Spring in the Garden- September to do List

Spring in the Garden- September to do List

Spring is finally here!

Though it’s a very exciting thought to start planting everything in the garden RIGHT NOW! Try hold off a little longer with planting any summer crops as New Zealand spring can be very unpredictable and a rogue frost could ruin all your hard work. Now is a good time to really ensure your soil is in top-notch condition and that your garden is all cleaned up for when it is planting time.

Sow from seed this month: Beetroot, broccoli, radishes, coriander, celery, carrots, silver beet, spring onions

Sow from seedlings this month: broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, cabbage, potatoes, silverbeet, spinach

Prepare your soil

Winter is tough on the old soil, so add in lost nutrients by piling on more organic matter and mulch. This can be aged manure, dead leaves, chopped seaweed, spent plants (chopped up)…

Spring Clean around the garden

Pick up any dead leaves or plant debris and chuck them in the compost. Take this time to do some weeding too as the soft spring soil should make it a bit easier to pull them out. Don’t put any of the invasive weeds in the compost though. The compost won’t get hot enough in this weather to kill them and they’ll grow back with a vengeance.

Quick Sow Spring Seeds 

September/October can be a little bit of a lull period in the garden, food wise. There’s not an awful lot to harvest from winter as you’ll be emptying your garden beds for summer crops. I like to use this time to direct sow quick growers like radishes, baby turnips, spring onions and beetroot (where I use the leaves in salads as I wait for the actual root to grow). They can be harvested in as little as 30 days so you can at least have something fresh to harvest while you wait.

Feed existing plants

Feed your garlic and your rhubarb now, both are heavy feeders! For rhubarb, apply some compost and well-rotted manure around the crown of the plant to feed it and retain moisture. Feed your garlic with a fertilizer high in nitrogen, such as aged manure. Add some to a watering can and water around the roots of your garlic so your garlic can take up the nutrients quickly.

Strawberries and all other berries can be fed now too in preparation for a summer full of berries. Aged, well-rotted manure is such a helpful friend in the garden to do this job. Then mulch!

Feed your deciduous fruit trees now with Fruit tree Fertiliser. Check the soil around the trees and see if it needs attention. The rough winter weather can play havoc with the earth. Add compost if you need to around the base of the tree (make sure it doesn’t touch the trunk). Mulch your fruit trees.

Let your plants bloom

Some of your winter crops may be flowering now. If you want to give the bees a treat or you want to save seeds for next year, let them flower away. Let the flowers of whatever plant you’re seed saving from, dry out on the plant and then remove them and place in a brown paper bag. After drying them out further for another week or so, inside, give the bag a good shake to remove the seeds from the seed head. Label the bag and store in an airtight bag until you want to plant.

Some plants like parsley or coriander are excellent self-seeders so you can just the let the plant do its thing and new plants will pop up next season.

Attract Bees

Have your broad beans been flowering but there are no beans in sight? Each little flower needs to be pollinated and because of the wet weather, the bees aren’t as active. We can try and attract them to our garden by planting beneficial flowers that bees love. Read more here –> Beneficial flowers in the garden.

Start Seedlings Inside

Zucchini, capsicums, chillis, cucumbers… these can all be started inside now so you can get ahead when it’s time to plant them out. Traditionally labour weekend is a safe bet to plant them out as the risk of frost is gone. For help starting seedlings inside, read more here—> Starting seedlings indoor.

Potatoes

Plant potatoes now so you have fresh spuds for Christmas! Generally, you can harvest potatoes after they have flowered and died back but not all potatoes flower so this is not a sure-fire method. Keep dates of when you planted your potatoes and what variety and then go from there.

I have listed a few common types and their harvesting times.

  • Rocket- 60-70 days, this a quick growing variety
  • Cliff Kidney- 60-90 days (depending on baby potatoes or if you want bigger ones)
  • Agria- 150 days for fully matured potatoes
  • Jersey Benne- 60-70 days, another quick growing variety
  • Highlander- 80-90 days
  • Red rascal- 90 days
  • Swift- 70 days
  • Liseta- 90 days
  • Purple Passion- 70-80 days

Happy Gardening!

Flowers in the Garden- Beneficial Blooms

Flowers in the Garden- Beneficial Blooms

Just over a month to go and spring is here. This means more warmth and sunshine on the way. Unfortunately, this means more garden pests too. If you’re trying to garden organically, one way to help with this is to plant certain flowers.

