February, the last month of summer is here! The late summer vegetable garden is full of goodies to harvest and things to plant and sow. Time goes so quickly in the garden, especially when you plan around the seasons. There is always something to do or prepare for.
To sow this month: Asian greens, Beetroot, Broccoli, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Kale, Lettuce, Onions, Radish, Rocket, Spring Onion, Swedes, Turnips
To plant from seedlings: Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Celery, Leeks, Lettuce, Fennel, Silverbeet
February has to be one of the most rewarding months for the NZ vegetable garden. In the late summer vegetable garden, crops will be ripening quickly in the heat and you'll have a heap of produce.
Finding ways to preserve your excess fruits and vegetables is one of my favourite things to do (such as these Zucchini, apple and berry
Sow and plant for autumn and winter
Keep sowing brassica seeds and planting brassica seedlings in the garden to feed you over the colder months. Keep them covered with netting to protect from the white butterfly. Sow carrots and beetroot, and plant staple greens like silverbeet for harvesting during autumn and winter.
It's too late to sow winter leeks from seed now but you can still plant seedlings in the ground, though do this as soon as possible. Leeks need a long growing season.
Sow flowers too! Borage, calendula, stock, poppies...there are many to choose from.
If your veggies are 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 before cutting them down and placing them in a brown paper bag.
Herbs like coriander, or greens like silverbeet I let self-seed all over the garden. It saves me a job and it's free food!
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 when 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. Do be aware about cross-pollination though, so you can be sure of the seeds you're saving.
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 like pumpkins, and their skin will harden when they are mature. Cucumbers will turn yellow and hard. 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. Tomato seeds can be squished out of a ripe tomato, rinsed with water, and left to dry out on some paper.
Keep your seeds in a cool, dry and dark place until you are ready to use them.
Keep the Air Flowing
At the end of summer, fungal diseases such as powdery mildew are all over the place. Keep these and other fungal diseases at bay by encouraging good airflow around your plants. Remove any overlapping leaves on your cucurbits and tomatoes, or any browning and dying leaves as well as those that are draped on the ground. When watering, aim at the roots of the plants as opposed to the leaves as fungi love a warm damp environment.
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