Spring is finally here this month!
Though it’s a very exciting thought to start planting everything in the garden RIGHT NOW! Try hold off a little longer with planting any summer crops as New Zealand spring can be very unpredictable and a rogue frost could ruin all your hard work. Now is a good time to really ensure your soil is in top-notch condition, pack it full with lovely organic materials so your garden is ready for when it is planting time.
Sow from seed this month: Beetroot, broccoli, radishes, coriander, celery, carrots, silver beet, spring onions, radish, peas, broad beans, spinach, turnips
Sow from seedlings this month: broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, cabbage, potatoes, silverbeet, spinach, kohl rabi, kale
Prepare your soil
Winter is tough on the old soil, so add in lost nutrients by piling on more organic matter and mulch. This can be aged manure, dead leaves, chopped seaweed, spent plants (chopped up). Adding on a thick layer of mulch will help keep those nutrients in your soil, and as spring warms into summer, it will help conserve water.
Spring Clean around the garden
Pick up any dead leaves or plant debris and chuck them in the compost. Take this time to do some weeding too as the soft spring soil should make it a bit easier to pull them out. If your compost isn’t a hot compost, invasive weeds might grow back if put in there. Fix that problem by making a weedy tea with them instead. Chuck them in a bucket, fill with water and let them steep for a couple of weeks. Then, you’ll have a lovely liquid fertiliser to use on your spring plants.
Quick Sow Spring Seeds
September/October can be a little bit of a lull period in the garden, food wise. There’s not an awful lot to harvest from winter as you’ll be emptying your garden beds for summer crops. I like to use this time to direct sow quick growers like radishes, baby turnips, and beetroot (where I use the leaves in salads as I wait for the actual root to grow). Some of these can be harvested in as little as 30 days so you can at least have something fresh to harvest while you wait.
Feed existing plants
Feed your garlic and your rhubarb now, both are heavy feeders! For rhubarb, apply some compost and well-rotted manure around the crown of the plant to feed it and retain moisture. Feed your garlic with a fertilizer high in nitrogen, such as aged manure. Add some to a watering can and water around the roots of your garlic so your garlic can take up the nutrients quickly.
Strawberries and all other berries can be fed now too in preparation for a summer full of berries. Aged, well-rotted manure is such a helpful friend in the garden to do this job. Then mulch!
Check the soil around your deciduous trees and see if it needs attention. The rough winter weather can play havoc with the earth. Add compost if you need to around the base of the tree (make sure it doesn’t touch the trunk). Mulch your fruit trees.
Let your plants bloom
Some of your winter crops may be flowering now. If you want to give the bees a treat or you want to save seeds for next year, let them flower away. Let the flowers of whatever plant you’re seed saving from, dry out on the plant and then remove them and place in a brown paper bag. After drying them out further for another week or so, inside, give the bag a good shake to remove the seeds from the seed head. Label the bag and store in an airtight bag until you want to plant.
Some plants like parsley or coriander are excellent self-seeders so you can just the let the plant do its thing and new plants will pop up next season.
Have your broad beans been flowering but there are no beans in sight? Each little flower needs to be pollinated and because of the cooler weather, the honeybees aren’t as active and it’s a big job for the bumble bees! We can try and attract more bees to our garden by planting beneficial flowers that bees love. Read more here –> Beneficial flowers in the garden.
Start Seedlings Inside
Tomatoes, eggplants, chilis… these can all be started inside now so you can get ahead when it’s time to plant them out. Traditionally labour weekend is a safe bet to plant them out as the risk of frost is gone. For help starting seedlings inside, read more here—> Starting seedlings indoor.
Plant potatoes now so you have fresh spuds for Christmas! Generally, you can harvest potatoes after they have flowered and died back but not all potatoes flower so this is not a sure-fire method. Keep dates of when you planted your potatoes and what variety and then go from there.
I have listed a few common types and their harvesting times.
- Rocket- 60-70 days, this a quick growing variety
- Cliff Kidney- 60-90 days (depending on baby potatoes or if you want bigger ones)
- Agria- 150 days for fully matured potatoes
- Jersey Benne- 60-70 days, another quick growing variety
- Highlander- 80-90 days
- Red rascal- 90 days
- Swift- 70 days
- Liseta- 90 days
- Purple Passion- 70-80 days