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Looking on the bright side

Courtesy of Yates

Now’s the time to get started on all those jobs you’ve been putting off . . . until you have more time. Like planting a new lawn, or replanting an existing one. Early autumn is a great time to start a new lawn from seed because the air temperatures are mild but the soil is still warm enough for grass seed to germinate and establish. Send the kids out to pick cherry tomatoes and get creative with ways to serve them. Gardening is therapeutic — it will lure you outside in the fresh air and lower your stress levels . . .

Starting a new lawn from seed:

1. Weed control — weeds will compete with the new lawn so should be controlled two weeks before sowing lawn seed (this allows the weeds to die completely). Yates Zero Weedkiller can be used as a general spray over the area to kill any weeds and existing grasses.

2. Soil preparation — lawn seed should be sown into well drained, firm but not compacted soil that is rich in organic matter. Yates Dynamic Lifter Organic Lawn Food contains composted chicken manure blended with blood and bone, fishmeal and seaweed and mixing this into the existing topsoil will help to create an ideal environment for lawn seeds to grow. An application of lawn top dressing can also benefit lawn establishment where the existing soil is heavy clay or poor and sandy or the surface is uneven.

3. Measure — measure the area and calculate the correct amount of lawn seed.

4. Sow — rake the soil surface in straight lines to create shallow furrows. Broadcast the seed evenly over the area. It helps to halve the seed and sow half in an east-west direction and the other half in a north-south direction. After sowing, lightly cross rake the area to mix the seed into the topsoil.

5. Water — water the area with a fine mist spray. It is very important that the top soil remains moist for the first 14 to 21 days to complete germination. This may require watering several times a day if the weather is hot or windy. As the grass establishes, the number of waterings can be reduced but increase the volume of water at each watering.

6. Mow — mow the grass when it is 5-6cm high so you just cut the top 1cm off the top. This will help to encourage root growth. As the lawn matures, lower the blades of the mower on successive cuts.

Choosing the right lawn seed

There are so many different kinds of front and back lawns all around New Zealand, including lawns in sun or shade and areas that are a playground for pets and kids. People also have their own preferences for the type of lawn they want, including soft and upright grasses to tough and running varieties.

To help you choose which lawn seed to use, here are some details about Yatesí most popular lawn seed varieties:

• Yates' Mow it Less — a beautiful, lush-green, hard-wearing and drought-tolerant lawn that requires less mowing. The seed is quick to germinate and contains a mixture of turf-type perennial ryegrass and creeping red fescue.

• Yates Luxury Lawn Seed — a low-growing, neat and compact lawn seed mix containing creeping red and chewings fescue. This grows a lawn with an excellent deep green colour and the fine leaves can be mown closely, creating a luxurious-looking lawn.

• Yates Tuffgrass — a value-for-money lawn that is resistant to wear-and-tear, so it's great for areas where pets and kids play. It combines perennial ryegrass and chewings fescue and is easy to establish, germinating in around seven days.

Yates Mow it Less, Luxury Lawn and Tuffgrass are coated with Active-GRO, which is the latest lightweight seed coating technology that helps protect against fungal disease and bird theft.

Cherry tomato fun

Most kids will happily devour cherry tomatoes though some might need a bit more convincing. Here are a few fun ways to use cherry tomatoes which can be in plentiful supply at the moment in vege patches across the country, and perhaps “hide” a few extra veges in the food fun at the same time.

• Create little cherry tomato toadstools by placing tomato halves on top of balls of mozzarella.

• Make a cherry tomato creature face by carefully cutting out a wedge shaped mouth and then joining onto a body of grilled chicken breast or sausage.

• Put together a mixed skewer of cherry tomatoes, cheese and cucumber. Everything tastes better on a skewer.

• On crackers or toasted sourdough bread, assemble ladybirds made with cherry tomato and olive halves on top of layers of lettuce and hummus or cream cheese.

Out in the tomato patch, to help prolong the harvest well into autumn continue feeding tomatoes each week with Yates Thrive Tomato Liquid Plant Food. It's the additional potassium in this specially formulated tomato fertiliser that encourages lots of flowers and tomato fruit. Dilute 2 capfuls in a 9-litre watering can and apply over both the foliage and around the root zone.

- Courtesy of Yates