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Sweet pea and silverbeet-planting time

Courtesy of Yates

Whether it’s enjoying a posy of home-grown sweet peas, sweet peas cascading from a hanging basket or a fence or tripod covered in sweet peas in spectacular full bloom, sweet peas are a beautiful flower to have in your garden. Even your vegetable garden can look pretty if you plant Bright Lights silverbeet with gold, pink, orange, purple, red and white stems.

Sweet peas

It's sweet pea sowing time, so now is your chance to dream ahead and decide where you would like to have this gorgeous flower on show.

Tall-growing sweet pea varieties that are ideal for creating walls of colour include delicately-patterned Yates Sweet Pea Patricia Ann, beautifully-fragrant Yates Sweet Pea Colourcade and vibrant Yates Sweet Pea Original. Compact varieties that are perfect for pots and hanging baskets include Yates Sweet Pea Bijou.

Here are some easy steps to create a very pretty sweet pea display:

1. Sow seed around 15mm deep into a garden bed or pot, firm down and water in well. If your soil is acidic (has a low pH) also apply some Yates' Hydrangea Pinking Liquid Lime and Dolomite. This will help to raise the soil pH (make it more alkaline), which sweet peas prefer.

2. Only water again sparingly until seedlings emerge in around a fortnight. Too moist soil can lead to the seeds rotting.

3. Once the seedlings are around 5cm tall, start feeding each week with Yates Thrive Roses and Flowers Liquid Plant Food. This fast-acting complete fertiliser provides nitrogen for healthy leaf growth, phosphorus for strong root development and potassium for lots of lovely sweet pea flowers.

4. Tall varieties will need to be grown on a frame, trellis or tepee. Young seedlings may need to be supported with small twigs or bamboo skewers until they can reach their trellis.

Sweet peas take around 12-14 weeks to flower. Cut handfuls of deliciously-scented flowers for a vase so you can bring their gorgeousness inside.

Flower care: protect new sweet pea seedlings from destructive snails and slugs with a light sprinkling of Yates Blitzem Snail and Slug Pellets.

Silverbeet: add some colour to your veggie patch

Bring some bright ornamental colour into the vegetable patch with Yates Silverbeet Bright Lights. This variety of silverbeet produces vibrant, coloured stems in gold, pink, orange, purple, red and white. Leaves are lightly savoyed and green and bronze in colour. It's a highly-productive mix of silverbeet for continuous harvesting over a long period.

Yates Silverbeet Bright Lights can be sown in New Zealand from spring through to the end of autumn and can be grown in either full sun or part shade.

It's easy to sow silverbeet seeds, 10mm deep, directly where they are to grow in the vegetable patch or in pots. To improve the soil and give silverbeet the best possible start, enrich the soil in the vegetable patch beforehand with Yates Dynamic Lifter Organic Plant Food. It's as easy as mixing 150g of pellets (around 2 adult handfuls) per square metre into the soil.

You can also sow seed in trays of Yates Black Magic Seed Raising Mix and transplant seedlings once they are 5cm high.

Silverbeet (sometimes called chard) can be harvested from around nine weeks after sowing. It's best to harvest by pulling (rather than cutting) stems, starting with the outside leaves. Continuous harvesting will encourage new growth.

To promote lots of lush leaves, keep the soil or potting mix moist and feed the silverbeet each week with Yates Thrive Vegie and Herb Liquid Plant Food, which provides a complete and balanced diet of nutrients.

Watch for snails and slugs, particularly while seedlings are small. A light scattering of Yates Blitzem Snail & Slug Pellets will easily control snails and slugs.

Here's a yummy recipe using your colourful home-grown silverbeet:

Hot rainbow chard salad with crispy roasted garlic skins

Ingredients:

700g of vine tomatoes

2 bulbs of garlic

Salt and pepper

Juice of 1 lemon

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 bunch (about 500g) rainbow chard

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Drizzle a little olive oil over the tomatoes and garlic, season with salt and pepper, and put into the hot oven for about 30-40 minutes.

2. To make vinaigrette, blend the lemon juice, olive oil, 2-3 cloves of the roasted garlic, salt and pepper, using a kitchen whiz or food processor.

3. Wash chard in fresh water and drain. Just before serving, saute chard in a hot frying pan with a little olive oil, salt and pepper.

4. Arrange the chard on a large serving plate with the roasted vine tomatoes, the flesh and the outer skins of the roasted garlic and dress with the vinaigrette. Serve.

— Courtesy of Yates

Sweet peas take around 12-14 weeks to flower. Cut handfuls of deliciously-scented flowers for a vase so you can bring their gorgeousness inside.