April 2020 NH newsletter

Since our last blog post, it’s been typically blustery, showery and cool for this time of year. You need to choose your moments to be outside!

Making hoops

I made hoops to go over the bed I sowed with root crops and the potato patch last time. You’ll need a simple gadget like the one Rob has in this video to bend the steel, and some hosing to thread the steel through. The video explains it all well. It’s a bit of an outlay at this stage, but you’ll use these hoops over and over again.


Lay netting over the top and secure with weed mat pins.


All our seeds germinating

The turnips were up within a week of sowing. And the spring onions are just announcing their arrival.


No sign of carrots under our towel though!

Every one of the flower seeds germinated!

The flowers are looking so much better than the herbs which were sown 2 weeks earlier than the flowers. I’ve got an Italian flat leaf parsley plant here and some basils, but the oregano is missing in action.


I also had a punnet planted with rocket, lettuce and silverbeet sown at the same time as the herbs. I managed to up-end the punnet off the windowsill when I was drawing the blind up (AGAIN!). The 3 rocket plants survived but only 1 Cos lettuce. I’ve transplanted the survivors into jiffy pots to see how this goes for these quicker-turnaround plants (more lettuce and silverbeet have been re-sown). I think they will be absolutely fine, although the pre-dibbled hole in the jiffy pots wasn’t big enough, so I used my dibber to make a bigger hole. With the jiffy pots you have to weigh up if their cost and ease of planting straight into the garden equals or is less than the cost of the potting mix you would use if you were transplanting into recycled pots.


Next job is to transplant the flower seedlings. Here they are all perky!


Feijoa hedge maintenance

I spoke with Rob about whether our feijoa hedge needed a bit of a boost. He recommended a dose of chicken manure. Chicken manure is a brilliant source of nitrogen for the garden generally, so I made the trip out to our local chicken fertiliser people and managed to get 20 smelly bags into my car. The 15 feijoas are now having a nice feed of chicken poop, washed down by the rain.


Preparing garden beds for planting

Then with all this chicken manure round the side of the house and all these beds waiting for their plants and likely to be attracting weeds, I decided to do what Rob does with fallow beds and lay some chicken manure down on them and then cover them over until they’re ready for planting. I used what cardboard I had, then finished the beds off with leftover weed matting. It’s flapping around a bit in the wind, but it’s better than not having the soil covered. This will also encourage life into the new soil we’ve laid.


Leafy greens

I’m going to risk putting out the little rockets and the one lonely lettuce in the garden and see how they go. They’ve been in their jiffies for 6 days now and their root systems won’t be disturbed by planting them out.

I’m going to empty some vermicast from our amazing Hungry Bin to plant them in. This Hungry Bin was set up 6 months ago and this is the first time I’ve emptied it. Look at all this fantastic food and worm tea for our garden. How could you not be impressed by the efficiency of nature!


The soil has got nitrogen from the chook manure in it. I’ll add some of our rock dust for vitamins and minerals.


Now it’s a test to see how many slugs and snails there are in the neighbourhood. I’ve put a ring of coffee grounds round each plant as that acts as a bit of a deterrent (hard for the pests to climb over). And two yeast traps (1 teaspoon each of white sugar and dried yeast in 1 cup of warm water – wait 15 minutes till it foams up). I might even go out at night and see what I can find too, although I love my sleep, so it won’t be an all-night vigil!


I had some mesclun seed, so have put a row of that in this leafy green bed.

This is also a great time to plant wet-loving herbs like parsley, coriander, dill and mint. I’m re-locating some mint I had in a container into this garden. And the parsley will go here too when it gets a bit bigger. Ideally I would have my herbs round the back near the kitchen, but that’s just a bomb site at the moment. Notice how I plant the mint in a pot with the bottom cut out to contain its rampant root growth. And everything gets a drink of the watered down worm tea.


Next time… looks like our tomato plants will be JUST big enough to plant.
Have a great week in the Spring garden!

From Jan, Rob and the Team at OEG!