17 October 2022

A super busy week in the garden, with planting early potatoes, tomatoes and sowing more carrots.  You can of course wait to plant your tomatoes till Labour Weekend (next weekend), or the week after that or even the week after that!

I had prepared the beds in advance – forking them through, adding layers of chicken manure, rock dust, humate and compost.  So firstly I set up our waratahs.

Then into the planting holes went a handful of gypsum to add calcium to the soil which is an important element for fruiting vegetables in particular. And also a sprinkling of Neem granules to ward off psyllids.  If your plants are tall, plant some of the trunk as well to encourage a good strong root ball.

Now, I had forgotten to sow the companion plants of tomatoes which are marigolds and basil, so I have to admit to picking up some punnets from a store.  They take ages to grow from seed unfortunately – you almost have to put them in at the same time as the tomatoes.  So I popped these plants in and around the tomatoes and gave it all a good water. 

I know the birds have got their eyes on these tomato beds looking for worms in the freshly turned soil, so I might well have to net them. 

3 tomato sites in all – the mixed one (above), the Romas

and three Scoresby Dwarfs which won’t need staking.

Now we wait for the tomatoes to settle in and take off and the next step, when they get to about 300-400mm, is to tie them up and delateral them.

In the meantime our early season potatoes Rocket and Swift are ready for planting.  They only take 8-9 weeks to maturity, so will be ready to serve up on Christmas Day.  For those following our progress, the Swift potatoes that I started chitting were a dead loss and I had to buy new seed potatoes.  The Rocket were fine.

The Jersey Bennes planted last month are up and off and hopefully they’ll be ready around the same time.  And I’m soaking and chitting Agrias now which can take 15-20 weeks and are called main crop potatoes. 

Our comfrey is big enough now to pluck a few leaves off and lay in the planting troughs.  As Rob says, comfrey can double your yield.  Just make sure if you’re planting comfrey that it’s Russian Bocking 14 which doesn’t self seed.

Also in the troughs are Neem granules to ward off psyllids (as with the tomatoes which are from the same solanum family), and some rock dust (Natures Organic Fertiliser).  Lay your chitted potatoes in the troughs (chits up) and knock some soil from the hills back over the potatoes just to cover them.  Water in well and net.

From the last Full Moon root crop sowing, we have lovely French Breakfast radishes pulling away (all thinned), but hungry birds got in under the netting and disturbed all the carrot seedlings (sigh!), so I’m simply re-sowing.

And just as we eat up our last parsnip from last year’s sowing (cut out the woody centres if need be), now’s the time to sow parsnips for eating next winter. 

Parnsips are easy to germinate and grow – a rewarding crop.  But… I don’t have any room this month!  My parsnips will have to go in next month, as I don’t have the heart to pull out the last of our brassicas which haven’t quite matured but are looking gorgeous!

Enjoy the rest of this lovely spring month.

From Jan and Rob

18 Responses

    1. Yes, Rob grew them last year for the first time and they were amazing. Big tomatoes, juicy, and they grow over the ground.

  1. My friend had to dig up her recently planted ‘swift’ seed potato’s. There apparently is an issue with them. They got a full refund.

  2. Another informative post. Thanks! Could you tell me how long you soak the potatoes for…I’ve never done that!

  3. Hi. Great to see Comfrey promoted. I use as it is and as a tea. Unknown name but sends up new shoots. Is that what you call self seeding?
    Re Neem in plant holes, can I use a powder or diluted liquid mix as alternative to granules please? Many thanks

    1. Hi Victoria By self-seeding we mean that the comfrey pops up in places it hasn’t been before (which isn’t ideal as it’s hard to dig out and can sort of take over). The Russian Bocking 14 Cultivar just pops up where it’s been before and doesn’t spread (and that’s the habit we like). Regarding neem, yes the powder is fine. Are you meaning neem oil when you say liquid? If so, we wouldn’t use neem oil in the planting hole.

  4. Thank you Jan and Rob 🌸I’m always so happy to get your emails 😄They are so helpful to know what, when and how to do things in the garden 🪴 Bless you 🙏🏻and your garden with cheerful fruitfulness 💚

    1. Hi Leone The product that is mainly rock dust that we use is Natures Organic Fertiliser. It used to be more widely available (like at Kings Plant Barn and some Placemakers stores), and we sell it on our site too… https://organicediblegarden.co.nz/product/natures-organic-fertiliser/ The company that makes it has closed down recently, so we have a few bags left. We do have another company that we can get supplies from which we will do and that will replace the Natures Organic Fertiliser product on our site.

      1. Thanks for that. It will be interesting to see what you replace it with. I recently bought a similar product from Fertile Fields in New Plymouth ‘rock plus’. I’ll be watching to see how different the plants are in terms of their health and pests.

        1. Hi Leone I tried to find Fertile Fields online to have a look at the product you bought and wasn’t able to. Are they still operating?

  5. I have planted three varieties of heritage tomatoes this year. They are growing exceptionally well, but seem to be not flowering or setting fruit. The beds had a good dose of compost before planting and I put blood and bone and Epsom salts in the planting holes. I have tried another dressing of b n b since.
    As a side note, my early potatoes have also grown very tall. Same treatment on planting.
    I’m disappointed because I was looking forward to comparing the different varieties.
    Any suggestions re how to increase flowering

    1. Hi Gae Blood and Bone has no potassium in it and potassium is what soils need for flowering plants. Blood and Bone only has nitrogen (leaves) and phosphorus (roots). We suggest you apply some of Yates Sulfate of Potash to correct the soil and you should see a difference. Potatoes are in the same family as tomatoes, so the same applies to them. Comfrey is also full of potassium – you can buy it ready-made (see our Shop) or make it yourself and apply as a liquid feed over the leaves. We would start with the Sulfate of Potash. All the best 😊

  6. Good morning Rob and Jan, I am in the Wellington area – My tomatoes went in at the beginning of october as we were going away and I thought I would get the jump on planting. Now I have been in the garden and I see (what all seemed to be going so well) the tomatoes have a grey stem and leaves yellow and grey spots and stems grey spots. What would you advise?
    Regards Peter

    1. We would think it’s most likely blight, a fungal disease. Tomatoes are so prone to it. Gently remove the infected leaves by lifting them up and down and hopefully they’ll snap off. If they don’t, use secateurs which have been dipped in methylated spirits to sterilise them. Best NOT to put the infected leaves in your compost or worm farm. If you can get your hands on some Flowers of Sulphur powder, then using a paint brush, paint the powder on. Then get some Grosafe Free Flo Sulphur, mix with water according to the instructions, and apply to the whole plant (morning or evening or when it’s cooler). Repeat the following week, then 10-14 days ongoing. All the best 😊

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