19 September 2022

Full Moon has just been (apologies for not getting this post out sooner!) so our focus has been on root crops.

I’m handling early potatoes in two lots this year.  The Jersey Bennes have been chitting for a month now – they take longer in the ground than other early ones, but they taste the best, so they’re going in this week.

So as I complete the weekly soaking for the Jersey Bennes, now the Rocket and Swift potatoes go into the liquid seaweed, then egg cartons and onto the windowsill to chit for a month.  As you can see, the Rocket are well advanced in the chit department.  The Swift seed potatoes don’t have a single chit on them, so it will be interesting to see if anything sprouts. They can’t be planted if they don’t.

It’s important that in between crops you enrich your soil with compost, so for the potatoes I’m just adding some beautiful vermicast from our Hungry Bin worm farm.  Look how fine a job the worms have done here. 

It’s quite magical how this (below) can become vermicast (above).

No need to fork the vermicast in, because we have to create troughs for the potatoes to be planted into and it’ll all get mixed in in the process.  You make the troughs by mounding up the soil on each side.  These mounds will be used in stages as the potato plants grow. Carefully place the potatoes in the troughs with the chits up.  At this stage we add some Neem Tree granules over the potatoes to ward off psyllids.

Knock a bit of the soil over the potatoes until they’re reasonably well covered.  We add handfuls of rock dust (Natures Organic Fertiliser) and blood and bone along the troughs and net it all.

When our comfrey takes off, we’ll add it to the troughs, but as you can see it’s pretty small at the moment.  The orchard alyssum planted a couple of weeks ago is slowly coming away and the flimsy barriers are holding up.

Next I direct sow some root crops – carrots (for the first time since May), spring onions and radish.  Carrots and onions are companion plants.

This bed has had brassicas in it previously, so is a bit compacted.  I fork the soil well to aerate it, especially as the vegetables going in are root crops which need friable soil to be able to penetrate deep down.

Then I add bought compost as it’s nice and even and fine for the little seeds to come to life easily in.  I mix a few handfuls of Natures Organic Fertiliser and some Dave’s Humate into this compost as I rake it out till it’s smooth.  Then create rows with the end of the rake and evenly sow the seeds. 

You can cover the rows over with your hand or, as I observed my father doing when I was a child, with the back of the rake head, then evenly with the rake head tamp the soil down. 

Water well.  Keeping the patch moist is one of the keys to successful germination.  Net against birds.

I am sorry to report that while I have beautiful strong garlic plants, they have rust..

I’m cutting off all the worst affected leaves and spraying weekly with liquid seaweed.  Hopefully that’ll mean the plants keep growing strongly, as they were so fabulous till the start of this month.  Rightly or wrongly, I haven’t cut all the rusted leaves off and that’s because I want to leave enough greenery for photosynthesis to take place. The Mikroclima served to get the plants off to a great start, but not good enough to keep rust out.

Our beetroot sown at the end of May are coming away nicely.  All they need now is a side dressing of Natures Organic Fertiliser and they should be a good size in the next month or so.

Time to feed the fruit trees.  Our citrus is alive but not thriving.  In fact I’ve had to replace the ‘Meyer’ lemon (in the middle).  It’ll be about having clay soil and too much rain, but I’m a patient sort and I reckon they’ll pull away one of these days.  Right now I’m feeding the trees with sheep and chicken pellets (I don’t have much of these, so there’s some chicken manure in the barrow there too) and Natures Organic Fertiliser and surrounding this with some of our lovely tree mulch. The deciduous trees just require the rock dust (Natures Organic Fertiliser).

And lastly, in further praise of worms – this guy was uncovered when I was planting the potatoes – their top and bottom are in the soil, but they measured about 20cm!  What a beauty!

OK, keep up with your spring mahi and we’ll talk soon. 

From Jan and Rob

14 Responses

  1. hi Jan and Rob, I transplanted a young Meyer lemon from the ground to a pot to leave in the greenhouse a year ago. it hasn’t taken off. I kept up with watering every 2nd – 3rd day. There’s no new leaves and the stems look brown. Do you reckon it’s dead?

  2. HI Janet

    How long do you leave the seed potatoes in liquid seaweed before placing in the egg catrons? I is it just a one off or do you repeat the process at all?

    Warm Regards

    Tracey Woulfe

  3. I get my earlies chitting as soon as they come into the shops. Illam Hardy are my favourite, they seem to tolerate a bit of frost, hence their name I guess.
    You can initiate chitting and kill any bugs with a weak bleach solution.
    Make a 10 to one mix of water and household bleach. Drop the potatoes into the solution. Let them soak for five minutes. This kills most bacterial and fungal diseases.
    Garlic rust is becoming more widespread it seems, although yours look well grown and should produce a crop. Best to spray with copper at an early stage, especially if it is wet.

    1. Isn’t sulphur what needs to go on against the rust. And every week and / or after every rain. Yates lime sulphur is an option.


    1. Hi Derek Rob says he wouldn’t put them in the compost that goes on the food garden. The leaves are toxic, so there’s a question mark over the flowers.

  5. Hi Jan,
    Sadly on the West Coast of the South Island several of us have given up growing garlic outside because of rust.
    Didn’t find regular sprays of liquid copper any help. Also tried sprays of diluted hydrogen peroxide with no success.
    We now plant garlic in our hot houses in April and harvest before Christmas.
    Last year the bulbs were really large.
    This is my 2nd year growing this way and the garlic plants look big and healthy thus far. Cross fingers

    1. Interesting Pat. Thanks for your sharing your experience. Mine are hanging on because they started off so well. But they might not mature properly. Don’t have a greenhouse unfortunately 😊

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