7 March 2022

Change of season and lots of reasons to be thankful we live in Aotearoa New Zealand!

In our garden we’re harvesting pumpkins.  Even though we’ll have to eat these up fairly quickly  ie  they won’t store all that well because they’re sunburned, I am dipping them in a baking soda solution to alkalise the skins to help with storage.  Buttercups don’t store well anyway, but if you have Crown or Ironbark or Butternut, you can use this method.  See how Rob harvests and stores his pumpkins.

It’s time to plant out leeks and onions, so as these are a long-term crop we need to organise crop rotation for winter planting.  Remember the ideal plan is…

nitrogen-fixing (green manure crops) to root crops to fruiting crops to leafy greens.

Of course we don’t have fruiting crops in winter.  It doesn’t have to be perfect, as bed availability often determines what goes in where.  The main thing is to change up the type of crop that succeeds the previous.

Even though our onion and leek seedlings are small, we’re getting them in now.  I noticed last year that getting leeks in in March meant we could eat them during winter, the traditional time.  I also planted onions in April last year and wasn’t harvesting them till December and I wished I’d had the space for leafy greens in December, so we’ll see if these ones planted in March this year can come out a bit earlier. I always keep the seedlings I don’t plant as they’re small and the hot days we’re having will see several need replacing.

Create trenches for the leeks so you can hill them up and have long white stems, and mounds for the onions to provide good drainage.  I’ve applied Dave’s Humate and Natures Organic Fertiliser in each case.

Carefully cut the seedlings out of the seed tray and wash the soil off in a bucket of water to which we’ve added a dash of liquid seaweed.  Then trim off the roots and tops and with a dibber, carefully plant the slips.

And these are the leeks which you can hardly see but at least you can see the shape of the trenches!

The plum has had a small prune.  I’ve mainly cut out the water shoots – the ones that look different from the branches with fruit-bearing spurs.  And I’ve trimmed the length of all the branches to the same height to ensure they have even fruiting.  There are five branches on our Luisa and 3-4 is ideal, but as Luisa is not a huge tree and ours is young, we’ll keep it as is for the time being.

The kumara gets a trim to focus the energy of the plants into the tubers.

Agria potatoes produced beautifully this year – not a massive amount which means I need to add more potassium to the soil next time, but a good size.

While we have lovely lettuces growing, I’m planting more (in between the beetroot and spring onions).

And also our first broccoli.  Into the broccoli bed, I’m adding our homemade compost, as well as worm castings from our Hungry Bin, chicken manure, Dave’s Humate, some gypsum as our soil has a high clay component and some Natures Organic Fertiliser.  These guys are big feeders and are in the ground for a reasonable period of time.  Netting your bed deters any white butterflies which could be flying in the autumn warmth.

I’m also sowing more broccoli, kale, cabbage, cauliflower, silverbeet, parsley, pea and lettuce seeds.  Remember Broccoli ‘Marathon’ and Cauliflower ‘All Year Round’ are the best varieties for warmer climates.

And lastly autumn sees the rise of the slug and snail population again unfortunately.  We’ve had so many months free of the blighters!  So be vigilant setting your yeast traps (1 teaspoon white sugar + 1 teaspoon dried yeast to 1 cup warm water).

Next time we’ll make new plants out of our strawberry runners and make more hot compost as we have a big heap of spent summer crops.

Happy Autumn gardening!

From Jan and Rob

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