Northern Outlook : July 5th 2014
NORTHERN OUTLOOK, JULY 5, 2014 13 Not always out of date By VIRGIL EVETTS DO A STOCKTAKE OF YOUR SEED PACKET SUPPLY All commercially packaged seeds have an expiry date, after which the supplier won’t guarantee germination. This shelf-life of seeds varies between species and can range from a few months to many years. However, just because the expiry date has been and gone, there’s no reason to assume the worst – within reason. Seed expiry dates are generally conservative estimates and may allow for quite a bit of leeway. To test their viability, scatter a few suspect seeds on a small piece of damp tissue or cotton wool inside a labelled milk bottle lid. Cover it with cling film and leave it in a warm spot, out of direct sunlight. For most annual food crops, if germination has not occurred within a fortnight, it can safely be assumed the seeds are past their best and should be thrown into the rubbish bin. You might be surprised, though, at just how long some seeds remain viable and ready to spring into life. BE PREPARED FOR SLOW – OR NO GROWTH Plant growth can be painfully slow for several weeks either side of the winter solstice. This is because temperatures are low and daylight hours few, meaning plants are in no hurry to do anything much. Hang in there, though, because once the days start to extend – even by just a few minutes – growth often resumes. Onions, shallots, leeks and spring onions are prone to mid-winter sluggishness, but usually make up for it promptly thereafter. DO THE ANNUAL BIRD SURVEY IN YOUR GARDEN Landcare Research is running its annual Gar- den Bird Survey, finishing tomorrow. To participate, all you need to do is record the number of each bird species you spot over a 60-minute period. You don’t have to be able to see your whole property, just a part of your garden. To find out more and to download the survey form, visit landcareresearch.co.nz. Data can be entered online via the website or posted back to the address on the survey form. Happy bird-watching! ■ This column is adapted from the weekly e-zine Get Growing from New Zealand Gardener magazine. For a free sample visit getgrowing.co.nz or to subscribe visit mags4gifts.co.nz or call 0800 MAGS4GIFTS.
July 2nd 2014
July 9th 2014