Autumn in the Garden- March to do List

Autumn in the Garden- March to do List

Seeds to sow now: Cauliflower, Kale, Broccoli, Cabbage, Khol Rabi, Leeks, Lettuce, Radish, Silverbeet, Spring Onions, Turnips, Swedes, Carrots, Beetroot

Plant from punnets now: Leeks, cauliflower, Kale, Broccoli, Cabbage, Khol Rabi, Leeks, Lettuce, Silverbeet, Spinach

Some summer crops are most likely still being harvested right now but many will be ending their life cycle now or very soon. I love this time of year when I can clean up my garden, reuse the green waste and plant anew for winter and spring.

End of Summer Garden Waste

If you had a full summer garden you may feel daunted at how much green waste there is once you start pulling out spent plants. Don’t worry though, if you let them break down in a compost pile or let them break down in your garden, these plants will soon become part of the soil.

My personal method in the garden is a deep mulching one and I like to chop down my spent plants in smaller pieces and lay them right down where they were planted, then cover them with a mulch like hay or straw and compost. The microorganisms under the soil will then get to work for me and break down the plants, returning them and a truckload of nutrients back into the soil. I plant my new seedlings right into the compost I laid on top.

Letting it all break down in a compost heap is also a great way to reuse green waste. Alternate your green waste with some brown carbon such as dead leaves and you’ll soon see the pile break down and lower.

*Note: Don’t compost diseased leaves that have been infected with things like powdery mildew or blight. A home compost doesn’t usually get hot enough to kill off the fungal spores.

Powdery Mildew
Powdery Mildew

Bridge the Gaps

Planting quick growing crops like radish, turnips, lettuces, beetroot and Chinese greens means you can have something to harvest while you wait for your bigger autumn and winter crops to grow. Beetroot and turnips are delicious when young and small, they’re especially tender and sweet then, plus their leaves can be harvested as well as the root.

Sow a Green Crop

If you have any garden beds that were used for the summer but are having a break over the winter, sow a green cover crop over the top. The plants in a green cover crop are nitrogen-fixing which means they take up nitrogen from the soil and ‘fix’ it in these small nodules at the end of their roots. Come spring, you can chop down this cover crop and work it back into the soil. The nitrogen from these little nodules will then be released back into the soil in a form that other plants can then take up and absorb.

A green crop will also stop weeds from overtaking the empty garden.

Over winter some crops

Plants that we sometimes think of as annuals are actually perennials in warmer countries, such as eggplants, chillis and capsicum. If you can, you can move these plants inside a glasshouse, or a makeshift greenhouse and overwinter them. Bring them out again next spring and they can produce even better in their second year.

Seed Saving

Try your hand at seed saving so you can save money next time.

For cucurbit seed saving, let them grow huge and let their skin harden. Once mature, you can scoop the seeds out from the middle and wash them well to remove the pulp. Once collected, let the seeds dry out completely on a tray before storing in a dry, cool and dark place.

Beans seeds can be collected by letting the pods dry completely on the vine until they rattle when you shake them.

Happy gardening!

I made a start on my own March to do list in the video below.

Summer in the Garden- February to do List

Summer in the Garden- February to do List

The last month of summer is already here! Time goes so quickly, especially when you plan around the seasons. There is always something to do or prepare for.

What to sow this month: Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, bok choy, carrots, beetroot, leeks, spring onions, lettuce, fennel, swedes, turnips, parsnips

What to plant from seedlings: Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, basil, coriander, leeks, fennel

February has to be one of the most rewarding months for the NZ vegetable garden. Your summer crops will be ripening quickly in the heat and you may find yourself overloaded with produce. Finding ways to preserve your excess fruits and vegetables is one of my favourite things to do and it means you can enjoy your homegrown bounty all year round.  I have been canning, dehyrdating and fermenting and it’s been so fun! I’m working on a few favourite recipes to share in the future.

In the Garden

Just because Autumn is around the corner, doesn’t mean the heat is stopping. February is one of the hottest months in NZ, and judging from how this summer has been so far, this February won’t be an exception.Therefore, keeping your garden hydrated is still at the top of the list.*

*Do remember though: a deep longer watering is better than many quick ones. This will ensure the water has time to actually reach the plant roots.

Liquid Fertilisers

Keep on top of liquid feeding! I make all my own liquid fertilisers (see my post here), and in summer I need to replenish my supply regularly as I am using it so often. Liquid feeding your plants every one to two weeks in summer is great to give them that extra boost they need to keep producing.

