6 March 2020

Autumn is here! The nights are definitely cooler and the mornings darker, but there’s plenty of growing weather left.

This month we’re enjoying the last of the summer produce, planting some of the autumn-specific crops, and preparing for winter ones.

I’ve had good and bad luck with our watermelons. We had 4 in total grow on our one vine – one I picked too early, the second one was perfect weighing in at 7.5kg, and the two little latecomers were picked because the vine had shrivelled up, but they weren’t ready either! This big beautiful one made up for the mistakes, and I’ll know for next year 🙂

Kumara

The kumara patch looks nice and healthy. The general wisdom is to cut back the runners, so that the plants put their energy into their roots, rather than the leaves.

Potatoes

The Agria potatoes are bursting with life. Time to do the first hill up. The hills on the side become the trenches and the trenches the hills.

Onions and leeks

My onions and leek seedlings all germinated well – this is what they looked liked after 5 days of sowing.

I kind of thought they were doing okay and left them in the laundry, and now they’re suffering from lack of light (too embarrassed to show you them now), so time to pay them some good attention so they’re ready for planting out at the end of this month. They’re out under the shadecloth now and have had a liquid seaweed feed – on Dr Rob’s instructions!

Peas

Even though beans are perennial and if I’d cut these spent vines off at the base they would grow again next summer, space is at a premium at our place. So I’ve pulled them out completely and sown climbing Sugar Snap peas ‘Carouby’ there instead. Rob says peas and beans aren’t fussy about being planted directly into the soil of a previous crop, but I did give the soil a boost. I cleared out a small amount of composted material from our Hungry Bin worm farm but, as the material is pretty ripe, I trenched it into the soil. Peas and beans need an alkaline soil to thrive, so I layer lime on top of the compost, then cover it with soil. I apply our favourite rock dust and in go the pea seeds directly, watered in well. The beans are doing nicely on the other side of the support structure.

Kale

I’ve also sown some kale seed to plant out at the end of the month. I like the cavolo nero variety of kale best.

Crop Rotation

And now it’s time to think about crop rotation. This is how our summer garden looked, and now I have to plan rotation for the winter garden

This is my best solution I think. I had put the late season zucchini and cucumber in where the original plants were, but realised I needed a whole bed for onions and leeks, so quickly transplanted them into the late season bed which now has late sweetcorn in it too.

This is not a perfect plan, but you need to take into account what you’ve got growing in each bed currently, when it’s likely to come out versus what’s going to replace it, and when that will be ready to plant, and so on.

And lastly, loving our carrots which are ready to eat – these are the first ones I sowed – Laguna – we’ll enjoy these over autumn and winter. I’ll sow more in April ready for spring and summer.
Check out this yummy Carrot Salad recipe.

Enjoy the beginning of Autumn!

From Jan, Rob and the Team at OEG

6 Responses

  1. Hi
    Just to clarify:
    Peas/Beans (nitrogen fixing) – leafy greens – fruiting – roots.
    Yours is different. Can you tell me why? I thought leafy greens need the extra nitrogen and root crops don’t like too much.
    Thanks

    1. Hi Sonia We believe this is the order that works ideally, but there is much written about which crop follows which, and the key thing is just to rotate your crops however best it works for you. Try not to put the same type of crop in the same bed for 4 rotations if you can. That is not always practicable of course. The way legumes (nitrogen-fixing crops) work is taking nitrogen from the air and converting it into forms of nitrogen that will ensure they themselves grow well. It doesn’t particularly benefit the next crop in. Nitrogen compounds in decomposed matter in the soil often needs to be broken down by microbes before the roots of other plants can take them up. The reason we like root crops going in after peas and beans is because peas and beans use up potassium which is not good for root crops. Then the root crops aerate the soil well which, when combined with nitrogen-rich fertilisers, make a good environment for leafy greens. And fruiting plants like the potassium left by the leafy greens. That’s our theory, but as mentioned, there are many 🙂

  2. Hey guys, We have just bought a new place with quite a bit of garden space. Unfortunately it is in a bit of a state, the old owners don’t seem to have tended to it at all and it is very overgrown… my husband has just run the lawn mower through it (not sure if that was the right thing to do). Do you have any videos I can watch which help me to get the bed ready so I can do some planting for winter (I am a complete beginner, but very eager to get into gardening!).
    Thank you so much!!!

