Garden tasks to get on track this July

Three gardening tools on dark wood

Sort through your seed stash

Even if it’s too cold and wet to be in the garden, you can still spend time preparing for spring. Sort through packets of seeds and bin any that are past their expiry. If you want to be doubly sure before ditching them, there’s an easy way to test their viability. Sprinkle 10 seeds on a damp paper towel, roll it up and place it inside a ziplock bag in a warm spot. Check the seeds every few days to see if they’ve germinated. Depending on the type of seed, this can take up to 10 days. If half your seeds germinate, this means that around half your packet will grow in your garden. You can test the viability of larger seeds such as corn, beans and peas by putting them in a bowl of water. If they sink, they’re fine; if they float, chuck them in the compost.

Sharpen your tools

If you look after your garden tools well they can last decades. Wash off any dirt, then wipe the wooden and metal parts of your tools with a clean, soft cloth covered with linseed or olive oil. This will help prevent them rusting. Sharpen any blunt tools, such as secateurs or loppers – take them to a professional or do some research online and do it yourself. Hang your tools up in a dry spot when you’re not using them – I keep mine on a peg board.

Plant a tree for Matariki

Matariki, the beginning of our new lunar year, is the perfect time to reflect on our role as kaitiaki (guardians) of our natural world. As part of our nationwide goal to reduce emissions, we all need to plant more trees and help restore natural ecosystems. Choose natives that also provide food for our wildlife. If you have lots of space, pūriri is one of the best trees for providing nectar, fruit and seeds year-round. If your plot is petite, kōwhai ‘Dragon’s Gold’ is a miniature tree that tūī and kererū love. Most local councils have guidelines on what trees suit your area, or visit

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