We answer your spring gardening questions

Need help in the garden?  The team at Kings Plant Barn are here to help

I want to grow my vegetables from seeds this year. What’s the best way to guarantee success?
There is nothing like growing your own fruit and vegetables from seeds, but failure is easy if you don’t follow the simple rules of gardening. Even before buying your seeds, make a list of what you want to plant and research how to look after each one, including how to avoid pests and diseases.  Always buy seeds, instead of growing from seeds found in supermarket veggies. This is because many of these come from hybrid plants – any seeds from these will not produce the same quality of produce.  Most veggies and fruit need full sun in free-draining soil, need frequent watering (in the morning is best), and need fertiliser. These are the things a plant can’t go without, so make sure these are covered, and you are guaranteed success.

Is there a way I can keep caterpillars from ravaging my vegetables without killing them?
Yes, there is. A no-kill and no-spray option for veggies is to cover them straight after planting with bug netting. This is a fine netting that keeps out all types of insects, (including butterflies, preventing them from laying their eggs on plants) and can be reused again and again. Just make sure it is securely propped up with stakes and fixed to the ground with garden pins to fully protect your plants.

How can I get rid of the dreaded tradescantia fluminensis from my garden without harming my pets?
Tradescantia fluminensis aka wandering willy can be distressing as it is fastgrowing and can cause skin irritation in dogs. With pets around, we suggest removing the plants by hand, disposing
of it in your green waste bin (do not compost it), then using an organic weedkiller on the remains. This is safe to use around pets, but will need repeat applications.

What are the best plants to grow in a coastal garden?
There are quite a few plants that do well in coastal areas, so it depends what sort of garden you are after.  For tall trees or screening plants, try planting cabbage trees, pōhutukawa, olive trees, puka, kōwhai and banksia.  If you were after hedging or medium-sized shrubs select corokia, coprosma, griselinia, hebe and flax work a treat, as well as bottlebrush (callistemon), conebrushes  (leucadendron), rosemary, echium, hibiscus and pittosporum.  And coastal colour can consist of daylilies, lavender, canna lily, osteospermum, bougainvillaea, sedum, ice plants, nasturtium,  Californian poppy and portulaca to name a few.

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