to so much trouble to grow them, or if you have purchased them, you want to make sure your vege’s are stored well. If they are in the garden pick them as you need them. I came across the following tips for storing veges, in the local rag.

Put (dry)potato’s in a large paper bag, not plastic, and keep them in a dark cool environment. Keep the growing tops on pumpkins and keep them in a dry place. After cutting them they last well in the fridge if covered in glad wrap.

Store carrots in an airtight container with a paper towel. Broccoli and celery will also last well in the fridge. Give it a rinse under the tap, shake off excess water wrap it in paper towels and store in a zip lock bag. Iceberg lettuce will last well in a lettuce crisper (airtight plastic container with a tray in the bottom).

If using half an avocado leave the stone in the other half, put glad wrap on it and put it in the fridge.

Cook up any left over tomatoes with onion, garlic, courgettes, peppers. Cook onions and garlic first in a little oil then add all the other vege’s. Dont add water. Let it reduce down then freeze it in suitable batch sizes. Makes a great base for and easy winter soups, stew, mince or casserole. I like to peel the tomato’s first by putting them in boiling water for a few minutes then cold water. The skins will come off easily.