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Hastings Leader - 2021-05-05

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Flower power

GARDENING

Sweet peas are delightful and popular plants that combine delicate and very pretty flowers with a beautiful fragrance. St Patrick’s Day (March 17) has been the traditional day to sow sweet peas, however it’s often best to wait for cooler conditions in April to sow them. In warmer areas, sow sweet peas later still in May. There are sweet pea varieties to suit most climates and gardens, whether you want to cover a fence, have room in a garden bed for a tepee or fill a container or hanging basket on a sunny veranda or balcony. Yates Sweet Pea Old Fashioned is a traditional favourite with large, ruffled and heavily perfumed blooms well into spring. Here are a few of the most popular larger sweet pea varieties: ■ Blue Reflections has beautiful blue, mauve and white flowers. ■ Pink Diana has large fragrant pink blooms with long stems. ■ And a smaller variety that are perfect for pots: Bijou Semi Dwarf is a low growing bush variety with brilliantly coloured blooms. Follow these easy steps to create a beautiful sweet pea display: Sow seed around 25 mm deep into a garden bed or pot, firm down and water in well. If your soil is acidic (has a low pH) also apply some Yates Hydrangea Pinking Liquid Lime Dolomite. This will help to raise the soil pH (make it more alkaline), which sweet peas prefer. Only water again sparingly until seedlings emerge in around two weeks’ time. Too-moist soil can lead to the seeds rotting. Protect from slugs and snails with Yates Blitzem Slug Snail Pellets. Once the seedlings are around 5cm tall, start feeding each week with Yates Thrive Roses Flowers Liquid Plant Food. This fastacting complete fertiliser provides nitrogen for healthy leaf growth, phosphorus for strong root development and potassium for lots of lovely flowers. Tall varieties will need to be grown on a frame, trellis or tepee. Young seedlings may need to be supported with small twigs or bamboo skewers until they can reach their trellis. Sweet peas take around 12-14 weeks to flower. Don’t forget to cut handfuls of deliciously scented flowers for a vase. Dead-head frequently to prolong flowering. Time to sow Flanders Poppies November 11 will commemorate the centenary of Armistice Day, which is the date when the First World War ended in 1918. It is a time to reflect on the sacrifices made by Australians and New Zealanders in wars and conflicts. Often recognised as the emblem of Remembrance and Anzac Days, Flanders Poppies have a beautiful rich red flower with a dark center. You can create your own Flanders Poppy display at home, by sowing Yates Poppy Flanders Red seed during autumn. The poppies will flower around 20 weeks after sowing. Here are some tips to help create a patch of gorgeous poppies: In a sunny location out in the garden, enrich the soil with some Yates Dynamic Lifter Organic Plant Food. It’s a rich source of organic matter that will help improve the structure of the soil, encourage earthworms and beneficial microorganisms and provide the establishing seedlings with gentle, slow release organic nutrients to promote good early growth. Scatter seed direct into the garden where the poppies are to grow, as they don’t transplant well. Cover lightly with some Yates Black Magic Seed Raising Mix so the seeds are only around 3mm deep. Water the area gently after sowing and keep the soil moist as the seedlings establish. It will take 10-14 days for the seedling to pop up. Once the seedlings are a few weeks old, you can start to feed them each week with a high potassium plant food such as Yates Thrive Flower Fruit Soluble Fertiliser, which encourages healthy growth and helps promote lots of flowers. To help create bushier, stronger poppies, pinch out early buds. Yates Flanders Red Poppy can also be sown into pots filled with a quality potting mix such as Yates Premium Potting Mix. ■ For more information and gardening ideas visit yates.co.nz

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