Plant leafy greens now; and save some for seeds

Plant leafy greens now; and save some for seeds

Leafy greens grow best in cooler, moister conditions. Sometimes we are lucky about this time of year. We have lots of varieties to choose from so now is a time for quick-maturing ones and heat-resistant varieties too. Those planted now will mature in warmer weather to keep an eye on them.

Watch out for a short hot spell which sends them to seed. Get ready to harvest leaves [they keep in the fridge for some days].

If it gets warm, well, that’s great for other crops so when we lose the lettuces we gain great tomatoes, pumpkins and zucchinis etc. So, for me, its all in how I look at the situation. We also grow mizuna, magenta spreen and other greens to fill the gaps.

When the leafy greens do bolt to flower and seed, that’s a great time to save yourself some well-adapted seeds which can regrow next season.

Plants which have grown well, producing abundant leaves over a long time – your best performers – are prime ones to save seeds from. Choose which now.

 

Choose the best performers and give them a  stake for support. As well as supporting the tall growth, the stake helps us remember to keep that plant for seed [and tells enthusiastic helpers to leave it alone!]

 

Could little lettuces, parsley, endive or silver-beet plants really need a stake?

They shoot up and up and up – as tall as me. And then blow over in strong winds; onto any other plants nearby. Not so good. Strong stakes support them and give an attachment point to confine their expansive spreading ways!

 

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Red-stemmed silver-beet and parsley flowering and seeding – 1.5 m tall and still going up!

 

How do we choose which plants to allow to seed and which not?

Here are the factors we use for saving leafy greens seeds:

PS

If we left the first plants to shoot up and seed, we are selecting for a shorter season of the leaves we like – hmmm.

 

Each garden is a unique little environment of its own – no two are the same.

We can take useful guidance from other gardens, yet the only way to find what works for us is by trying it in our own garden.

This also means that plants which grow wonderfully in our garden are adapted to our garden. They won’t necessarily do well in other gardens with different soil type, winds, rainfall, aspect [there’s a huge difference between north-facing and south-facing slopes]

Saving your own high-quality seed gives you a huge advantage next season in the garden which grew the seed!

 

Consider the whole life-cycle when you are choosing which plants to let flower and seed. There’s more about what to look for in this post.

Saving seeds is a wonderful adventure where we can experiment – and you never know when you will get wonderful types just right for you and your garden.

 

For a note about cross-pollination, see this important information

Pollen of one variety can cross-pollinate other similar types so it’s well worth finding which you need to be careful with.

Have a great time saving your very own seeds. For more about saving leafy green seed, here’s the post again.

 

Now, other useful info for planting seeds to produce great crops:

Best phase of the moon for lush leafy greens is the week after the new moon on Friday 20th October 2017.

Best days are

  • Saturday October 21st,
  • Sunday 22nd, then again
  • Wednesday pm 25th October through until Friday 27th October 2017.

 

May you and your garden flourish!

 

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Take a rest from sowing seeds this week

Take a rest from sowing seeds this week

It’s good this is a week to rest from sowing seeds – I could do with a catch-up time!

Especially as

NIWA’s recent report for October 2017 shows we are moving into more settled weather – hooray!

The winds up to now shredded new, tender leaves which had emerged. New ones starting now have a much better opportunity to grow.

The prediction is for warmer than usual and the northern areas to have north-east winds more frequently. These often bring warm, moist air so we may have more rain too.

Sounds really good for getting the garden to grow wonderfully!

So now is a great time to get ready to plant in a couple of weeks time:

  • Sort compost – everything grows better when well-fed
  • prepare garden beds
  • read up on this season and seed types to plant for success – they all have their favorite times. Which are your favorites to sow now?
  • learn more about the optimum conditions to grow GREAT crops of your favorite veg or fruit so you know what to do over their growing season.
  • Plan your next seed sowing, your garden layout, or crop rotation to minimize pest and diseases.

From 13th October 2017 until after the dark of the moon on Friday 20th October 2017 and then it’s time for seed sowing again.

As the moon nears its smallest visible ‘dark of the moon’ phase, it is best to take a week off from planting or sowing seeds at this time as it is associated with spindly, weak growth.

