Sow from seed: all flowers, basil, beans, beetroot, carrots, corn, cucumbers, lettuces, melons, parsnip, pumpkin, radish, zucchini
Plant seedlings: all flowers, basil, capsicum, chilis, cucumbers, corn, eggplant, kūmara, melons, pumpkins, tomatoes, zucchini
Aaaand it’s summer! How quickly has this year gone.
The heat will be amping up now and water needs to be saved and used wisely. In the garden that means keep that mulch piled on! This helps to keep 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 an upside down, 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.
If you planted garlic in autumn or early winter, it 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, really 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 2-3 weeks before harvesting.
When a bout 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 replant the laterals too and they’ll grow roots and become their own plant.
Remove any leaves that are trailing on the ground to avoid rotting and fungal diseases.
Keep on sowing lettuce, radish, carrots, beets, 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. Covering the seeds with a sheet of damp newspaper or a thin layer of mulch can help. Make sure that if you are using newspaper, you remove it once the seedlings emerge from the soil.
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.
Remove the dead heads from your spring flowers so they put their energy into the next growth spurt.
Keep up the liquid feeding, about every two weeks to encourage healthy growth. A homemade comfrey tea is great for all plants where you are harvesting the fruit, not the leaves. A seaweed fertiliser or a weedy tea is a great general liquid feed suitable for all vegetables and fruit. A manure based liquid feed is good for all your leafy greens.
Keep topping your compost up with layers of greens and browns (nitrogen and carbon) and give it a good turn over to add in some oxygen.
If your compost is full, start a new pile. Cover the old pile with a burlap sack or tarpaulin and let it sit and break down over summer and autumn, ready to be added to your garden beds next winter.
Whaaat? Why are we talking about winter when summer has just started! Well, if you like to sow everything from seed, now is the time to start off winter brassicas in trays. Keep them protected with netting though!
Once the hot summer sun gets going, gardening in the middle of the day is no fun for you or your seedlings! So, enjoy slow relaxing evenings with a cold beer in hand, where it’s perfectly acceptable to garden until 9 pm!