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Sow and grow in autumn

Courtesy of Yates

Enjoy the final month of autumn gardening, where there’s still an opportunity to sow and grow lots of fantastic plants . . .

Hellebores

You can add gorgeous winter colour into low-light areas in your garden with hellebores. Also known as “winter roses”, they are perfect for growing in full to partly-shaded spots such as underneath the canopies of trees or in a pot on a shady patio. They are a delight during the cooler months of the year, putting on a prolific display of large, bell-shaped flowers right throughout winter and into early spring.

Hellebore “White Tutu” is a beautifully- elegant hellebore with graceful semi-double white blooms and ruffled, speckled-pink centres.

Growing to around 50cm high and 60cm wide, it flowers for many months and looks wonderful when mass planted in a shady garden bed.

White Tutu can also be planted in a container, creating a beautiful outdoor table centrepiece or winter courtyard focal point. They can also be brought indoors for up to three weeks in a well-lit room to show off their flowers.

Hellebores can be fed now with a high-potassium complete plant food, like Yates Thrive Roses & Flowers Liquid Plant Food, to promote lots of beautiful flowers and healthy foliage growth. Mix 2 capfuls in a 9L watering can and apply around the root zone each week.

To keep plants looking tidy and encourage further flowering, trim off any spent flower stems.

Cyclamen

Cyclamen are another gorgeous potted plant. They come in a range of flower colours, from pinks and purples through to white, scarlet and magenta, with some varieties having two-toned flowers or a light fragrance. Cyclamen's heart-shaped leaves are also attractive and can have mottled colours.

Beautiful potted cyclamen become available in autumn. With a little care, cyclamen can flower for many months and can be grown outdoors on a sheltered patio or deck or indoors on a cool, well-ventilated, brightly- lit windowsill. They prefer cool overnight conditions, so don't leave them near a heater.

Cyclamen can also be planted into protected garden areas under trees, creating a wonderful woodland effect.

When watering cyclamen, only water the soil surface, avoiding wetting the flowers and foliage (to minimise disease) and only water when the soil feels a little dry.

Remove any spent flowers by twisting them off at the base and feed each fortnight with a potassium-enriched liquid fertiliser like Yates Thrive Roses & Flowers Liquid Plant Food. Potassium is a key nutrient in promoting flowering.

When cyclamen leaves start to turn yellow in late spring, reduce watering and allow the pot to dry out in preparation for their dormant phase during summer. You can keep a dormant cyclamen in a sheltered spot outside in the garden (underneath a shrub is ideal) until new shoots start to emerge at the end of summer. The cyclamen can then be re-potted using fresh, good-quality potting mix, like Yates Premium Potting Mix, to give it a new lease on life.

Microgreens

Grow your own microgreens using these easy steps:

• Sprinkle half a packet of Yates Microgreen Cabbage Rubies over a 10cm diameter pot filled with compacted and moistened Yates Black Magic Seed-Raising Mix. For best results the seeds must be sown thickly.

• Cover the seed with a thin layer of seed- raising mix and moisten using a mist spray bottle.

• Place the pots in a warm, well-lit position indoors (or outdoors during warm weather), out of direct sunlight.

• Keep the seed raising mix consistently moist.

• Apply Yates Thrive All-Purpose Liquid Plant Food at half strength once the seedlings emerge.

• Snip microgreens above the soil line once they are 3-5cm tall.

Gourmet tip: you can sprinkle microgreens over pasta dishes, salads, baked potatoes with sour cream and scrambled eggs and add them into sandwiches, wraps and rice paper rolls.

Cutting the carbs?

If you're trying to reduce your intake of carbohydrate-laden potatoes, then switching some potato dishes for Japanese turnips might be something to consider.

Turnips might not sound so appetising, but if you know some creative ways to prepare them, they may just become one of your favourite vegetables.

Here are some delicious recipe ideas:

• Pan-roasted Japanese turnips with honey

• Japanese turnip & bacon soup

• Roasted baby Japanese turnips with dijon shallot vinaigrette

Japanese turnips, also called Hakurei turnips, are beautiful white-skinned turnips with a crisp, mild, sweet flesh.

In addition to being cooked, they can be eaten raw and thinly-sliced in salads and the green tops can also be used like spinach.

Japanese turnip seed can be sown all around New Zealand during May. They are fast-growing, taking only 6 to 10 weeks to mature and are a perfect vegetable to grow in pots in a sunny spot on a balcony or courtyard.

For potted turnips, sow seed 6mm deep direct into Yates Premium Potting Mix.

For garden turnips, enrich the soil beforehand with some Yates Dynamic Lifter Organic Plant Food. It adds rich organic matter to the soil which helps improve water and nutrient-holding capacity and provides gentle slow-release nutrients to the turnips as they establish.

Seedlings will take around 10 days to pop up. Keep the potting mix or soil moist while the plants establish.

Turnips can be harvested when the roots are 5cm across.

To encourage a great harvest, once the seedlings are established, feed your turnips each fortnight with Yates Thrive All-Purpose Soluble Fertiliser. It contains phosphorus which is an important nutrient for promoting strong root (and thus turnip) growth as well as nitrogen for healthy green leaves. — Courtesy of Yates

Beautiful hellebores (pictured above) or winter roses are perfect for growing in full to partly-shaded spots.
Pretty cyclamen can flower for many months and can be grown outdoors on a sheltered patio or deck or indoors on a cool, well ventilated, brightly lit windowsill.