If you like experiments about when to plant for best results, check out this post for more on planting by the moon phases to see how the recommendations for best/worst seed sowing outcomes from moon-planting guides work for you. Maybe they do, and maybe they don’t.

An interesting experiment, is to plant the same seeds in rows right beside each other [so all other conditions are identical], and label the rows with the date of planting. Then sow seeds from 1 packet at weekly intervals, each week in a new row.

This way you can see how the recommendations for best/worst seed sowing outcomes from moon-planting guides work for you. Maybe they do, and maybe they don’t.

I enjoy experimenting with such ideas – and if only I can rescue the rows from the snails and black-birds, I might even get some results to share!

At the minimum, these moon planting guides remind me to plant SOMETHING, plan a little, and help me have a continuous supply!

Enjoying our gardens is the main idea for me, and I hope you too can wander around your garden and enjoy whatever it offers now.

Sow seeds of below-ground crops this week

Sow seeds of below-ground crops this week

 

This is a great time to start sowing heaps of root veg for maturing later and storing.

 

Carrots!

This is a good time for us to actually get them to grow as the ground is still moist here in Auckland.

Germination can be erratic and carrot seeds are tiny so are best planted just at the surface with a very thin covering of fine soil. Which means they dry out quickly too so keep a close eye on them and nurture the babies well so they grow good roots for later.

Aren’t the ferny fronds of carrot leaves so delicate compared to the fleshy root we eat? This patch has garlic, carrots and beetroot. Which are invisible below the ground. We never quite know what the harvest will be like, so a sense of adventure and optimism always helps explorations.

We ‘mix and match’ different plants for diversity, pest minimization, and just for the fun of it.

Here the carrots are paired with garlic [taller spikes of leaves at the back] in the hope that the stronger garlic smell will cover the scent of carrots which attract carrot fly [which eat the roots].

These are ‘Egmont Gold carrots which were said to be more resistant to these pests than other varieties in trials carried out by friends. Worth a try.

 

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Recommended best days for planting seeds to grow great root crops are

  • Saturday October 7th through to the morning of Monday 9th October 2017
  • and again on Thursday 12th October

Often planting charts talk generally of sowing these seeds during the week after the full moon on Friday 6th October, as it appears to get smaller.

Root crops now could include carrots, beetroot, radish, parsnip and similar.

 

carrot-and-daikon-roots

 

Tubers such as potatoes or sweet potato [kumera] 

This is late for us to plant potatoes [we plant them to crop before the psyllid bugs are out in force when the weather warms up].

And is early to plant kumera  which likes heat so if planted now, they would like a ‘mini hot-house’ over the green shoots for protection still.

These kumera were sprouted on the kitchen bench. The shoots were cut off well above the tuber [so no disease was included] then placed into a jar of water to see the tiny new roots form. I find it amazing each time I see such wonderful growth which is usually invisible in the soil – roots astonish me with how fast they can grow!

For more about our kumera growing experiments, here’s a previous post.

 

We will also plant

Beetroot  Eg, this is ‘chiogga’ which grows alternating layers in circles of pink and white flesh. Sweet and very nice.

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Beetroot seed is really a group of seeds joined together so they tend to grow in a clump.

Often directions say to thin out the smaller seedlings to leave the bigger one to grow.

We leave them all to grow usually, until one root is big enough to pick, remove it, and leave the smaller ones to grow bigger. Less effort and easier all round. Mostly it works.

 

Daikon radish is a long Asian variety

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Young ones like this are a tasty addition to stir-fries or curries or soups or casseroles.

We eat the white root part – nicest when small as older ones can get strong-tasting. The green leaves are also edible and treasured in some Asian cooking.

Said to be great support for liver function – so I think that means it helps our liver deal with all the variety of other chemicals it processes – everything from food and drink to contaminants in these or in the air or water we consume. Seems a simple way to support our well-being so we try different options.

We also use them also for loosening heavy soil [aka the clay of the suburban yard where we live]. The bonus is also getting a harvest to eat.