    1. Hi Anja Firstly, running the lawnmower over the land would be a good thing 😊 as it will help you see what you’re working with. Next we would suggest you make a decision about whether you want to get started now and learn as you go, or whether you would like to be more deliberate about it and design the ideal scenario before you start. Basically you’ll end up in the same place whichever way you decide.
      Starting now and learning as you go means deciding how many garden beds you think you can manage in the beginning and finding the sunniest spot for them. Maybe start with 1 or 2 – you can always add more as you become more confident and enthusiastic. They should be around 1-1.2m wide and as long as you like, but probably not longer than 3-4m. Then find the best site. If you have to choose between morning and afternoon sun, choose afternoon. Definitely choose north-facing and definitely don’t choose south-facing. So ideally a NW facing orientation is great and a NE one second best. The next step is finding something to edge your beds. Ideally it’s around 100mm high, but up to 200mm is fine. Try and get the edging continuous as slugs and snails harbour in bricks and cobblestones.
      Then we recommend getting a fork and forking through the land in the bottom of the delineated beds to aerate it. You may need to do this after a good rain which will soften the ground up a bit. If you have grass like kikuyu in the space you can either scoop a layer of the ground off taking it off, or lay cardboard down over it. You are now aiming to add organic material so that the soil is sitting mounded above the edging of the bed. As a first layer you could put old compost or straw/hay or animal manure (or a combination of these) down first but this isn’t necessary – it just means you’ll need a bit less of the next layer although it will compact down quite a bit. Then we recommend you get a load of garden mix delivered and fill the bed or beds. Tell the supplier it’s for growing vegetables in and they will recommend the right mix. Having some topsoil in it is good for holding moisture.
      You then need to follow our planting instructions for each crop. Either search particular crops or follow us on social or newsletter and of course planting timing is all in our calendar. Every crop has particular nutrient needs which you’ll add to your garden mix at the time of planting.
      If you want to be more deliberate about it, we recommend you follow permaculture design principles. Permaculture recommends you observe your space through the seasons observing where the sun and shade fall and noting your needs, designing your space accordingly. It’s basically the way we grow and we think, if you’re keen, you could work out pretty quickly the spaces you can grow in and get started now.
      Vegetable garden beds need at least 6-8 hours of sunshine a day, preferably 8 hours. Ideally orientate beds N to S, so the sun rises on one side of them and sets on the other.
      And lastly pathways… we think around 600-700mm is a good width. You need to be able to get a wheelbarrow up and down them and crouch to work. One way to prevent weeds in the pathways is to put weed matting down on them at the time of making the beds then put the edging of the bed on top of the edge of the weed matting to hold it down. You can then put whatever kind of material you like on top of the weed matting.
      The only other consideration at this stage is recycling waste. Our favourite methods (rodent-proof) are a Hungry Bin for food waste scraps from the kitchen, and making hot compost from large waste material from the garden when you take crops out. We make a pile of matter like kumara clippings, pumpkin vines, zucchini and cucumber trails, and use this to make a hot compost 2-4 times a year. Rodents aren’t interested in this as there’s no food in it, it’s just biomass.
      We recommend watering by hand as this way you’re observing your plants and noticing what they need.
      It would be worthwhile watching the Getting Started videos https://organicediblegarden.co.nz/getting-started/ and of course if you have any questions, please ask 😊
      All the best ❤️

  3. Wow, So much information, thank you 🙂 I have printed this out and I will start watching your videos and go from there. So much to learn, but it’s exciting! Thanks again!!!

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