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Rural Diary September
1 September 2019 External Supplier

Preparing your spring vege patch

As the days get longer and the soil starts to warm, it is time to dig out your garden gloves and get busy in the garden. Whether yours is a dedicated vege garden or a spot with a few crops in pots and containers, the time is right to prepare your soil, sow seeds, plant seedlings and begin this year’s journey up the garden path. 

Before you plant your chosen spring crops, it is important to ensure that your soil is in the right condition so that your plants get off to the best possible start. If you are starting with an existing garden bed dig in organic matter to your soil such as Tui Compost and Tui Blood & Bone. The addition of Tui Compost will replenish your soil with nutrients used during the growing season as well as help break up heavy or clay soil; improve drainage in compacted soil; and increase water holding capacity in sandy soil. Tui Blood & Bone is an essential garden ingredient that will promote healthy plant growth so your garden can perform at its peak. Adding blood & bone to your garden will provide a natural source of nitrogen for healthy plant growth, and phosphorus for strong root development. Both will also increase microbial activity and encourage earthworms. Once you have dug in the compost and blood & bone, add a layer of Tui Vegetable Mix, a high quality natural-based planting mix to provide your veges with the best possible start and sustained growth throughout the season.

Some spring favourites to plant include, lettuce, capsicum, tomatoes, parsley, courgette and cucumber or for cooler areas of the country carrots, broccoli, herbs, spring onions, beetroot, broad beans, leeks and silverbeet. If you are not sure what to plant, a good rule of thumb is to check out what is available at your local garden centre as that should reflect what is suitable to plant in your area. If you are a first-time gardener you may find it easier to grow from seedlings, rather than seed, although seeds can be a more economical option. If you are sowing vegetables from seed, you’ll need to plan ahead, to make sure they are ready to plant when you want to. Generally speaking, the best times to plant are early in the morning or late in the day, so your plants aren’t exposed to the hot sun straight away. It is important to remember to water your plants well before and after planting to help them get settled in their new patch. 

As plants grow they use up nutrients from the soil, so replenishing those nutrients ensures your plants will grow to their full potential. Veges can be particularly hungry crops, so feeding them every four weeks during the growing season will help ensure you maximise your crops. A well watered, well nourished vegetable garden will have a better chance of keeping insect pests and diseases at bay. 
Spring is a great time to start getting your piece of paradise prepped for summer BBQs. Liven up your deck or patio with some potted colour and use Tui All Purpose Potting Mix, which is specially formulated to give the best start to your indoor and outdoor plants in pots, containers and hanging baskets. 

Pop into your local PGG Wrightson store to view the full range of Tui products today. Happy Gardening!

Supplied by Tui Products

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Related Articles

Getting the best from your new pastures

01 September 2019

Getting your pastures to perform is a proven path to profitability because pasture is usually your cheapest form of feed. How you manage the critical establishment and grazing of your new pasture influences how it regrows and even its long-term persistence.

As the ryegrass and clover emerge from the soil, any damage from pests can have a large impact. Monitor for any damage to emerging plants, and if you see some damage, then be sure to identify the cause and treat accordingly. Seed treatment can be a useful tool to help protect the emerging seedling at this early stage. It is common to find that new pastures that are not getting up and going as quickly as you would expect are under insect pressure, so be sure to check out your pastures as they establish.

Another factor to consider when your new pasture first germinates are weeds. Weeds can strike during the key establishment phase of your new pasture and then compete with the pasture at this early stage. Identify any weeds early and treat as required. Small weeds are easier to control than larger weeds, so monitor your paddocks during the first couple of months after sowing when the weed seedlings are small.

Once your grass and clover plants start to grow, thoughts turn to grazing and when you can start to use this new pasture. Care needs to be taken with the first grazing because it helps set the plant up. The young plants are in a delicate state when they first emerge, and to get the best out of them, a few critical things need to happen.

Firstly, time the first grazing so the plant has three leaves. The number of leaves indicates the plant’s maturity and level of reserves. The plant builds reserves so it can regrow after having its leaf area grazed. 

Secondly, make sure the new pasture can withstand the pull test. Use your hand to simulate the animal grazing the grass. If the grass root systems are small and not able to hold onto the soil strongly, the plant will be pulled out of the ground (right-hand image below). If whole plants pull out of the ground, wait another week then give it another check. Grazing too early can result in loss of plants which reduce production. 

After establishing your new pasture and completing the first grazing, keep monitoring and grazing the young pasture to encourage tillering and production for years of service on your farm. Pasture is a critical part of New Zealand forage systems, and maximising the production and longevity of your pastures helps with the profitability of your farm.

If you are putting in a new pasture this season and would like some advice on what to sow and how to establish a new pasture, contact your local PGG Wrightson Technical Field Representative today.

Community connections

11 September 2019

The Wymer name is well respected in the Franklin district thanks to the family’s strong market gardening connections and their extensive support of local events such as the Vintage Harvest Festival run in conjunction with the Glenbrook Vintage Railway, which is just over the road from the family farm.

Murray Wymer says his family started market gardening in 1904 with 100 acres near Sylvia Park. The family moved to the 130 ha Glenbrook property in 1914 with three generations involved – Murray’s father Norman, grandfather Ron and great-grandfather Isaac Junior. Murray now runs the family’s business, RC Wymer Limited, established by his grandfather in the early ‘60s, and says his young sons are also keen on farming. “Over the years, we’ve grown all sorts from kiwifruit to kumara, pumpkins, potatoes, onions, wheat, barley, peas, cabbages,” Murray explains. “For now, we are focused on onions, growing around 80 ha a year, plus barley for feed grain, maize for silage and grain, and grass for cattle, giving us a rotation of about five years before a paddock goes back  into onions.

