8 March 2019
Wow, how welcome is this rain! This has definitely been a challenging season for the garden. Some crops have thrived – tomatoes and peppers love this heat and it’s been the best peach season ever. Water-loving plants like beans and cucumbers have struggled with the drought though.
At this time of year, I would normally consider planting my first set of brassicas like kale and broccoli to get them established while the soil is warm. This year I’m holding off because it’s just too warm. Every area has a different climate so it’s best to judge what your conditions are like for yourself.
With more hot dry weather on the way I’m going to prepare the beds, pulling out the plants that are past their best and adding some good compost, manure and volcanic rock dust. Most cooler season vegetables are heavy feeders so I like to pile the good stuff onto the beds and fork over in preparation for planting. The best part of the drought is that even the weeds struggle to grow – yay!
Pruning fruit trees
With these warmer dry conditions, it’s a good time to summer prune the fruit trees that have cropped. I prune for height, making sure all the branches or leaders are cut at the same height. This ensures that when the sap rises in spring, it will do so evenly and give good fruit distribution. I also cut out all of the centre growth, so light and air can reach all parts of the tree. And lastly I prune round the trunk for the mower. This is a ‘Hawera’ plum.
Saving bean seeds
This is the time of the year to save seeds. I’ve left some beans on the vine to dry and I’ll start collecting them before we have too much moisture in the atmosphere.
The pumpkins which were doing so well have collapsed from lack of moisture. These are ‘Sunshine’ which is an orange-skinned buttercup.
If this has happened to you too, don’t rush into harvesting them. They are perfectly fine. It’s important to leave them on the vine until the stalk that connects them to the vine starts to shrivel. They will then be sweeter and will store more reliably.
Other tasks this month
This is a good month to sow and plant leeks and autumn peas.
Make the most of the fine weather this autumn!
From Rob, Jan and the Team at OEG!