2 September 2023

The start of the spring months and what an amazing full moon that Blue Moon was!  In honour of the Blue Moon I sowed parsnip seeds yesterday.  We don’t have room for sowing any carrots at the moment, but if you do, now’s a good time to put a crop in.  I forked through the patch well to make sure the soil was friable enough to accommodate the long parsnips, then added in some commercial compost which is nice and fine and fluffy, some of our well-balanced fertiliser, and raked it smooth.  You don’t need anything more than the one fertiliser, used mainly for its phosphorus which stimulates root growth.

Make rows with the top of the handle of the rake and evenly sow the seeds.  I used the back of the head of the rake to knock the soil over the rows, then tamped it down gently but firmly.  Give it all a good water and net to keep the birds at bay.

When planning where to plant parsnips, I like to put them at the beginning or end of a bed.  They’re there for around 9 months, so you want to give them the space to just be.

We have pricked out our tomato seedlings.  We wash out the pots from last year in a solution of water and white vinegar.

I pop a pinch of our fertiliser in the pots with the potting mix, just to give the plants a bit of a boost as they grow. 

Use your dibber to make holes, label the pots, then with a knife, carefully cut the seedling out of the punnet, and holding it by the leaf (so as not to damage the stem) transplant into the pot.  Try and bring as much soil on the root over as you can, as this gives the seedlings less of a shock.

We fill a tub with water and a splash of liquid seaweed and soak the pots, before popping them on a tray and, in our case, onto the windowsill (you may have a greenhouse).  Our seedlings will now grow on in these pots till the end of October, when we plant them out.

After sowing these seeds, I mentioned to Rob that I felt a bit disheartened, imagining these sweet little plants were going to succumb eventually to blight in our humid climate.  He suggested I do a soil test in case there was something missing in our soil, so I sent a sample off to Hills Laboratories.  While results all looked fine at first glance, we then noticed that the sulphur level was low and the pH really high.  Without this information, I might have diagnosed the opposite  ie  that our soil was too acidic, but here was proof that it was too alkaline.  Tomatoes, potatoes and strawberries all like a soil that is mildly acidic, so I have my fingers crossed, we could have found a solution.  I’ve ordered some elemental sulphur, and will be applying it to the whole garden as soon as it arrives!

Sulphur is used to keep fungal infections in check, it’s essential to chlorophyll production, and also helps metabolise nitrogen. So let’s see how we go this time round with the tomatoes!

We have sown pea seed in cells and they’re germinating nicely.  We’ll be able to plant them out in the next week or so.

I’ve also sown a whole lot of different flowers. Borage, cosmos, cornflower, zinnia, sunflower, marigold.  And there’s basil in there too, just because I like to plant it with the marigolds around our tomatoes.  The sunflower seeds are really too big to be planted like this – best done in single cell pots! 

Our rhubarb plant has formed a few crowns, and is losing vigour.  I think this is partly due to it having sunk down in the lawn and therefore it’s had to deal with the wet. 

So I figured it was time to divide it up and replant it.  It was just a matter of digging the whole thing up.  Amazing what the roots look like, almost as big as the plant itself.  I chopped it into the various crowns, then chose a piece that had a good bit of root on it and replanted that, raising it nice and high with added compost, and applying chicken manure and some Morganics fertiliser. 

I have subsequently netted it because I did use some vermicast out of the Hungry Bin in the bottom of the hole and the birds had spotted the few worms and were in immediately!

The strawberry plants are just sitting in their bed, but soon they’ll pull away I’m sure.  Lots of flowers are appearing on them, but I’m nipping them off to allow the plant to focus on leaf and root growth. Will just monitor them for a few more weeks.

It’s a good time now to fertilise your fruit trees.  I add chicken manure and our Morganics fertiliser and layer grass clippings round the trunk. If your fruit trees are big, add the fertiliser round the dripline, where the tiny terminal feeder rootlets are located that take up water and nutrients from the soil.

In a couple of weeks I’ll start chitting our early potatoes.  I plan to put the Jersey Bennes and Cliff Kidneys in the ground at the beginning of October, and the quick-growing Swift in at the end of the October.

And in the middle of the month I’ll dig this lovely bed of lupins in, so it has around 6 weeks to break down before being planted in.  The rangy heritage tomatoes are destined for this bed.

Looking forward to sunshine and warmth! 🌞


From Jan and Rob

4 Responses

  1. I really enjoyed tonight’s talk at Onetangi Waiheke. Thank you for the gentle responses to all our questions.

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