Seed Saving

Some of your leafy greens and herbs that are not so heat tolerant may start bolting and going to seed. Try your hand at seed saving so you can resow these next season. Leave the seeds on the plant to dry out completely before cutting them down and placing them in a brown paper bag. Keep your seeds in a cool, dry, dark place until you are ready to use them.

If you are wanting to seed save from plants such as zucchini or cucumber, wait until the plant is nearing the end of its life before letting one vegetable grow to full size. This is because, if the plant is putting its energy into growing a zucchini to full size, it’ll put less energy into producing more flowers and produce for you.

Once you have harvested a decent amount, let a few of the healthiest vegetables on the plant grow to full size. Zucchinis will grow huge and their skin will harden when they are mature. Cucumbers will turn yellow. Once mature, you can scoop the seeds out from the middle and wash them well to remove the pulp. The same goes for pumpkin seed saving. Once collected, let the seeds dry out completely on a tray before storing in a dry, cool and dark place.

Beans seeds can be collected by letting the pods dry completely on the vine until they rattle when you shake them.  

Prepping autumn garden beds

My own garden is still very full of summer crop so I don’t have a lot of room to start preparing yet but I do make the most of each little space that comes up and I have prepared a few small sections for some of my autumn crops.

Your soil will have been very busy and depleted over summer so you want to add nutrients back in. Spread a layer of rich organic matters such as leaf mould, worm castings, aged manure or seaweed over your soil. I use a deep mulching method in my garden so I don’t work any of this stuff ‘in’ to the soil. I place it on top and then plant right into it. This layer also works as a barrier for weeds. 

Autumn Seedlings 

Start off your brassica and leek seedlings now if you haven’t already done so. If you are planting out any brassica seedlings already, be aware the white butterfly is still out so it pays to cover them with a net.

Strawberry Runners

Your strawberries will be producing many runners around this time. Once these runners have rooted you can snip them off the parent plant and replant them as their own individual plant. A strawberry plant does its best producing in the first three years, so it’s a good idea to replace the older plants with some of these new plants.


At this time of year, I have a whole heap of compost piles. It’s so easy to just throw any green waste in a pile. Any leaves I chop back, or plants I pull out all get dumped (semi-nicely) in a pile. I mix it in with some carbon (dead leaves, straw, hay) and let it do its thing. Because they are dotted all around my garden, once it has broken down I can use it straight in the garden without having to cart it around too far.

If your plants were hit by any diseases such as blight or curley leaf , or were plagued by pysllids, do not compost these leaves to avoid spreading these problems to next season. Instead, burn or bin these infected leaves.

Want to see my personal February garden to do? Watch the video below.

Happy gardening!

Summer in the Garden- January to do List

Summer in the Garden- January to do List

Happy new year!

I hope last year was a good one for you and that the new year brings lots of great things. I’ve personally had a fantastic 2017 and am so grateful to all my readers and your support over the last year. Thank you. ❤️

To sow this month: carrots, beetroot, fennel, cucumbers, lettuce, early turnips, corn, silverbeet, zucchini, beans

To plant from punnets: tomatoes, eggplant, chilis, lettuces, fennel 

This month you will be kept busy with a lot of harvesting. Beans, zucchinis, cucumbers, chilis and tomatoes will be appearing quickly and it is a good idea to harvest them as you see them to let the plant put energy into producing more new flowers and more produce.

Sow in the gaps

As you are harvesting, don’t forget to resow in the empty spaces! It can be easy to get caught up in picking produce now and not thinking about the future months. I direct sow lettuce, zucchini, beans and radishes constantly to ensure a continuous amount of produce. In the cooler areas, down south, you can start sowing early varieties of turnips now too. Baby turnips don’t take long to grow and you’ll have something new for your salads!

Prepare beds for leeks and brassicas

Next month is when I will start sowing my brassicas (Broccoli, Cauliflowers, Brussel sprouts, Swedes…etc) and leeks to give them a good start before it gets colder. I use this month to prepare the spaces where they will go. Brassicas especially are heavy feeders so pile on a good amount of compost and aged manure.

Remember crop rotation. If in the previous season you had planted brassicas in a certain place, don’t plant them there again the following season. This will deplete the soil of nutrients and if there are brassica diseases present, they will infect the next crop too.

Check for bugs and diseases

The tomato/potato psyllid is out now and can wreak havoc on your toms and spuds! Know what to check for if you think you may have this bug. Kath Irvine from the Edible Backyard has a great article here.

