We’re enjoying the Xera dwarf beans we planted a few weeks back, but due to the wide range of conditions so far this summer, I’ve held off planting out my cucumbers and chillis until later than usual. Both like consistent warm soil conditions and sunny days to thrive.
Both these crops are planted into beds to which we’ve added lots of organic matter in the form of compost. This not only makes the soil more friable and aerated, but also helps hold moisture and feeds the plants. A side dressing of chook poo and volcanic rock dust and it’s ready to plant.
I’ve planted a variety of cucumbers – the easy-to-grow Lebanese type which are sweet and crunchy, the old-fashioned apple cucumber for great flavour and a few gherkins to make pickles – way too much for a single family but any excess can be given to friends and neighbours.
I’ve used coconut matting as a mulch. This helps retain moisture, suppresses weeds and helps keep the fruit off the soil. It’s a good idea to place a stick at the base of each plant so you know where the roots are to water once they spread out.
The capsicums and chillis are planted in similarly-prepared soil. I love growing the bull horn type capsicums. They seem easier to grow than the blocky types and produce a good crop every year.
After planting, it’s best to stake each plant with 2 or 3 bamboo sticks in teepee style. The plants get quite heavy with fruit and if you don’t stake them, they can fall over in the wind. If you do this at planting time, there’ll be less chance of root disturbance.
Finally, add a good covering of mulch and water in well to give the plants a good start. Both these crops are easy to grow and don’t usually suffer from pests. However, my local pukekos enjoy pulling out the plants as soon as they can, so I have to hoop and net them until they’re established.
Happy gardening over the holiday period!
From Rob, Jan and the Team at OEG
1 June 2019
With the weather getting colder, it’s a matter of taking advantage of the good days to get out into the garden. Our main winter crops are all in, but there are always jobs to do.
Making sure the weeds don’t take over the beds is always a priority. I’m not sure where they come from, but I’m always surprised how hardy they are.
And while you’re weeding, use your Niwashi to hill up the broccolis, kales and caulis to give them more support on windy days. Remove the lower leaves to make this task easier.
An application of sheep pellets which are slow-release and a liquid fertiliser like seaweed at this time of the year helps keep our plants strong.
If there are any parts of your garden not planted, it’s best to cover them. Rain and frost can damage the soil structure and cause it to become compacted. This is not good for the earthworms, bacteria and fungi in your soil. Planting a green manure crop like lupins has many benefits or cover the soil with a mulch like straw or cardboard.
If the beds are large, I cover them with a woven weed mat (which we re-use every year).
Another good option is coconut fibre matting. It breaks down after a season or two and is good for the garden.
Covering hoops with a product like Mikroclima to make a cloche helps the plants grow a little quicker. Mikroclima lets the rain and air in and increases the soil temperature by up to 4 degrees – a real bonus during winter.
June is a good time to plant deciduous fruit trees like apples, pears and plums. Make sure you plant your fruit trees properly (adding plenty of compost to the planting hole, staking and pruning back) as the trees reward you for many years to come. Remember that most trees need a pollinator to fruit successfully.
During cold wet days, cosy up and read some gardening books!
From Rob, Jan and the Team at OEG!
3 May 2019
The weather is really starting to cool down. The crisp cool mornings and clear sunny days of autumn are a perfect time to be in the garden.
Growth is slowing down (and so is the germination of weeds thankfully). But it’s not too late to plant more crops in the garden if you’ve got space.
When planting in one bed, it’s a good idea to plant crops that have similar requirements. Here we’re planting a root crop bed. Firstly, we add a good amount of compost to the bed.
This not only raises the bed and improves drainage, but helps with soil structure and keeps the earthworms happy.
With root crops, it’s best not to have too much nitrogen in the soil (unless you grow beetroot for the leaves rather than the bulb). In our case we’re not going to add animal manures.
Phosphorus and other elements are more important to size up the roots quickly. Phosphorus is found in good quantity in Natures Organic Fertiliser which has seaweed, volcanic rock and worm castings in it.
The crops we’re planting here are Florence fennel, beetroot, kohlrabi and radishes.
Florence fennel is an easy-to-grow cool-weather crop that has a long tap root.
As fennel doesn’t grow well with other plants, we plant a row of flowers to separate them from the other crops. Cold-hardy dianthus is not only good for insects and colour, but is great added to a winter salad.
Kohlrabi is an old-fashioned vegetable that’s coming back into vogue. It’s a cross between a cabbage and a turnip – great raw in coleslaws or added to soups and stews. We’re planting the purple variety which looks like a funky alien spaceship when fully grown.
Radishes are the most nutritious of the root crops. They (like carrots) are best planted from seed. We sow quite thickly to ensure good germination and will thin them out as they grow.
Important as always to cover the bed with netting for the first few weeks to give the plants a chance to get established. Water well and if the weather stays fine, give them a second watering a day or two later.
Make the most of the gorgeous autumn days!
From Rob, Jan and the Team at OEG!