Nelson is one of the better regions in the world for gardening because of the great climate. We have a temperate climate which provides enough hours of chilling in winter to ensure good fruit set on deciduous fruit and berries, and is mild enough to grow sub-tropical plants like citrus reasonably well.
Add to this the long sunshine hours and a reasonably even spread of the 1200mm of annual rainfall and we are well on the way to successful gardening.
Although we have some soil types in the region that suit fruit production, the soils in our urban areas can be on the heavy side with a predominance of clay, which makes gardening a challenge.
Tips for Successful Gardening in Nelson
- Improve the clay soil
Clay soils lack air space (porosity) and do not drain well. Because of the tightly packed particles, plant roots have difficulty penetrating and extracting nutrients and water. Therefore it is important to address this problem by adding large quantities of compost and working this into the soil, and at the same time raising the planting area above surrounding levels. See ‘What makes a good soil’ click here
- Feed with a good balanced fertiliser
To thrive, our introduced productive fruit and vegetables and many ornamentals require more food than the natural soil contains. Compost may assist but more is required. Firstly apply a good dressing of lime (or a 50/50 mix of lime and dolomite) followed by a balanced NPK fertiliser (one that has a high level of nitrogen (N) and potassium (K) and a lesser amount of phosphorus (P). Repeat for each successive vegetable crop or twice a year for fruit. See ‘What makes a good soil’
- Water with a soak hose
In dry periods or for container gardening it is necessary to water regularly and effectively. Soak hoses (weeper hoses) are more effective than sprinklers, less wasteful, and reduce the risk of disease attacks. Application of ‘soil wetters’ dramatically improves watering efficiency producing a better result from less water. While a good mulch will also help to retain moisture.
See ‘What makes a good soil’
- Select the best most suitable plants for Nelson
Nelson does have an equitable climate, making it good for most plants, however we need to avoid frost tender plants (except for some frost free areas), and plants that require exceptionally free draining soil. Whilst there are a few heirloom plants that are tried and true, they are greatly outnumbered by plants from modern breeding.
- Vegetables – look for modern hybrids they have much greater germination vigour, disease resistance, better taste, and higher yield.
- Fruit – look for modern disease resistant varieties
- Roses & Shrubs – look for modern disease resistant varieties and note the plants that thrive in gardens.
- Practice good garden maintenance and hygiene
Applying a mulch around plants supresses weeds and helps retain soil moisture. Regular pruning to maintain shape and control size, plus dead heading, ensures the ornamental garden is always healthy and attractive. Remove and destroy diseased tissue at first sign. Keep weeds under control as they are frequently an alternative host to pests and diseases.
- Choose safe effective pesticides
Even when all science proven methods of prevention are used, intervention with a pesticide is often still required. Choose the most cost effective, pesticide, approved, and registered for the particular crop.
- Vegetables – Grosafe Free Flo Copper, Grosafe Enspray 99, Yates Mavrik
- Fruit – Grosafe Free Flo Copper, Grosafe Enspray 99, Yates Fungus Fighter
- Ornamentals – Yates Super Shield, Combat, Kiwicare Spectrum, Grosafe Free Flo Copper, Grosafe Enspray 99, Kiwicare Insect Hit.