Ken  and Frances Ardnt.  Ken is a well known green thumb in the Grantham area.
Ken and Frances Ardnt. Ken is a well known green thumb in the Grantham area. Dominic Elsome

Green thumbs get ready for summer season

WITH the weather warming up, many hobby farmers and weekend gardeners will be heading out into the garden in preparation for the upcoming season.

Grantham hobby farmer Ken Arndt is a well known local legend famed for his massive vegetables, rosella jam and delicious pickled vegetables.

His gardening successes have lead to people calling him 'green thumb Ken'.

Mr Arndt is preparing for a busy summer and is hoping to harvest apple cucumbers, rosellas, blackjack pumpkins, dragon fruit and passionfruit.

Frosts in winter and the dry weather have delayed his planting, but recent rain means he's about to being planting his first crops, taking advantage of the much needed moisture in the soil.

Mr Arndt approaches his gardening as more of an art than a science, and doesn't fret over is garden.

"I just go with the flow," Mr Arndt said.

While his garden is his passion and Mr Arndt spends much of his time out in it, he takes a very laid-back approach to his hobby.

When preparing his soil for planting, Mr Arndt usually turns the soil over and uses a healthy amount of chicken manure to boost the crop.

This laid-back approach extends during the growing season, as he doesn't use herbicides or pesticides on his crops.

"I don't worry - what I lose I lose," he said.

Mr Arndt said one of the biggest mistake many growers make was not taking their time in the garden.

"Don't rush it - a lot of people come undone when they rush too much," he said.

He explained he rarely wasted anything from his garden, often burning last year's crop over the plot he was planning on planting to help boost the soil, and said more gardeners should use what was in their garden.

"Don't throw it out at the dump - dig it into your garden," he said.

He also recommended growers should allow their soil time to rest after growing a crop in it, and said many overworked the ground, draining it of nutrients.

"They put on crop in and the next day they've got another bugger back into the same ground - it's really flogging the ground, that's why they got to put nutrients back into it again."

Prepare now for season

PETER Bevan is well known in Lowood for his incredible work with the Lowood Beautification Project and for the small nursery he runs.

Mr Bevan said the most important part of growing anything successfully was preparation, especially coming into spring and summer.

"Preparation is important no matter whether it's vegetables, annuals or native plants. Whatever it is you've got to be prepared and have your ground ready," Mr Bevan said.

He said with spring well and truly upon us and summer fast approaching, getting ready for planting was key.

"Getting rid of any weeds, mulching and pruning probably the three main things you'd be looking at doing," he said.

Mr Bevan said growers should also get plants in the ground soon to give them time to establish ahead of the warmer months.

"It's still a good time to plant now but probably in another month or two your time will be running out - that's when the real hot weather comes in and it's very hard to put plants out in the heat," he said.

While recent rain certainly hasn't been drought breaking, Mr Bevan said growers should use the rain to jump start their plants.

"Especially if you want to conserve water you should try and work around rain events," he said.

"If there's rain forecast that's the time you should be planting and with a bit of luck plants can get fairly well established without having to use a lot of your own water on them."


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