Sow seeds of leafy greens this week

Sow seeds of leafy greens this week

Sow seeds for leafy greens next week,

especially Sunday 25th June and early morning of Monday 26th June [here in New Zealand]

After the new moon on Saturday 24th June 2017.

And we are after the solstice too so new beginnings call us.

In Auckland the cold weather has set in and plants in the open ground are only growing slowly, if at all.

I still can’t resist planting, its such an optimistic effort, even at this colder time of the year. I plant seedlings rather than seeds now. Then cover them with a plastic tunnel to warm the ground and protect the delicate seedlings from the cold winter winds.

Beans growing in winter under a plastic tunnel 20170529
Growing in winter under a plastic tunnel 

The seeds sown in autumn of silver-beet, red-stemmed beets, parsley and rocket which are beside the covered bed are green, vibrant and able to withstand winter now. They will feed us through until spring.

This is a time to harvest what was sown earlier in the year:

  • Lettuce – a number of varieties mature in cooler weather – which they like.
  • Endive – we like the ‘tres fine maraichere‘ variety with its fine frilly abundant leaves – and is tasty rather than bitter for a long time – and forms a lovely ground cover if planted close together
  • Silver-beet and ‘bright lights beets’ [with beautiful colored stems – red, pink, yellow – sometimes they simply glow with color]
  • Giant Red Mustard is nice when young, gets hotter as it ages. [More info] It can grow as tall as me and leaves can grow up to about  50 cm [2 ft]!
  • Radicchio is tender and sweet to eat in cooler months so we enjoy them now
  • Asian greens – such quick growers! Must remember to keep an eye on them or they bolt to seed before we get to eat them.

 

From now on we can plan for Spring planting, enjoy seed catalogs and organize our gardens to be ready when the weather and soil warm up.

 

 

 

 

 

Solstice!

Solstice!

A time of change.

For those of us in the Southern Hemisphere, the shortest day and longest night are nearly passed. For you in the Northern Hemisphere the long days are now getting shorter.

4:24 PM on Wednesday, 21 June in NZ

Down-under, we look forward to a resurgence of the life force of Spring approaching. Each day is a little bit longer. Each night, a little bit shorter. Yet the weather gets colder before the sun warms the ground enough for seed-sowing to be successful.

 

 

This is a challenging time for gardeners – or at least for me. I really want to sow seeds, to start the new season’s growth. Yet the open ground is too cold for seeds to germinate and grow well. Instead they sit and shiver – and if I do try sowing in the cold times, they frequently rot or get eaten by beasties instead – which defeats the purpose.

I am much better off being patient and waiting but I don’t want to! My intellect knows this but I really want a symbol that light, life-force and growth are returning after the time of longer darkness.

 

 

I know that seed sowing at this time is really only an option in a sheltered place – a glass house, tunnel house, conservatory, in pots on a sheltered patio or deck; or even the kitchen window-ledge.  I can have the symbol I want when the ground outside is still way too cold. It lifts my spirits just to have something growing.

I think this effect is a strong contrast with the month before the solstice when darkness is much more than light. Sometimes it can feel as though darkness is all there is. For me this is a time of introspection, of looking on the dark side. I can fall into depression unless I keep watch on myself, knowing it is an effect of the time of year rather than me alone.  After the solstice my heart lifts, my enthusiasm grows, I look forward with interest. So different!

And sowing seeds is an affirmation of light, life and growth. Gardeners must be optimists – or we’d never try to grow anything!

 

Here’s to the new Spring!

May you and your garden flourish,
Heather

Take a rest from sowing seeds this week

Take a rest from sowing seeds this week

 

This is a time to wander around and really LOOK at:

  • what is doing well,
  • what isn’t,
  • what is ready for harvesting,
  • where you will soon have space for new plantings,
  • where you would like more screening from un-wanted sights,
  • where your lovely views are being covered by previous plantings,
  • where the cold/hot winds usually come from so you can screen, diffuse and moderate them

 

Do other garden stuff instead of sowing seeds this week. Eg, renovate your garden beds ready for Spring planting.

From Sunday 18th June until after the dark of the moon on Saturday 24th June 2017.

 

Add into the mix – the solstice, which, in the southern hemisphere, is on Wednesday 21st June 2017. Then days will lengthen again hooray! How might this affect our crops?

 

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.

For more information about moon planting, this post may help, or Organic Lesson gives a different, reasonably clear over-view. I like exploring such ideas for myself rather than just trusting and believing.

If you like experiments about when to plant for best results, check out the idea from a past month 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.

 

At the minimum, these moon planting guides remind me to

  • plant SOMETHING,
  • plan a little,
  • and help me have a continuous supply!

 

Enjoy your garden and whatever it offers now!

What we can harvest in a June winter

What we can harvest in a June winter

The weather has turned cold here in Auckland.

Is there still anything to eat from the garden?

When I wandered around, this is what I found:

  • Gorgeous red-stemmed silver-beet,
  • rocket,
  • endive,
  • parsley,
  • gotu kola,
  • choko,
  • apples,
  • mandarins

 

20170602_170905
Gorgeous red-stemmed silver-beet, rocket, endive, parsley, gotu kola, choko, apples, mandarins

Then I went hunting further under some plastic shelters I had put over some beds and found:

  • Beans,
  • tromboncino squash,
  • silver-beet,
  • lettuce
20170529_152810
Beans, tromboncino, silver-beet, lettuce

 

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Looking further: a tiny, tiny zucchini – in June!

