Sow from seed: basil, beans, beetroot, carrots, corn, cucumbers, lettuces, parsnip, pumpkin, radish, zucchini
Plant seedlings: basil, capsicum, chilis, cucumbers, corn, eggplant, melons, pumpkins, tomatoes, zucchini
Now that it is summer, the heat will be amping up now and water needs to be saved and used wisely. In the garden, mulch helps with this! It keeps the soil damp for the days you can't water.
For a thirsty plant, you can dig a small container of some sort (that has holes in the bottom, like a seedling pot or a cut in half plastic bottle), into the soil next to the plant's roots. Now when you water, the water will go straight to the plant's roots and avoids water wastage.
This is great for plants like tomatoes and zucchini that don't benefit from getting their leaves wet (as warm and wet environments encourage fungal diseases.)
If you have beans, cucumbers, tomatoes or zucchini ready, pick them promptly to encourage the plant to produce more flowers.
Garlic planted in autumn or early winter will be ready to harvest soon. There's no exact time to harvest your garlic, it depends on time planted, temperatures, sun hours etc.. It's best to check your own garlic and look for the indicators.
The leaves of the garlic form layers around the bulb that’s forming underground. As the garlic bulb matures, these layers will start to dry and die back and form a papery skin around the bulb. They dieback from the bottom first and work their way up.
As the first set of leaves brown off, cut back the watering of your garlic. Obviously the rain can't be controlled but garlic needs time at the end of its growing season to dry out a bit underground. This helps with forming the papery protective skins that protect the bulb. Aim to stop watering around 2 weeks before harvesting.
When about a third of the leaves have died back it might be ready. Dig up a bulb and check. Don't wait until they have all died back or you risk your bulbs splitting.
Take extra care of your tomatoes. Pinch off the laterals to ensure good airflow and encourage the plant to produce more flowers instead of leaf. You can pop the larger laterals into a glass of water if you'd like extra tomato plants. They'll grow roots and you can replant them.
Remove any leaves that are trailing on the ground to avoid rotting and fungal diseases.
Keep on sowing radish, carrots, beets, heat-tolerant lettuce varieties and spring onion for your summer salads.
Do keep in mind that if you are direct sowing, you have to keep the seeds moist or they won't germinate. Starting salad greens in trays first can be easier to keep an eye on the seedlings as they grow.
Sow another round of zucchini, beans, cucumber and corn to extend your harvests.
Autumn and winter brassicas can be started off in trays this month, particulary for those in the cooler parts of NZ or who lose the sun over autumn and winter. Sowing a few seeds every few weeks over summer and early autumn will give a continual harvest over the colder months. Ensure the seedlings don't dry out and keep them protected from the white butterfly.
Pests and Diseases
Keep an eye on pests and diseases. Catch bad bugs before they get out of hand and learn to distinguish between the bad and the beneficial insects.
A healthy garden is less likely to fall victim to insect attack so feed and nourish your vegetables. Planting flowers in all the empty spaces will encourage the good bugs to come and deal with the pests.
A daily walk in the garden can stop a problem in its tracks before it has a chance to spread. Sow annual flowers in any bare spaces you have to keep attracting those beneficial bees and bugs.