February, 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.
To sow this month: Beetroot, Broccoli, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Chinese Cabbages, Endive, Kale, Lettuce, Radish, Rocket, Spring Onion, Parsnips, Swedes, Turnips
To plant from seedlings: Basil, Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Leeks, Lettuce, Fennel, Zucchini
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’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
Keeping Your Beds Nourished
Your soil has been very busy over summer and it’s important to keep it healthy and protected. Chop and drop mulching is a great way to do this. Any plants that need cutting back or removing can be chopped up and used as a green mulch on your garden beds. They’ll help conserve moisture in the soil and add nutrients as they decompose.
Start off your winter broccoli and cauliflower seedlings now if you haven’t already done so, though if you’re in a south-facing section with a lack of sun, it’s a bit late and you’re better off planting out established seedings.
If you are planting out any brassica seedlings, be aware the white butterfly is still out so it pays to cover them with a net.
It’s too late to sow leeks now but get those seedlings in the ground A.S.A.P! Leeks need a long growing season.
Some of your leafy greens and herbs will 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.
Herbs like coriander 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, 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. 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 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. Tomato seeds can be squished out, rinsed with water, and left to dry out on some paper.
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. Leaves and plants that I have chopped back are put in a pile and mixed in with some carbon (dead leaves, straw, hay) and left to do their 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 early blight or powdery mildew or were plagued by psyllids, do not compost these leaves to avoid spreading these problems to next season. Instead, burn the infected leaves.