 

 

 

Sow seeds for fruits and flowers this week

Sow seeds for fruits and flowers this week

Down-under this week is a time we can sow seeds for optimum growth of fruits and flowers – especially Friday 29th September 2017, Saturday 30th then again on Tuesday 3rd October and Wednesday 4th too.  [here in New Zealand].

 

The ground is still cold in shaded places here in Auckland. Sow out in warm, sunny ground now for best results.

 

A heat-pad [often sold at pet stores to keep pets warm] gives bottom heat to punnets/pots/trays which greatly helps some seeds to germinate the ‘warmth-lovers’ – tomatoes, eggplant, chilies, capsicum, melons, pumpkins, zucchinis, cucumbers and similar.

 

 

We will sow

  • pumpkins/squashes/zucchini [courgettes]/cucumbers – if you have lots of space, compost and warmth
  • Flowers – sow summer and autumn flowering ones now – so wonderful in the garden to uplift spirits and bring joy to humans as well as encourage bees and other beneficial insects too.

 

 

This week the moon is growing towards full and the days listed are when many aspects line up to give optimum good germination for strong seedlings if the outside climate is provided for their needs. See more about planting by the moon here.

 

PS.  The full moon is on Friday 6th October 2017.

 

 

Equinox and Spring effects in a garden

Equinox and Spring effects in a garden

Since the winter solstice, the days have been getting longer, here in New Zealand. Then comes the equinox – when day and night are equal length. 12 hours each. What an interesting moment in the year.

Here in New Zealand, its on 23rd September 2017 at 8.02 am – so precise! [Aren’t astronomers amazing to be able to define such points in time so specifically?]

And then we have more light than darkness each day until the summer solstice.

Woo hoo! Summer is returning!

Time to start the new cycle of growth into the warmer weather. This is really the beginning of the new growing season [no matter that our ‘calendars’ say ‘Spring’ begins at the start of September]

Time to start more lettuce and summer greens. New root crops. Fruits and seeds too. All can begin again now.

It’s time to start the warmth-lovers too now – in a protected place [hot-house, window-ledge, cloches over pots on a patio, on a heat-pad]. By the time they are ready to plant outside there will be enough light and heat for them to flourish [end of October or early November usually]. Tomatoes, cucumbers, melons, pumpkins, chilies, capsicum, egg-plant, bitter melon and more.

We start these warmth-lovers inside on a heat-pad [for bottom warmth in the pots] then as their tiny first leaves shoot through the soil surface they are moved into bright light [outside for preference] so they grow sturdy stems. We still protect them with plastic covers and keep them on the patio in the warmer part.

If seedlings stay in low light, they stretch up searching for more light and become ‘leggy’ with delicate stems. Much more fragile and easily damaged when transplanting.

How warm is the soil compared with the air?

The open ground is often still cold even when the air is warm, especially in shaded and soggy places.  Few plants enjoy being planted into cold, soggy ground.

Wet ground takes longer to warm up than drier soil.

Check first – feel the soil with your skin. If its cold to your skin, its cold to a seed/seedling – which will sit and hardly grow at all. Then they are subject to all sorts of pests and diseases as they have little resistance. We do our best to grow strong, healthy plants by giving them the conditions they prefer.

With so much rain making for saturated soils here, gardening is challenging. This is when lighter soils and high organic content are a real benefit – there is still air space in the soil for healthy roots. It really pays to create soil with high organic content.

[PS – walking on soggy beds compacts them so there is no air in the soil for plant roots – put boards down to stand on if you must walk on the beds]

 

As the ground warms up, the ‘Spring flush‘ takes off, everything seems to sprout and grow upwards in leaps and bounds!

 

Often the first we realize is when our food crops shoot upwards and turn woody.

Crops which run to seed in Spring

Crops which have been feeding us through-out winter suddenly change – producing a tall flowering stalk and then masses of seeds. Lettuce, silver-beets, carrots, beetroot, parsnip, radishetc suddenly shoot up flowering stalks from the root in the ground.

[PS – this time of the year is a good time to keep an eye on root crops and pull any starting to shoot up before the roots turn really woody and become inedible]. Or to save your own seeds of your best ones – well-adapted to your area.

