February 2023

The sun is finally shining at our place and our garden has survived the big rains amazingly well.  The depth of porous material in our garden beds, mainly from constant adding of homemade compost, helped soaked it up, and apart from some lettuces which I should’ve harvested before the deluge and consequently rotted, we were lucky. New ones already in to replace them.

The main thing to be doing now is sowing onion and leek seeds.  Fresh seeds are important for successful germination.  I got new packets of the tried and true ‘Pukekohe Longkeeper’ and ‘Californian Red’ onions and some ‘Musselburgh’ leeks from our local garden centre.  I’ve had them in the fridge for a couple of weeks, so hopefully that starts us off well. 

You need a container that’s deeper than the usual one with holes in the bottom.

This year Rob and I are bolstering up the potting mix we sow our seeds in to ensure strong, resilient seedlings.  Last season my onions were a lot of work for not that much of a harvest, although having said that I was adding some of our own ones to a tomato relish last week, and they are so crisp and fresh.  (My storage system seems to be working this time!)  Homegrown ones are a real delight to cook with.

So, we’re adding a layer of sheep pellets in the bottom of the tray (if you can crush them up a bit, all the better – mine aren’t very well done).  Then sieve potting mix to which we’re adding a couple of tablespoons of a well-balanced organic fertiliser.  Using a bit of dowling or angle iron to make your rows, sow, cover, label (with the date on the back), and sit in a container which has had 2-3 capfuls of liquid seaweed added for 20-30 minutes to ensure the seed raising mix is completely moist.

Finally we create a nice environment for germination by laying a cake rack over the top and a tea towel which we keep damp.

Rob sowed his seeds 3 weeks ago and his leeks and onions are up, but it’s a no-show with the red onions (and that can just simply happen).

Despite battling blight, our tomato haul has been good and I’m just keeping up with preserving them.  I planted two ‘Moonglow’ (golden) tomatoes and got beauties from one plant, but the other turned out to be red and the fruit was a bit tasteless. All our indeterminate tomatoes were grown from seed I saved last year.  This error can happen in 5% of cases ie that the seed is not true to type, and I just lucked out.  The other tomato seeds from last year will be sufficient for sowing again this year, but in the case of the ‘Moonglow’, I’m going to save seeds from the good ‘Moonglow’ this year, to try and ensure 100% true to type.  With the lack of sun, I’m not sure I’m going to get any more good specimens, so I’ve started the process with this one.  See here for how to save tomato seeds.

Our Agria and Heather seed potatoes have germinated and are away.  Time to hill them up.

Our strawberries are finished and starting to put out their runners to make new plants out of.  It’s not time to do that yet, but I’ve taken the netting off them so they can run freely and not get caught up in the net.

While we’re farewelling lots of the summer fare, there are still some lovely healthy eggplants and capsicums yet to come.  The plants are loaded, so really looking forward to those. 

And we have new zucchini and cucumber plants on the way, as well as watermelons, so still lots of summer delights to enjoy.

Hope it’s all going well at your place.


From Jan and Rob