That is, in the Southern Hemisphere, this being a NZ blog.
I was asked the question this week about what we should be planting vegetable wise at this time of the year.
A lot depends on how much room you have and how keen you are on growing your own vegetables. If you are fortunate and have a good size section such as quarter an acre then you can be fairly self sufficient in fresh produce. If you have only little land around your home then you have to be innovative with your limitations.
There are some nice planters you can purchase such as on Trade Tested 150 litre and 112 litre made from durable plastic at reasonable prices. These can be sat on concrete or at the edge of the lawn or where a garden used to be.
Place weedmat under them where ever you choose to put them.
I have several of these which arrived in a Flat Pack and were easy to assemble. Filled two thirds full with compost (I prefer Daltons Compost) and then I spread the likes of chicken manure (or any animal manures), Blood & Bone along with Wallys Calcium & Health, Wallys BioPhos, Wallys Unlocking your Soil and Wallys Ocean Solids.
This means your vegetables will have all the nutrients, minerals and trace element that they would like which means the produce will be super healthy, have marvelous flavor and so good for your immune system. Over the top of the goodies you put a further layer of compost about 4 cm thick. It is into this layer that you can plant seeds or seedlings.
With the longest day of the year next week we have optimum hours of daylight for growing stuff. You should have salad crops currently growing and harvesting as they mature such as lettuce, radish, spinach, silverbeet, spring onions etc.
The key here is to have small plantings every 2-3 weeks so you will have succession crops for harvesting. For instance you might plant 4-6 lettuce plants now and in about 3-4 weeks another 4-6. When the first lot are being harvested you plant the third lot and that will take you well into winter before you find that the low day light hours take much longer to mature the plants. Thus you can harvest the larger outside leaves and let the plant grow more leaves. Silver beet is a great one for this type of harvesting.
Now here is a little secret that you can use when you buy a punnet or cell pack that has many seedlings much more than you want to plant at one time. Before you try to separate them put the punnet into a bucket of water and after it has finished bubbling remove all the seedlings from the plastic. Now working underwater you can separate off the number of plants you wish to plant. Only take the bigger more developed plants and plant them. You are left with one or more clumps of seedlings so rather than throw them away plant into the soil as a clump. Because they are over crowded they will hold and not grow much.
In two weeks time you can lift the clump and under water separate those you wish to plant. This can be repeated a few times before the seedlings become too stressed and not worth planting.
December is also the first month to plant your winter crops of brassicas. The 6 packs that have two cabbage, two cauliflowers and two broccoli are ideal for succession planting so about every two weeks you plant another lot. The last month for planting these winter crops would be end of March.
If you have ample land and grow potatoes for Christmas or storage then likely the early crops will have been harvested or ready to harvest soon. It pays to either bandy-coot a few potatoes out from under the plants to determine size and health. If you don’t feel any good size tubers under the plants then lift one or two and if only small marble size potatoes are found and they are re-shooting then you have had attacks from the potato psyllids. If the tubers are of good size then cut one in half to inspect the inside for dark rings if found then the crop is ruined from psyllid attacks. If neither of these problems exist then harvest your crop as soon as possible so you do not lose good potatoes to late attacks.
Last year about this time some gardens lifted a plant or two to find good tubers but left the rest of the crop in. Later when they lifted the remained of the crop had been attacked and was ruined. If you do not want to lift then cut the tops off and cover the stubble so the Psyllids have nothing to destroy.
My thoughts are lift crop and use that ground after applying more goodies for planting up winter crops. Root crops such as carrots, parsnips, onions and beetroot can be planted by sowing seeds into loose fertile soil. Sprinkle the seeds into a furrow or broadcast over say a square metre, spray the seeds with Magic Botanic Liquid before covering to speed up germination.
Keep moist by regular waterings. Later on when you have a good strike you can thin out the planting to give the bigger better plants more room to develop. Root crops are always best grown from seeds especially carrots and parsnips as they do not transplant well and you only get short stubby carrots to harvest.
You can buy coloured carrot seed from some seed suppliers for a bit of novelty and each has different health benefits also but all taste like carrots even the black and white ones.
It is also a good idea to start off a couple of tomato plants now which if you can’t purchase then grow from the laterals you are removing from your exist plants.
Now is about the last chance to grow heat loving plants such as capsicum, chili, egg plants, cucumbers, pumpkins. All of which are gross feeders so you could not only use Wallys Secret Tomato Food but also a drink every week of Wallys Liquid Plant food.
For the Cucumbers and pumpkin a weekly kick along using our Cucumber Booster that has two powerful nitrogen components.
That’s the gardening bit done and for those that like to know what they do not want you to know have a wee look at this link.
Phone 0800 466464
Garden Pages and News at www.gardenews.co.nz
Shar Pei pages at www.sharpei.co.nz
Mail Order products at www.0800466464.co.nz
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