25 April 2020

ANZAC Day and time to remember those who have sacrificed their lives for the greater good.

Time also to contemplate what the Alert Level 4 lockdown has meant for us. At Organic Edible Garden we are heartened by the number of people who’ve been keen to get food gardens started at home. As many people are saying, there are some silver linings to this pandemic.

Our main focus for this blog post is getting the first of our brassicas in and I couldn’t have dialled up a more perfect day than yesterday to plant out ours. Sunny and 23 degrees!

They’re going in the bed where the tomatoes were during the summer. The soil has been resting for a couple of weeks now. When I took the tomatoes out, I added compost and chicken manure and the worms have been busy working their magic.

Firstly I’m adding compost from our worm farm and some bought vermicast too.

In the planting holes I add neem granules. This is to ward off the white butterfly and fortunately I haven’t seen many of those this autumn at all. Neem is a great soil conditioner anyway.

After planting I add a ring of our Natures Organic Fertiliser, full of minerals and vitamins, round each plant to ensure the vegetables are nutrient-dense.

Then comes the line of defence against slugs and snails. A ring of coffee grounds goes round each plant. They find it a bit of challenge to climb over.

Then I make up yeast traps – 1 teaspoon of dried yeast and 1 teaspoon of white sugar in 1 cup of warm water, leave for about 5 minutes till the mixture foams, then pour into containers positioned in the soil at ground height. These 3 containers took 2 cups of mixture.

Then netting. This bed has a big investment of food in it – 2 heading broccoli, 2 sprouting broccoli, 3 green cabbages, 2 red cabbages and 3 cauliflower (the 3 broccoflower are still in the seed tray – they weren’t big enough to plant out) – and it’ll feed us for a while, so I’m even thinking I’ll take our torch out at night too to check on the snail and slug population.

Also planted today are 6 spinach seedlings.

Our cavolo nero kale planted a month ago is looking lovely.

The sugar snap peas loved that little period of rain we had a week ago and are looking healthy. I had put more climbing beans in too, but they just didn’t do, so out they came. I should have planted dwarf beans in autumn.

The onions and leeks are also pulling away. I kept the seed tray going and have had to replace the odd one here and there, but by and large they’ve done well.

I’ve ordered viola seed to grow in the onions and leeks beds to keep the weeds at bay, provide food for the beneficial insects and look pretty.

The carrots I sowed a couple of weeks ago are germinating nicely. Interestingly the ones in the shadow of the eggplant did the best. To that end I might try the wet towel trick again with the next lot of carrot sowing.

Our guava tree has produced an abundance of fruit again. We had to cut some branches off as they got too heavy with fruit and snapped. Picking guavas is hard and I might have ignored the fruit this year, but as it was easy to take the fruit off the cut branches, hubby filled bowls of them and I made guava puree. Place fruit in a pot and add a small amount of sugar and they cook down. Then you get an upper body workout as you push them through a sieve with a wooden spoon – takes ages. But oh my gosh, the taste is gorgeous! Nice that they follow blueberries, as I always grieve a bit at the end of blueberry season.

Speaking of delicious sweet treats, we’re having to eat up our pumpkins as they’re not keeping due to sunburn. So I made the Pumpkin Pie in Ripe’s Third Helping cookbook. We’ve all got so good at baking during lockdown haven’t we, and the great thing about this recipe is it only needs 2 tablespoons of that scarce commodity, flour. (FYI I only had 375g of cream cheese instead of 650g and 2 eggs instead of 3 and it worked perfectly well).

Next time I’m hoping we’ll be harvesting our potatoes and kumara! Go well in Alert Level 3.

(In case you were wondering where the marigolds from the old tomatoes bed ended up!)

Have a great week in the garden 🙂

From Jan, Rob and the Team at OEG!

12 Responses

  1. Hi Jan (and Rob) great post as always, thanks so much. Can you please tell me what was in the bed before the carrots went in? I’m learning about crop rotation. Cheers

    1. Hi Kate I had fruiting crops in here – eggplants and capsicums and a watermelon (because there was a tiny bit of space for it). So it’s going from fruiting to root crops, which is not the absolutely recommended way to go. It should be fruiting to leafy greens to nitrogen-fixing to root crops. But… when you’re organising your garden, you have to get some crops in at a certain time and others are still hanging on with plenty of food on them and not ready to vacate their space etc. So, try and work to the ideal, but if it doesn’t work, then just change the type of crop. That is definitely good enough 🙂

  2. Hi, love your blog. With the neem granules, is that about half a handful per planting hole? I’m never sure how much to put in.

    1. After sowing soak an old towel and lay it over the rows of carrot seeds. Make sure it stays damp (but not soaking wet) all the time. After around a week, take a peek underneath, and you should find all the seeds have germinated. If there’s nothing or not much up, leave it for a few more days. When the seeds have germinated and are about 1cm tall, remove the towel. Carrot seeds like constant even moisture and the dark.

  3. i always work from seeds as less than half germinate in the jiffy pots and during transplanting, all would die. So i sow the seeds direct into the raised garden beds. Is there anything i should do differently than what you are doing? Just put the purple cabbage seeds in on 29th April; and the asian broccoli have sprouted in the glasshouse. the other pot outside died after i harvested them.

    1. Hi Janet Important to make sure you get all the root of the seedling when you prick them out of the seed raising mix. Allow the seed raising mix to dry out a bit before pricking out (makes it easier to get all the root) and cut around the row of seedlings you’re pricking out with a knife. Use a dibber to make the hole in the new container and to settle the seedling in. Water lightly. At this time of the year don’t let the seedlings get too cold at night. Do you have success direct sowing into the garden bed? Regarding the asian broccoli, if you took just some of the shoots from the plant it might have kept going, but it probably struggled if you harvested them all at once. All the best 🙂

  4. Hello Jan and Rob,
    During this covid lockdown period I began to google organic gardening nz and found this site. I have been reading my way through the excellent articles,blogs, looking at the videos. All of this inspired me to use my covid time productively and reposition our vege garden. Like all good kiwi homes there is always 1/2 metre of builders mix spare and a few bags of cement. I repurposed all rocks and old broken concrete, made a surround and proceeded to move the dirt and resident plants to the new garden area. I have been amazed at what was still in the old garden and all plants have survived the move (so far) and seem to be adapting. Thanks for the great articles and handy hints.

    Regards Peter

    1. Good story Peter – thanks for sharing 🙂 Site plays an important part in the success of a food garden – we’re imagining you’ve now got more sun in the new position. All the best.

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