What to sow this month from seed: asian greens, broad beans, mustard, kale, peas, silverbeet, spinach
What to plant this month from seedlings: asian greens, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, garlic, kale, lettuce, mustard, shallots, silverbeet, spinach
June will mark the shortest day of the year, which means a lot less sun for our gardens. The growth of our vegetables will slow down dramatically.
Bear this in mind when sowing and planting this month.
You won’t see any real growth changes until the soil warms up, closer to spring, especially if you are in colder, southern areas of NZ.
If your area is prone to frosts, keep your lettuces and salad greens under cover and choose cold hardy varieties such as cos lettuce, or sow other hardy leaves such as mustard.
Keep Your Plants Warm and Your Soil Protected.
Keeping your soil covered with mulch or a green manure crop will stop the rough winter weather eroding it and keeps those nutrients locked in and the soil organisms happy.
Choosing a homemade mulch first helps keep costs down in the garden.
Plants around your garden that need to be pruned or trimmed? Chop up the trimmings to make instant mulch. Grass clippings work wonderfully as well, as do pine needles and chopped seaweed.
Shredded leaves are always a fantastic option too, as is leaf mould.
Green Manure Crops
Green manure crops are seeds that will create a cover over your soil so it’s not left bare in winter. This keeps the micro-organisms and bacteria under your soil fed and happy. It also suppresses weed growth and helps keep the nutrients in your soil.
Some green manure seeds also provide nitrogen as some are ‘nitrogen fixers’. Seeds such as blue lupin, Lucerne and broad beans are nitrogen-fixing which means they take up nitrogen from the soil and ‘fix’ it in these small nodules at the end of their roots.
Come spring, you can chop down this cover crop and let it break down back into the soil. The nitrogen from these little nodules will then be released back into the soil in a form that other plants can then take up and absorb.
Any spent plants you're not using for mulch you can add to the compost! When spring comes you'll need all the compost you can get so you can use the time over winter to get it going.
Chopped spent plants, dried leaves, grass clippings, food scraps, shredded paper, vacuum dust, pet hair...this can all go in the compost. Every time you add in some fresh 'green' stuff (food, green leaves, grass clippings..) add in some 'browns' too (dead leaves, shredded paper, straw...)
Giving it a turn every few weeks will speed things up. I use a compost turning stick.
Now that the focus isn’t all on planting vegetables, it’s a good time to take care of your fruit trees, especially the deciduous ones.
If your trees suffered from fungal diseases such as curly leaf, blackspot or oozing wounds, now is the time to treat them. Fungal spores can harbour over winter and reinfect your trees next season.
Spraying your infected trees with a copper spray (following the diluting instructions exactly!) and once again at the end of winter before the new buds burst can help tackle these problems.
Never mix copper with any other fungicide sprays. As with any fungicides, take care when using it and wear appropriate protection and be cautious with any runoff. Copper, for example, is toxic to fish.
If bugs such as thrips were a big issue you can also spray a horticultural oil on your tree which will smother the eggs that are hiding in the trees crevices.
Clear underneath your trees too and get rid of any decaying, fallen leaves. More than just fungal infections can hide there, like thrips for example.
Once you have cleared under your trees, give them a good helping of compost and organic matter (aged manure, chopped seaweed, leaf mould…).
Protect your vulnerable trees from frosts, such as young citrus or avocado. You can easily make a frost cover enclosure by hammering in a few wooden stakes and wrapping frost cloth around it when you know it will be a cold night.
In the evening, check if there are clouds in the sky. If it’s a clear night, it will be a be a frosty, clear morning too.
It’s a good time now to plant fruit trees too.
Feed your vegetables
Give your vegetables a monthly fertiliser boost with a liquid fertiliser to keep them strong in winter. They don't need it as often as in summer as the growth is so slow, but it will help promote stronger roots and defences against winter bugs and pathogens.
Stay warm, and happy gardening!