That’s right, a lot of blooms don’t just look good, they also help keep your garden healthy. There are flowers for all sorts of reasons in the garden: encouraging bees, keeping away detrimental bugs and encouraging beneficial bugs.

French Marigolds

French marigolds, with their bright yellows and optimistic oranges, are one of my favourites to plant in my garden. Their gorgeous colour attracts the bees and their strong scent keeps away the bugs we don’t want, such as slugs and leafhoppers.

French marigolds are best planted in clumps of many as opposed to one or two. They are an annual so will die after a year but if you let them self-seed, you can grow them again and again.

Marigold flowers
French Marigolds

Calendula

These gorgeous flowers have many uses. They not only help repel detrimental bugs, the petals are also edible and have antibacterial, anti-fungal and antiseptic properties.

So toss their petals in a salad, make your own medicinal balm or brew a calendula tea. So many uses!

They’re an annual but they self-seed super well so you’ll really just have to plant them once, then watch them multiply effortlessly.

Calendula

Borage

Borage is a bee’s best friend. These pretty and interesting looking flowers are edible and though it’s an annual, it’s a fantastic self-seeder. Once you plant one plant, you’ll never have to plant another again.

Borage is another good pest control plant and helps keep away cabbage worms. It also leaves beneficial trace elements in your soil when it’s planted.

Borage

Lavender

It smells delicious to us but not so much to mosquitoes, moths and fleas and will keep these pests away from you while you’re gardening. The heavily scented purple flowers will attract bees and other pollinators though so lavender is a big asset in the vegetable garden.

Lavender

Nasturtiums

Sweet and peppery nasturtium. Another edible bloom, this rambling flower helps repel white fly and keeps other bugs off your vegetables by acting like a ‘trap crop’, sacrificing itself to save your produce, (a hero plant right there.) Plus, a bonus, the nasturtium seed pods can be pickled and eaten as an alternative to capers!

This is another flower that needs no help with self-seeding.

nasturtium flowers
Nasturtium

Wildflowers: Cosmos, cornflowers, poppies, sweet peas, snapdragons and more 

These beautiful flowers will brighten up your garden and attract loads of bees. You can sprinkle wildflower seeds now and they’ll be ready in summer. 

So when you’re planning your spring garden, don’t just plant vegetables. A flower filled garden is a happier place for both nature and gardener.

What’s your favourite flower?

Happy Gardening!

July in the Garden- To Do List

July in the Garden- To Do List

To sow this month: broad beans, broccoli, cauliflower,peas, snow peas, radish, rocket, onions, lettuce, swedes, turnips, silver beet, carrots

To plant from seedlings this month: asparagus, Chinese cabbages, broccoli, cauliflower, garlic, lettuce, onions

As always, there is still plenty to do in the garden.

If you’re keen on the idea of homegrown fruit, it’s still a great time to get some fruit trees planted. Choose a nice sunny spot and dig a large hole that’s double the size of the tree’s root ball. Once you’ve placed your tree in the ground, fill the hole with the original soil and top it off with a layer of compost. If drainage is an issue, placing stones at the bottom of the hole before filling can help.

Potatoes

It’s getting to that time to plant potatoes. Start chitting them now, to force seed potatoes to sprout. This takes about 4 weeks. Place them in a single layer in a cool light place, but not in any direct sunlight. Once the sprouts have long and strong shoots, keep the strongest 3-4 shoots and rub off the rest. Then they can be planted out. For fail free results, use some certified seed potatoes, such as Tui Certified Seed potatoes as these will ensure a healthy crop

While your potatoes are sprouting, you can use that time to prepare a bed. Add lots of compost and oragnic matter such as well-rotted manure your soil.

When it’s time to plant your potatoes you can add Tui Potato food to give them an added boost. Dig long, deep trenches in your soil and place your potatoes in the trenches, about 20cm apart. Cover them with about 5cm of soil. As the potatoes grow and green leaves pop out through the soil, keep mounding them with soil. This will stabilize the long green potato leaf stalks and stop the potatoes from reaching the light (which would make them turn green and poisonous). 

Strawberries

Plant strawberries now for some early spring treats! Read my strawberry growing post here.

Mulch

Keep on mulching those garden beds. The weather in NZ hasn’t been too kind lately so to stop that rain leaching away all those nutrients in your soil , get that mulch on.

Weeding

A not so fun bit. Use the soft soil to your advantage and get on top of your weeding. There’s that old saying, ‘One year seeding makes seven years weeding.’ So heed the advice! It’ll pay off in the end I promise.

Happy Gardening!

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