14 May 2018
Amazing daikon radishes pushing themselves out of the ground!
It feels like winter’s on its way. The ground is cooling down but it’s not too late to plant out most winter vegetables, especially if you live in a milder climate.
Succession planting is good practice for gardeners who like to eat from their gardens most of the year. You don’t need all your broccoli, cabbages and caulis maturing at the same time. It’s best to sow and plant less but more often.
We’re planting our next lot of brassicas in the old dahlia bed, so the soil needs adding to. Our magic formula is compost and well-rotted chicken manure worked in with a fork, then rock dust applied over the top.
We lost half of our young broccoli and cauliflowers in the big storm, so we’re filling in those gaps. They were whipped back and forth and snapped off. For better support, plant your brassica seedlings a little deeper than you otherwise might do, then hill them up during the growing period.
This year has been the worst I can remember for caterpillars. Even though it’s getting cooler, they’re still around. I’m spraying weekly with B.T. and picking them off when I see them. Just one caterpillar can eat a lot of leaf in a short space of time. At our place, along with the brassicas, they’re also eating lettuces, silverbeet and parsley.
When we move into the First Quarter, it’s a good time to plant broad beans. Even though they’re not one of my favourite vegetables, I find them a really useful crop to grow over winter. As they grow, we nip off the tops and use the greens in salads and stir-fries. They’re sweet and tender and a great standby during the coldest months. The plants themselves are nitrogen–fixing and when they’ve finished fruiting, they can be chopped up and dug back into the soil. An added bonus is that they flower over the coolest months, so they provide food for bumblebees when other flowers are scarce.
It’s best to sow broad beans on a mound. A mound creates more warmth in the soil, and more importantly, provides better drainage. If your soil is too wet, the seeds will rot in the soil. We sow them about 5cm apart. If they all germinate, we can pull out every second plant.
When planting beans and peas, remember a side dressing of lime is useful to sweeten the soil as they grow better in more alkaline soils.
If you don’t plan to nip out the tops or if you live in a windy spot, it’s best to stake your beans as they grow. Strong plants can grow up to 1.5m high.
Broad beans are easy to grow but with humid winters, you can encounter black spot on the leaves. Good air flow among the plants and a monthly dressing of liquid seaweed will help.
Green manure crop
Look how quickly the lupins we sowed two weeks ago have grown – a very rewarding crop!
From Rob, Jan and the Team at OEG!