October is the month when we sow and plant most if not all of our summer vegetables.
Our first zucchini has just gone in the ground. It’s going into the bed we had the green manure crop in and will be followed by cucumber, sweetcorn and pumpkins at the end of the month. The green manure crop has broken down so I’m just going to fork the bed over to aerate the soil, then put the goodies into each specific planting place, as the plants go in, rather than prepping the whole bed in one go. So before planting out the zucchini I added worm vermicast from our Hungry Bin, chicken manure and Natures Organic Fertiliser. That should change these yellowing leaves (a sign the plant has outgrown its pot) into green ones.
We’ve just come to the end of a First Quarter phase which is an ideal phase to plant out tomatoes (the next one comes up at the beginning of November), BUT it’s been a bit cold! Our tomatoes have been hardening off. I had to move them from the outdoor table, because it was too windy, to the front deck. And then with the polar blast, rather than bringing them inside again, I just covered them at night with frost cloth, and they seem fine.
So then I had to decide if this last weekend was the best time to plant them, and after a chat with Rob, I decided to plant them out this coming weekend in the Full Moon phase, when the forecast is for warmer weather to return. The reason I even debated this is because the plants are big enough to plant out. The point of the debate is that it’s better to wait until you’re sure your tomatoes will thrive when you plant them out. If they’re on the small side and your weather is cool, wait 2-3 more weeks.
I have however prepared the main tomato bed in anticipation. After clearing it, I forked it through. After our rainy winter, it is quite compacted.
Then I applied a layer of chicken manure, one of the multi-mineral fertiliser, a layer of our delicious homemade compost (I think it was the woodchips that made it so good) and I covered it, as the birds were just waiting for me to finish to get in and dig around for the worms. Cardboard is good for covering and black plastic too, if you have it.
Time to think about growing kumara slips. The mother kumara are planted in a half-half combo of potting mix and sand to produce slips for planting out. As you can see the kumara have already started to sprout.
I’ve made the codling moth traps for our fruit trees, which work well for guava moth too. The recipe is 5 cups of warm water, ½ cup of molasses, 1 cup cider vinegar, a squirt of dishwashing liquid and a dash of cloudy ammonia. Mix it all together, then pour into 2-litre milk bottles with handles that you’ve cut holes in on either side (these are our bottles from last year!). The holes are where the moths enter and drown, the handles are good to use to hang the bottles in the trees. Ideally you’d do this before bud burst. That’s the case for our apple, but the plum is already blossoming. Neither of our trees are affected (yet!), so the timing should be okay.
Other tips for controlling guava moth are sprinkling Neem granules around the base of the tree, and hanging little bags of Neem granules in the tree itself. The smell repels the moth.
And you can smear on some of our organic pruning wax about 10cm above the ground in a band around 4cm in height. If guava moth have overwintered in the soil, the larvae will be stopped in their tracks as they try to scale the trunk of the tree.
We’ll be planting all the other summer veges in about a month’s time, so I have just last night sown seeds for beans, watermelon, pumpkins and sweetcorn. These are big plants with big seeds, so we sow them in the pots they will be planted out from ie they won’t be pricked out. No need to sieve the potting mix either as you would for finer seeds. Also beans like as little root disturbance as possible. Lay your seeds on top of the soil and push down just a little bit with a finger. These pots are used ones I picked up from Kings Plant Barn – wash well in white vinegar to sterilise before re-use. If your local garden centre doesn’t do this, suggest they set a system like this up.
In September I let the flowers on our strawberries go. Up till then I’d been picking them off, allowing the plant to grow strongly. So now we have strawberries. Big delicious sweet ones which we’ll enjoy now for several months. Looks like we’re in for a good summer!
Happy spring gardening!
From Jan and Rob