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NZ Gardener - 2021-10-01

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Gardening by the maramataka

LETTERS

Kōanga (spring) has arrived. Whiringa-ā-rangi is the fifth month of the maramataka and the traditional time for final land preparation for crops. The first week includes Whiro, the night following the new moon. Whiro (the night of October 8th) is not considered a good moon for garden activity as it is too dark, but the days that follow represent a period to return to the garden. We should now be fully immersed in the emergence of spring following the flowering cues of specific trees and bushes such as the tī kōuka (cabbage tree). At this time of year, it is not only plants that reawaken: insects and animals such as manu (birds) change their behaviour and provide us the impetus to get outside and prepare. For summer crops, this is the time to open the ground, turn the soil to expose it to the warmth of the sun and to allow nature to assist in pest control. Birds will gravitate to feed on beetle and moth larvae. In the very north, this month represents planting by the second week at latest. This timing will be later – maybe even next month – as you move south. Soil temperatures matter and reading the soil through the return of new grass growth or emergence of spring weeds such as pōhue (convolvulus, native and introduced), huainanga (fat-hen) or amaranthus (morewhero) give a sure sign of the soil’s readiness to support spring cropping. Dr Nick Roskruge

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