And a few carrots

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carrot – ‘Egmont gold’

And the last of the apples

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Apples

 

Look – the mandarins are starting to ripen! The tree is loaded so we will have citrus for a while now. The lemons and oranges are still unripe so we will wait further for them.

 

20170528_154954
Mandarins

 

And persimmons starting to ripen too. They are so delicious we really look forward to their sweetness in the winter.

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We have broccoli coming soon. Other brassicas [caulis, cabbage etc] would too if we’d planted any!

 

A bit more on beans:

I am so pleased with them – they were a late sowing in March,  a dwarf variety ‘Prince’. Stella had commented that these ones ‘tasted OK and grew better than others in cooler times, early and late in the season’. So I tried them.

One lot in the ground and another lot in a planter-box which could be moved onto the patio for extra heat if needed.

They grew well, lots of leaves. Then flowers appeared.

As the weather got colder I put plastic covers over them and waited and watched.

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The plastic tunnel gives OK protection from cold winds of winter and frosts [which we may have soon].

And it worked – real beans to eat in June – lots of them!

20170529_150533

 

So if you have a way of covering a late planting of dwarf beans, they are worth putting in.  Our own beans in winter – so nice.

 

So even though the snake-beans and climbing beans have finished – they were great and powered on until a few weeks ago, tomatoes are faint memory, there is still a lot we can find in a winter garden which is wonderful.

 

Sometime before Spring, I’ll look into a post about the range of beans we plant, how and why – there are a few!

 

May you and your garden flourish
Heather

 

 

 

A week to grow below-ground crops

Here in New Zealand, the outside ground has cooled down and germination will be slow, if at all, before seed is eaten by beasties. We wait until the soil warms up to sow seed outside.

If you have a hot-house or tunnel-house, or conservatory then these are good times to sow root crops:

  • Sunday 11th June through to Tuesday 13th morning June 2017, then again from Friday 16th to Saturday 17th June.

after the full moon on Friday 9th June.

 

 

 

 

 

Down-under sow seeds for fruits and flowers this week

Down-under sow seeds for fruits and flowers this week

It’s time to sow seeds for fruits and flowers this week until the full moon on Friday 9th June 2017.

Especially good days include Saturday arvo 4th June through to Thursday 8th morning [here in New Zealand]

In the northern hemisphere, this is a great time to sow heaps for summer crops.

Here in New Zealand, the weather is cool/cold. Less day-light as we approach the shortest day means the ground is also cool. This is a time to plan more and sow less until the ground warms up. Or sow under shelter, such as a hot-house or tunnel-house.

We may still plant a crop of green manure into vacant garden beds. It can grow until the plants start to flower then we will chop them off and either dig them into the soil or, more likely, cover the lot with mulch and leave the worms to turn it all into lovely new rich soil for spring planting.

 

This week the moon is growing towards full and from Saturday through to Thursday are when many aspects line up to give optimum good germination for strong seedlings. Worth a try I think.

What’s going on with weather effects in our gardens this year?

What’s going on with weather effects in our gardens this year?

What strange seasons we are experiencing at present. The plants seem somewhat confused.

Early spring bulbs are flowering now – and it’s not even winter yet! Jonquils [also called ‘Erlicheer’] began flowering here first week of May.

20170422_115739

 

One Choko vine has been producing prolifically; and another large vine has no fruit yet. Strange.

chokos - assorted sizes
chokos – assorted sizes

 

The pumpkin crop is very small this year – and very late. It’s getting too cold to harden the skins properly so I doubt they will store at all well. Previous years we’ve had heaps.

 

Tromboncino squashes [the long ones] are REALLY late producing fruits. Also none of storage quality this year whereas last year we had more than 20 stored for months. We are only now getting small ones to eat fresh – very late.

 

Leafy greens

The summer and autumn heavy rains also affected crops of leafy greens for commercial growers as well as home growers. Lettuces don’t grow well submerged in water as happened for some market gardens!

Many leafy greens, including our lettuce crop, were affected badly by caterpillar damage –  mainly ‘green-looper’ caterpillars which hide under leaves and chew the juicy, tender leaves.

I hand-picked off dozens from lettuces this year – and went back a few days later and found more I had missed – they are so good at camouflage and can chew through lots of seedlings! It’s much easier to grow good lettuces in cooler seasons when they stop being such a pest.

Lettuce, silver-beet, broccoli

 

I have covered the chilies with a plastic bag to protect them a bit from the cold southerly winds here. More ripen under plastic than out in the open with frosts likely now.

Also the snake beans – putting a plastic cover over them was more of an effort as they have climbed up poles as tall as me and straggled along posts. They are nearly finished for the year, but have given us such a great harvest I am hopeful to get a few more beans – even though it is now May and they are from warmer climates than Auckland.

Also, under the snake beans a tromboncino squash sprawls along the ground and has some fruits – with a covering we are more likely to get some fruits to eat.

 

The apricot crop was very poor – possibly affected by the warmer winter – we didn’t have any frosts at all – and apricots need chilling to fruit. Maybe this year. It’s worth having frosts to convince stone fruit trees to fruit! And to freeze caterpillar pests so next year’s crops have a better chance to grow well.

 

Overall,

The warm winter then cool, wet summer/autumn seems to have confused many plants. It will be interesting to see what does well next season.

We plant lots of different crops and varieties – some usually do well even when others don’t so we have a harvest of something we enjoy.

 

Have you found similar oddities too? or different ones? Or has your garden grown well through-out the seasons? If so, that is wonderful!

 

May you and your garden flourish!

Heather