Sow seeds for fruits and flowers this week

Sow seeds for fruits and flowers this week

In Auckland the ground is cold and there is little we grow in the open now.

If you have a glass house or tunnel house then you have more options. It’s time to sow seeds for fruits and flowers this week – best on

  • Monday pm 31st July and am of Tuesday 1st August 2017
  • then again Friday 4th pm, Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th August 2017 [here in New Zealand]

Before the full moon on Tuesday 8th August 2017. 

This is an interesting time as there is also a partial eclipse of the moon that night [at 6.20 am on 8th August 2017]. As seen from Auckland it will cover only a little part of the full disc of the moon [assuming no cloud cover too].

Eclipses bring interruption to the regular cycles of the sun and moon which we are used to. The light usually shed onto our Earth disappears at odd times. There is a disturbance to natural cycles. Animals react to these changes. Maybe plants do too. It is something to observe and note for ourselves. If you are interested in eclipses, this site is informative.

 

So, what could we plant this week?

Peas, snow peas, snap peas, sweet peas are an option at this time – with LOTS of protection from slugs and snails!

 

For all peas and beans, I start by putting the seeds in a jar of water by the sink [so I remember them]. I leave them soak overnight. Next morning I tip off the water and rinse the seeds until the water is clear. I leave the seeds in their jars, rinsing occasionally until I see them sprout the first tiny roots from the seeds.

Then I plant them out into the open ground. I try to surround them with a plastic protector – multi-purpose as it keeps out slugs and snails as well as protection from cold winds and black-birds.

Maybe a  plastic tunnel over them would warm the ground enough for them to grow.

 

What about beans?

Beans like much warmer weather than peas do. Beans grow and fruit in summer/autumn quite happily [unless it is too hot]. Peas like cooler weather so grow well in spring and autumn [and into winter if the weather is just cool rather than snow and ice].

Early beans under a plastic tunnel? Maybe.  If we have an early spring, maybe it might work – it sure helped give us beans to eat at the end of the main season so we picked beans into winter. Maybe it can warm the ground enough for early spring sowing too?

I think we might put a plastic tunnel over our proposed planting site so the ground warms and dries enough to be OK to plant into. Beans prefer drier ground and will not grow if it is very wet and sodden – they rot instead.

We’ll plant the seeds under the tunnel after they have started to sprout in a jar on the kitchen bench.

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

Can I wait a little longer? Not sure. There is always the option of further sowing later in the season too. Its a wonderful time when we can ‘have a go’ and try for some early crops as well as plant later when success is far more likely.

We look forward to Spring planting!

Of potatoes and sowing seeds of below-ground crops

Of potatoes and sowing seeds of below-ground crops

It’s too cold yet for us to sow seeds outside here in Auckland, NZ. But we can turn our attention to:

Potatoes!

This is a good time to place seed potatoes somewhere warm and with a little light to sprout [‘chit’] – just as spuds for eating do in the cupboard when we forget them!

An egg carton makes a good base and support for them.

After some weeks each potato tuber sprouts from ‘eyes’ on the surface and grows new roots and shoots. Plant them when they grow short shoots.

Some light is important for growing sturdy, strong shoots. In darkness, shoots get longer, thinner and fragile – not so good for planting to get a great crop.

In a few weeks we’ll plant them out into open ground – under a lovely heap of soil to keep them protected from frosts. They will continue to grow slowly and poke their shoots above the surface in another month or so. By that time Spring will hopefully be coming and frosts rare.

Some people cut each seed potato into pieces – each with an ‘eye’ sprouting new shoots. I like smaller seed spuds and don’t cut them up as I’m not so sure about fungus invasion into cut surfaces which would make them go moldy rather than grow well.

Our spuds get planted into a garden bed that has been enriched with compost, rock-dust and whatever else we have for them.

We place them in depressions made in a big mound. Or in trenches in a warmer area and cover them well with soil. Over time we add mulch to cover the stems up to the top leaves.

Our potato bed
Our potato bed early in the growing season

 

Potato tubers grow from the stems – above the seed tubers we plant. So feeding them well and covering lots of stem encourages the plants to make lots of stems, leaves, flowers and new tubers.

A-n-d, tie back the tops when they grow way too big and fall over the paths.

Potatoes - 'Heather' - 2 months old
2 months on – growing well and lovely flowers

 

[This variety is called ‘Heather‘ – so I couldn’t resist trying it – not knowing if it would grow well here. It did, and had lovely purple flowers as a bonus. Most potatoes I’ve grown had white flowers so these were a surprise treat.]

We only plant seed potatoes from reputable sources so we keep our garden beds free from diverse diseases which spuds can carry. Supermarket spuds are not a good source of seed potatoes if they bring in diseases into our garden beds.

We now plant potatoes to crop before the psyllid bugs are out in force when the weather warms up. For more about this new pest, Horticulture NZ shared this psyllid bug poster. Koanga Institute shared their thoughts about organic controls here.

We find it simplest to plant early before the psyllids are active. The early variety ‘Rocket’ works for us – good cropper of nice tasting early spuds – just ideal so we plant them most years.

For more on spuds, Lynda Hallinan experimented with a range of Kiwi spud varieties and shared her results here. There are lots of options!

 

Kumera or Sweet potatoes 

[Not in the same family as potatoes, but often called ‘sweet potatoes’ because they grow a tuber underground like potatoes, and they can be very sweet.]

Now is a great time to sprout some ready to plant out into a warm, rich garden bed – when tomatoes are planted out is a good time for kumera too.

For more about how we grew a great crop,  here is a post I wrote.

 

Recommended best days for planting seeds to grow great root crops 

if you have a hot-house, tunnel-house or conservatory

  • Monday 10th July 2017
  • Thursday 13th – morning of Saturday 15th 2017

Often planting charts talk generally of sowing these seeds during the week after the full moon on Sunday 9th July 2017, as it appears to get smaller.

 

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 Sunday 2nd to Wednesday 5th July 2017  [here in New Zealand].

The ground is cold and seed sowing really only gives results in hot-houses, tunnel-houses, conservatories, or inside somewhere light. A heat-pad [often sold at pet stores to keep pets warm] gives bottom heat needed by some seeds to germinate.

If you are fortunate to have such a place, you can sow

  • tomatoes – keep them inside until November when the ground is [hopefully!] warm enough to transplant them outside. Or keep them inside!
  • pumpkins/squashes/zucchini [courgettes] – if you have lots of space, compost and warmth
  • legumes – peas are much more cold-tolerant than beans
  • Flowers – check requirements as they will be in their seedling stage as weather is still very cold

 

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.

 

PS.  The full moon is on Sunday 9th July 2017.

 

 

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

 

20170611_151048

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

And a few carrots

20170528_154908
carrot – ‘Egmont gold’

And the last of the apples

20170529_153033
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.

20170526_161423

 

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.

20170529_144502

 

 

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