Sow from seed this month: basil, beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, pumpkin, melons, corn, eggplant, chilli, capsicum, lettuce, radishes.
Sow from punnets this month: potatoes, kumara, tomatoes, onions, capsicums, eggplants.
Harvest this month: Artichokes, broad beans
It’s still spring but this November has been so warm already. It was in the newspaper not long ago that we are in for an extra hot summer this year. I think that this month we should practice keeping our plants well doused and happy, in an efficient way so we don’t waste precious water. It’s only going to get drier and hotter which means water restrictions will come into play. If we take some steps now to mulch our gardens well, we can reduce the number of days we need to water yet still keep our plants satisfied.
You guys know I’m a huge fan of mulch, and right now it’s particularly important! Mulch keeps the ground cool and protected. I have my vegetable patches covered in a thick layer of straw and hay. While the sun beats down hard on the top, underneath is cool, dark and damp.
Get that ground covered! Straw, hay, dead leaves, spent plants, grass clippings…
When the weather is hot and the ground dries out, depending on the type of soil you have, it can be hard for the water to trickle through. Here in Wellington, I have clay ground and once that’s dry, you need a hammer to get through.
If I water my garden for only a few minutes, there’s no way that water will have time seep through the rock-hard clay and get to the plant’s roots. It’s important to water for a long time to soften the ground enough for water to get through. Mulching on top of the clay will help keep it soft.
If you have a sandy soil, water drains very quickly. Mulching on top of this will help retain some of the moisture.
Fertilising your plants
Fertilising is very important right now as your plants are actively growing. Applying liquid fertilisers is a great way to get plants their nutrients quickly.
A tomato liquid fertiliser is high in potassium which promotes fruit growth. This type of fertiliser is also good for eggplants, beans, chillis, capsicum, cucumbers and pumpkins. Basically, a vegetable where you are harvesting the fruit, not the leaves. You can buy a tomato fertiliser or make your own using comfrey leaves. Comfrey tea is also high in potassium.
Corn, potatoes and kumara can be fertilised with a liquid seaweed fertiliser such as Seasol, or make your own. (Check out the link below) 👇
Practice succession planting to ensure a long harvest time. Sow carrots, beans, beetroot, radishes, spinach and lettuce every 2-3 weeks so you don’t run out. I also direct sow zucchini seed every 4 weeks, all throughout summer, for an extra large harvest!
When planting from punnets, avoid planting in the middle of the day if it’s a hot day. Soak the seedlings in Seasol first to avoid transplant shock and water them well once they are in.
Keep an eye out for bugs that plague your plants! The white butterfly is out in full force now, its little caterpillar offspring ready to annihilate your brassicas.
Checking your leaves manually and squishing the teeny yellow eggs and the green caterpillar are one way to combat this pest. Otherwise, use a net to cover your brassicas, sprinkle with Diatomaceous earth or use Kiwicare organic caterpillar bio control.
Aphids can also be a problem, on any of your vegetables or fruit trees. If you catch them quick enough you can squish the few there are with your finger (check the undersides of leaves too). If it’s a big infestation, spray the aphids directly with a mixture of unscented liquid soap and water (1 tablespoon soap to 1 litre of water.)
Other pests and diseases to watch for:
Mealybugs, Thrips, whiteflies and mites. The simple soap spray used for the aphids will work on a lot of these pests too. The fatty acids in the soap will dissolve the exoskeletons of the bugs.
Passionvine hoppers. Once adults, these buggers are hard to catch. Control them by vacuuming up their larvae before they have a chance to grow.
Psyllids. Dust the infected plant with diatomaceous earth or spray with neem oil.
Powdery Mildew. A fungal infection that can infect nearly any plant. Spray with a mixture of baking soda, soap and water. ( 1 tablespoon baking soda, 1/2 tsp unscented liquid soap to 3.5 litres of water.)
Blight. Treat early signs of blight with the baking soda spray above, or an organic copper spray. Late-onset blight or sever blight is harder to treat and it is best to remove the plant and dispose of it in the bin or burn it. Don’t compost it as you may spread it to other plants and don’t plant the same kind of plant in the same spot. The soil should then be well cultivated to stop the remaining blight spores overwintering and covered with a thick layer of compost and mulch.
A daily little wander in your garden can be extremely helpful in catching what’s wrong before it gets out of hand. It’s also a nice way to connect with your garden and see the changes happening each day!