We swap land with Peter and Murray Aarts of Sundale Farms in Pukekawa for them to grow broccoli and potatoes so some  home farm blocks have had about 10 years between onion crops.” The  Wymer family own half of the export business, Produce Agencies, and Murray says changes in export potato returns  influenced his decision to focus on onions. “We export 95% of our onions, growing a range of varieties to spread risk with both the growing cycle and market pricing.  Due to health and safety considerations, we’ve moved away from hand-harvested early varieties. Everything we grow is machine harvested.”

Machinery, especially vintage, plays a key part in Murray’s life and was an interest he shared with Norman, who passed away three years ago. Murray enjoys restoring various pieces of farm equipment. “We still use some of it on the odd occasion; it’s great not to just leave it in the shed.”

The Vintage Harvest Festival is hosted on the Wymer’s farm every second March in association with the Glenbrook Vintage Railway. “We try and help where we can, and enjoy our involvement. It’s important to keep this heritage alive, because once it goes, we’ll never get it back again." The Wymer’s links to Fruitfed Supplies also go back a few years and include hosting trial sites for the Technical Team’s Research and Development trial work, something Murray says is important. “We host seed trials too as these trials help all growers and our future in the industry.

Their Fruitfed Supplies Technical Horticultural Representative, Jesse Clark, is heading into his third season of onion agronomy with Murray. Jesse is involved with weekly crop walks to identify potential pest and disease issues and discuss the best crop management product options. He also takes the soil and leaf test samples and reviews the results with Murray to plan bulk and  foliar fertiliser programmes.

“Jesse has his own family market gardening history as I know his grandfather who grew potatoes in Hawke’s Bay,” says Murray. “The good thing about Jesse is that he’ll ask advice from guys who’ve been doing it longer if he needs to.”

A member of Onions NZ, Murray adds that he is constantly assessing the market for other crops. “We may not stay exclusively in onions. The export market is getting smaller, as the quality, yield and storage capabilities of European crops improves. Developing countries are also getting more yield because they’re using Western products and seeds. So we keep our options open.”

Click for more horticultural articles | Click to find your local Fruitfed Supplies team

Large-scale operation demands technical expertise

30 September 2019

Learn how the technical expertise from our Technical Field Representatives adds value to farming operations. 

Under the gaze of Mount Ruapehu in the Waimarino area in the central North Island lies the Ä€tihau Whanganui Incorporation (known as ‘Awhi’) farming operation.

Awhi is an extensive operation comprising sheep and beef, a dairy farm, forestry and an apiary. The operation incorporates eight stations with a total land area of 42,000 hectares (ha).

Awhi Business Manager Farming Siwan Shaw said, “we run a large operation with many moving parts, so we need to partner with technical experts who understand the complexity of our operation. We have been working with PGW for many years, across a number of business units, but primarily with the rural supplies (agronomy, pasture and cropping technical expertise) and livestock teams.”

PGG Wrightson Technical Field Representative Nathaniel Turner has worked with Siwan and the station managers for over four years. Nathaniel said, “located within the Central Plateau area, Awhi has the advantage of nutrient rich volcanic soil, however the topography ranges from flat highly productive land including Whanganui river flats (100 metres above sea level) through to hard hill country (with an altitude of up to 700 metres above sea level). I work with the team to plan and support a crop and agronomy programme to suit the variation in growing conditions across the farming operation. Climatic conditions can be extreme with very challenging summers and wet, cold winters, so that’s another factor we need to consider.”

“In early June every year, we start preparing a crop management plan for all eight stations for the year ahead. The programme includes pasture and winter cropping, along with trial crops. In mid/ late spring we sow pasture and in late spring we sow winter feed including brassica and fodder beet.”

“Collectively the eight stations annually sow 900 ha of both short and long-term pasture, and sow 650 ha of winter feed (brassica and fodder beet). So, it’s busy all year round.”

“Pasture and summer forages are grown to increase livestock performance. Chicory and clover swards provide a source of high-quality feed which has the ability to achieve higher growth rates in livestock compared with a straight grass-based system. A plantain/clover mix has been adapted for a rich source of feed for lambing and lactation to increase yields at weaning (it is also used in the finishing/ fattening system).”

“Brassicas and fodder beet are sown for high quality bulk winter feed where feed demand is at its highest in periods of pasture feed deficit. Cropping is also part of Awhi’s pasture renewal process which involves a two-year rotation from existing under-performing pasture back into a high performing pasture, which contributes to an overall lift in farm productivity,” said Nathaniel.

Siwan Shaw said, “Nathaniel understands our business and provides technical expertise that we don’t have within our team. However, due to the scale and complexity of our operation we don’t expect Nathaniel to have all of the answers. So, it’s great that PGW have a team of technical experts who provide Nathaniel with support when he needs it, so he is able to draw on that expertise and can come back to us with a solution quickly.”

Nathaniel concludes, “Awhi’s team are innovative and future focused, so we are always planning ahead and thinking of ways to further enhance what is already a high performing operation. This makes my job both challenging and rewarding and I wouldn’t have it any other way."

Pictured: PGW Technical Field Representative Nathaniel Turner inspects a crop of Sovereign kale at Awhi’s Tawanui Station in May 2019. The crop is thriving at 700 metres above sea level in the Station’s nutrient rich volcanic soil. The crop was sown in early January and will be utilised as winter feed in late July 2019.

 

This article was profiled in our 2019 Annual Report.

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