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.

Mulch

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…

Watering

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!

Growing Roses From Cuttings

Growing Roses From Cuttings

I have to say, I did a happy dance the moment I discovered just how EASY it is to propagate roses from cuttings. They are so expensive at garden centres but we buy them anyway because who doesn’t love a rose?

Turns out the price tag isn’t even justified when from one plant you can make a dozen baby plants with ingredients you have at home. Usually, when propagating from cuttings you’ll need some sort of rooting hormone to help stimulate the cutting to grow roots. Most roses however already contain their own rooting hormone called auxin so adding your own isn’t compulsory.

It does speed things up though.

Spring is a great time to propagate roses as new growth is in full swing. You can cut off any part of the rose stem and it may root, but for best results take a firm and young stem, with some leaves. Roses will root best if you leave some leaves on so photosynthesis can occur.

Now you can dip this cutting into a rooting hormone if you wish. You can get some great store bought ones, or make your own.

Home Made Rooting Hormones Mixes

  • Honey water. 1 Cup of boiled water with 1 tsp of honey dissolved into it. Let it cool down and dip your cuttings into it. Honey is a great natural root stimulator and is anti-bacterial so your cuttings stay disease free.
  • Cinnamon. A quick dip in some cinnamon powder will stimulate root growth, plus cinnamon is inexpensive and easy to source.
  • Willow water. If you have a willow tree, soaking some leaves in water over-night makes a great rooting solution.

Once your cuttings are ready you can plant them in a pot in a warm sunny space to grow. If you’re doing this in late spring, another option is to plant them straight into their final position as the weather is getting warmer and sunnier.

Keep your cuttings moist. After about 4 weeks they will start forming callouses which will form the roots. You want to leave your cuttings undisturbed while they are doing this but for information sake, I took one out to show you what the callouses look like.

After about 3 months you can replant the cuttings.

So easy!

Once you open the doors to the world of propagating you’ll see the possibilities are endless. Roses make a great starting point though. As long as you have a bit of patience, they’re nearly full proof.

Have you tried this? What other plants have you propagated?

Happy gardening!

Deep Mulching- The Fuss Free Gardening Style

Deep Mulching- The Fuss Free Gardening Style

There are many ways to have a vegetable garden as well as many gardening styles. If you have raised beds for example, you could use the square foot method, a potager style garden, a keyhole garden, just to name a few.

I love browsing Pinterest and looking at pristine, organised raised beds, but when it comes down to it my gardening style is the complete opposite. For my tiny section, I have three main objectives: a high yield, good use of space and no weeding. To accomplish these goals I use a deep mulching method.

Deep Mulching 

This method is based on Ruth Stout’s ‘No Work’ gardening technique. The idea is simple: Keep a constant, thick layer of mulch around your vegetables all year round. This simple but effective technique means there is no need for weeding, tilling, digging or even composting (Though I do still compost, sorry Ruth!) It retains moisture in summer, keeps plants warm in winter and improves your soil fertility over time.

When your plants are finished, don’t pull them out. Simply chop them down and cover with mulch. Weeds poking out? Cover with mulch. You start with an initial 20cm layer of mulch, which will quickly settle down to about 5cm after rain, and just keep on adding mulch as needed.

My own gardening area is pretty small so I like to use all the space. This method lets me use the whole ground as one big garden bed with no set borders. Perfect for my hectic gardening style.

What Mulch to use?

You can use any vegetable matter as mulch. Chop down plants that are finished and use as mulch. I initially used a mixture of barley straw, pea straw and hay as my thick starting layer. Now I pile on grass clippings and leaves too. This thick layer will stop weeds as they won’t be able to reach the light.

But hay has grass seed!

Yes, yes it does. The key point here is to keep the layer of mulch thick enough. If you only have a light covering then the grass seeds can touch the soil and establish in there. If your mulch cover is super thick, the grass seed will germinate but it won’t be growing in anything. Then you can simple cover with more mulch or stick in a pitchfork and flip the mulch over. Or, use straw. It has considerably less seed but it is more expensive.

Once you start this method, you have to keep going. It’s all about the continuous cycle of mulch upon mulch. For me, mulching all year round still beats constant weeding. Garden clean up each season is also considerably easier as instead of raking up dead and decaying plants, you just chuck another mulch layer on top.

And under that mulch…

Is a glorious world or microorganism and worm activity. Over the years your ground will get more and more rich and fertile as these layers continue to break down.

To get initially started, check out how to make a ‘No-Dig Garden bed‘, here. This is a great starting point as it also requires no digging or disturbing of the soil structure and microorganisms underneath.

This won’t be everyone’s cup of tea I’m sure, but it’s effective and time savvy. The mulching cuts down weeding, saves A LOT of water in summer, keeps plants warm in winter and improves soil fertility, ten fold.

What do you think, what’s your gardening style?

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

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.

Bees

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!

Container Gardening- Grow Produce Anywhere

Container Gardening- Grow Produce Anywhere

Having your own little vegetable patch can seem unimaginable if you have no grass to place it on. Container gardening means you can have your own homegrown paradise anywhere you like.

Well, as long as it gets sun. That’s still a must. Luckily you can always move the containers around to the sunniest spots!

Container Gardening

Tui garden products have a great range of soils and fertilisers perfect for container gardening. Today I used a mix of Tui Pot Power, Tui Vegetable mix and their new, handy pack of mini sheep pellets.

Container Gardening

Unless you have a mass amount of containers, you’ll need to consider where you plant your vegetables. You want to plant them in a way to maximise the space.

For this particular deck, there was a trellis at the back. I’ve planted purple climbing beans at the edge of a few of the pots to utilise the trellis, as the beans will climb up it.  Broccoli was planted alongside the beans. Broccoli uses a lot of nitrogen to grow, whilst the beans fix the nitrogen in the soil. When the beans are finished, the old plants can be chopped up and worked back into the soil to return the nitrogen.

Container Gardening

Capsicum and tomatoes were planted alongside basil seedlings. Basil can naturally help deter bugs and it is said to improve the flavour of the tomatoes.

Lettuce, coriander, silverbeet, red onion and strawberries were all planted in the remaining containers. Lettuce seeds were sown alongside the lettuce seedlings to ensure there’s a continuous supply.

Last but not least, I planted some french marigolds to attract those bees for when the tomatoes and capsicums blossom.

Container Gardening

The soil can be topped up once crops have been harvested. Add some more vegetable mix or compost, a handful of sheep pellets and replant something in it straight away.

Do practice crop rotation though, don’t plant the same family of vegetables in the same pot two seasons in a row. Otherwise, there’s an extra risk of plant disease or depleted soil.

Happy gardening!

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