Autumn in the Garden- March to do List

Autumn in the Garden- March to do List

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.

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 Read More

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.

Compost

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!

Foraging for the Food bank

Foraging for the Food bank

I asked and you guys gave!

For me, this year is all about reducing waste, especially food waste. There is free food everywhere in natureVegetables, herbs and fruit. So much goes to waste because it is forgotten, the birds get it too quickly or people don’t even know it’s there.

In NZ this is a particularly big issue as many people are struggling to feed their families because of our extremely high food prices (we export most of our food, so our own prices skyrocket.)

I wanted to do my little bit to combat this so I am on a waste-free mission!

For my own little family, my aim is to stock my pantry with as much food as I can that we don’t already eat fresh. My garden is pumping out zucchini and tomatoes like nobody’s business, so I want to stretch out this food to last us as long as possible. Canning, fermenting and dehydrating are happening every day in the Lewis Household.

But there is only so much food I can hoard for my own family without sharing with others. This is where you guys came in.

I put a blast up on a few community pages on Facebook asking if people had any fruit trees where fruit was going to waste. Maybe it’s a forgotten tree or the abundance of fruit was just too much. Anyway, SO many people replied! I got offers for lemons, pears, apples, damson plums and berries.

Together with my glut of vegetables, I amassed a HUGE amount of fresh produce, with only one goal in mind for it: Donate it to a local food bank. Most of the fruit was in top-notch condition, and for the bird pecked and squashed fruits, I made jams and preserves. I asked ONYA NZ if they would help by donating some of their amazing reusable produce bags and they said YES. Check out their bags here. Their environmentally friendly and reycled bags allow your produce to breather and last way longer in the fridge.

The picture above is only about half of what was collected, bagged and bottled. This is all going to the local food bank.

I’m so pleased and grateful for the response of others and am so hopeful that I can continue doing this in the future. I encourage you guys to try something similar in your community! All the fruit I did collect was otherwise just going to be wasted.

We can all save some damsons in distress. 😉

Happy foraging!

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