Choose the best plant of that crop to save your own seed. Check out how to collect true-breeding seeds of that crop before you begin.

  • Some are very easy to save true [eg lettuce].
  • Some require exclusion of other similar types and their pollen.

For example, beetroot and silver-beet will cross so we grow them far enough apart that seed stays true to the parents.

 

 

It is a great feeling to save seeds from your best plants so next year you will have quality seeds which work well in your place.

For more about saving seeds, here’s a post I wrote.

This is a great time to sort out seeds and get started planting for your summer and autumn meals. Plant what you and your family like to eat so there is an incentive to look after them too.

Use this ‘Spring flush’ to your advantage – when seeds make wonderful progress quickly, easily.

It’s time to imagine your vibrant, flourishing garden and to start sowing heaps of whatever it is that you like for this wonderful season [well, maybe that which grows in this season in your region too]

 

Have a wonderful Spring!

May you and your garden flourish!
Heather

 

It’s time to sow seeds of leafy greens this week

It’s time to sow seeds of leafy greens this week

Sow seeds for luscious, tender leafy greens this next week – and best days are Thursday 21st September 2017 to Monday  25th [here in New Zealand]

 

 

In Auckland the weather has been alternated between winter chills and winds off the Antarctic through to warm and wet weather out of the tropics.  Welcome to Spring!

Let’s hope for good germination!  I will sow seeds throughout the week of

  • Lettuce – I left many varieties to seed so hopefully some will do well no matter what the weather does this year – hot/dry/cold/wet.
  • Silver-beet [including rainbow chard/ bright light beets – the ones with vibrant colored stems – so stunning to see in a garden] we left to seed in the garden and they are sprouting up now
  • Rocket [Arugula] is tasty rather than bitter at this time. We plant 2 types – the large leaf annual and the stronger, smaller-leaf perennial rocket
  • Mustard greens, or the giant red mustard is pretty nice early in the season before the heat of summer adds too much pepper bite.
  • Asian greens [assorted] – here they grow well in the cooler months – they grow so fast! We have Mizuna self-seeding. We grow 2 types – an ordinary green one as well as the deep red one – stunning in the garden [for a short time]
  • Endive  We grow 2 types – a broader leaf variety and a lovely fine, frilly variety. They are lovely and tender in cooler months so we enjoy them now. Both grow more slowly than lettuce.

This is a great time to have leafy greens grow well – they love cooler, wetter times.

 

Later, when the weather warms up they bolt to seed fast and produce fewer leaves which easily go bitter.

Enjoy delightful salads with a range of leaf types in these Spring months.

Take a rest from sowing seeds this week – do other garden stuff instead

Take a rest from sowing seeds this week – do other garden stuff instead

From Tuesday 12th September 2017 until after the dark of the moon on Wednesday 20th September 2017.

As the moon nears its smallest visible ‘dark of the moon’ phase, it is best to take a week off from planting or sowing seeds as this time gives least strong outcomes.

This week is a time for other things – prepare more garden beds for the big Spring planting, or go through those seed supplies from past years and get them ready for sowing over the next weeks. Or get clear on what you will plant this season, and where.

Seeds have limited life and are far more likely to give strong, healthy plants when the seed is fresh.

 

Like to experiment with moon-planting?

If you like experiments, a great one is to plant the same seeds in rows right beside each other [so all other conditions are identical], and label the rows with the date of planting. Then sow seeds from 1 packet at weekly intervals, each week in a new row.

This way you can see how the recommendations for best/worst seed sowing outcomes from moon-planting guides work for you. Maybe they do, and maybe they don’t.

Planting by the moon gives this week as poor for germination and health of seedlings. Do you find good germination and strongly growing seedlings emerge – or not? An interesting experiment.

I enjoy experimenting with such ideas –  if only I can rescue the rows from the snails and black-birds!

 

At the minimum, these guides remind me to plan a little to plant SOMETHING!

Enjoying our gardens is the main idea for me, and I hope you too can wander around your garden and enjoy whatever it offers now.