Potato psyllid damage

Blight, particularly on tomatoes is another problem. Telltale signs are black spots and rings on the leaves, fruit may start to rot and the leaves turn yellow and drop off. Once your plants have blight you should destroy the plants (not compost as the fungal spores can survive) and make sure not to plant the same plant there again for a few years. Blossom end rot is a problem often confused with blight. The bottom end of the fruit (where the blossom is) rots. This usually caused by erratic watering or sometimes a too acidic soil. Unlike blight, this isn’t a plant disease.

You can avoid blight by keeping your tomatoes well staked and trimmed to allow better air circulation. A spray of 1 tsp baking soda per litre of water is effective too, at the first sign of blight or as a precautionary measure. This spray also works well for powdery mildew, another fungal disease that can affect many plants but is common on squash and pumpkin plants. Signs of this are a white powdery looking dusting on top of the leaves.

Net your fruit

Stone fruits, apples and pears are ready or very close to being ready and the birds are just waiting patiently to attack. Net your trees and berry bushes now to avoid your trees being stripped bare. It is amazing how fast birds can work. On Facebook, I read a post a lady wrote about someone stealing all her cherries from the tree one day. Turns out it wasn’t a sticky-handed thief, just hungry birds. Not one cherry was left!

Liquid fertilise

Keep on top of liquid feeding! A bi-weekly or weekly dose of a good liquid fertiliser will have your vegetables thanking you. Try some homemade ones here.

Preserve your excess

Jams, chutneys, dehydrating, freezing… After you have had your share of fresh, given away to friends and families, preserve your leftovers so you have some for the winter! My larder is filling up quickly with different fruits I have collected. To preserve mine I use this simple bottling method here.

What’s your favourite thing to do with your fruit gluts?

Happy gardening!

Spring in the Garden-November to do list

Spring in the Garden-November to do list

Sow from seed this month: basil, beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, pumpkin, melons, corn, eggplant, chilli, capsicum, lettuce, radishes.

Sow from punnets this month: potatoes, kumara, tomatoes, onions, capsicums, eggplants.

Harvest this month: Artichokes, broad beans 

It’s still spring but this November has been so warm already. It was in the newspaper not long ago that we are in for an extra hot summer this year. I think that this month we should practice keeping our plants well doused and happy, in an efficient way so we don’t waste precious water. It’s only going to get drier and hotter which means water restrictions will come into play. If we take some steps now to mulch our gardens well, we can reduce the number of days we need to water yet still keep our plants satisfied.


You guys know I’m a huge fan of mulch, and right now it’s particularly important!  Mulch keeps the ground cool and protected. I have my vegetable patches covered in a thick layer of straw and hay. While the sun beats down hard on the top, underneath is cool, dark and damp.

Get that ground covered! Straw, hay, dead leaves, spent plants, grass clippings…


When the weather is hot and the ground dries out, depending on the type of soil you have, it can be hard for the water to trickle through. Here in Wellington, I have clay ground and once that’s dry, you need a hammer to get through.

If I water my garden for only a few minutes, there’s no way that water will have time seep through the rock-hard clay and get to the plant’s roots. It’s important to water for a long time to soften the ground enough for water to get through. Mulching on top of the clay will help keep it soft.

If you have a sandy soil, water drains very quickly. Mulching on top of this will help retain some of the moisture.

Fertilising your plants

Fertilising is very important right now as your plants are actively growing. Applying liquid fertilisers is a great way to get plants their nutrients quickly.

A tomato liquid fertiliser is high in potassium which promotes fruit growth. This type of fertiliser is also good for eggplants, beans, chillis, capsicum, cucumbers and pumpkins. Basically, a vegetable where you are harvesting the fruit, not the leaves. You can buy a tomato fertiliser or make your own using comfrey leaves. Comfrey tea is also high in potassium.

Corn, potatoes and kumara can be fertilised with a liquid seaweed fertiliser such as Seasol, or make your own. (Check out the link below) 👇

5 Easy D.I.Y liquid fertilisers

Succession planting

Practice succession planting to ensure a long harvest time. Sow carrots, beans, beetroot, radishes, spinach and lettuce every 2-3 weeks so you don’t run out. I also direct sow zucchini seed every 4 weeks, all throughout summer, for an extra large harvest!

When planting from punnets, avoid planting in the middle of the day if it’s a hot day. Soak the seedlings in Seasol first to avoid transplant shock and water them well once they are in.

Pest Protection

Keep an eye out for bugs that plague your plants! The white butterfly is out in full force now, its little caterpillar offspring ready to annihilate your brassicas.

Checking your leaves manually and squishing the teeny yellow eggs and the green caterpillar are one way to combat this pest. Otherwise, use a net to cover your brassicas, sprinkle with Diatomaceous earth or use Kiwicare organic caterpillar bio control.

Aphids can also be a problem, on any of your vegetables or fruit trees. If you catch them quick enough you can squish the few there are with your finger (check the undersides of leaves too). If it’s a big infestation, spray the aphids directly with a mixture of unscented liquid soap and water (1 tablespoon soap to 1 litre of water.)

Grey aphids on a cabbage seedling
Grey aphids on a cabbage seedling

Other pests and diseases to watch for:

Mealybugs, Thrips, whiteflies and mites. The simple soap spray used for the aphids will work on a lot of these pests too. The fatty acids in the soap will dissolve the exoskeletons of the bugs.

Passionvine hoppers. Once adults, these buggers are hard to catch. Control them by vacuuming up their larvae before they have a chance to grow.

Psyllids. Dust the infected plant with diatomaceous earth or spray with neem oil.

Powdery Mildew. A fungal infection that can infect nearly any plant. Spray with a mixture of baking soda, soap and water. ( 1 tablespoon baking soda, 1/2 tsp unscented liquid soap to 3.5 litres of water.)

Blight. Treat early signs of blight with the baking soda spray above, or an organic copper spray. Late-onset blight or sever blight is harder to treat and it is best to remove the plant and dispose of it in the bin or burn it. Don’t compost it as you may spread it to other plants and don’t plant the same kind of plant in the same spot. The soil should then be well cultivated to stop the remaining blight spores overwintering and covered with a thick layer of compost and mulch.

A daily little wander in your garden can be extremely helpful in catching what’s wrong before it gets out of hand. It’s also a nice way to connect with your garden and see the changes happening each day!


Happy Gardening!

Spring in the Garden- October to do list

Spring in the Garden- October to do list

It’s nearly Labour weekend when most of New Zealand will go out and plant the majority of their seedlings. The chance of a late frost will have passed and the weather will be warming up. For cooler areas down South, waiting a little longer to plant can be a good idea.

Seeds to sow: broccoli, cauliflower, beetroot, carrot, lettuce, spinach.
Seeds to sow after Labour weekend: Beans, cucumbers, zucchini, eggplants, pumpkins, melons, tomatoes, corn

Plant from punnets after Labour weekend: Eggplant, zucchini, capsicum, cucumber, chilli, tomatoes


Potatoes planted in the last two months will be showing their big leafy tops and they’ll need soil or mulch mounded around them. This will keep their long stalks from breaking in the wind and will stop the sun from shining through and turning your potatoes green.

Prepare beds for heavy feeders

Corn and pumpkin are two prime examples of heavy feeders. They need extra compost and manure in their beds to get them to grow big and tasty. You can use this month to prep those beds extra well, before direct sowing the seeds at the end of the month.

Work in things like well-rotted manure or sheep pellets, chopped up, washed seaweed, compost and worm castings. Cover the bed with mulch and let the worms and microbes have a feast until it’s time for planting.


As the weather is warming up, did you notice your broad beans are finally carrying little beans? We have the bees to thank for that.

We are heading to the months where pollination is vital for our fresh produce. Let’s get those bees in our garden by planting flowers wherever we can! Borage, lavender, poppies, lupins, sunflowers… these are all flowers bees love.

Feed your berries

Homegrown berries are hard to beat.  You can feed your blueberries, boysenberries, raspberries, gooseberries and strawberries with Strawberry Food to ensure a bumper crop. Keep the soil for the berries consistently moist but don’t over water.

Fill your gaps (and your plate)

Direct sow baby carrots, lettuce and radishes anywhere you have gaps. They’ll grow quickly and you can have fresh salads while you wait for your main summer crops to grow.

Slugs and snails

Keep on top of slugs and snails before they demolish your seedlings! You can use bait or a trap, like this beer trap. Fill it with beer and the slugs and snails will climb in and drown.

Fashion a frame

If you’re planting climbing beans, pumpkins, squash and cucumbers this year, a climbing frame may be what you need to save on space.

Photo credit: Pinterest

Pinterest is full of fantastic ideas on what you could use. It can made from stakes and string, an old spring bed base, a clothes horse… the possibilities are endless!

Photo credit: Pinterest

Happy gardening!

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