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.

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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.

 

20170528_154908

 

 

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! Woo hoo!

Sow seeds for fruits and flowers this week! Woo hoo!

It’s time to sow seeds for fruits and flowers this week – Friday 1st September 2017 + Saturday 2nd + Tuesday 5th September 2017 [here in New Zealand]

Before the full moon on Wednesday 6th September 2017.

An early Spring seems to have sprung!

In Auckland the weather has been milder than usual so we will sow lots of seeds for Spring.

 

Seeds need warm soil to sprout and grow so most tomatoes etc will go into pots on our back patio where they will be warm, out of the cold wind, and cared for – because I see them often there.

This is a wonderful time to sow and I’ll really enjoy sowing – there is such potential for wonderful future harvests – especially with an early Spring.

 

 

  • tomatoes [somewhere warm in seed trays. Our back patio, probably on the table is a good spot – leaving a little space for us to put out a meal to eat there too!]  I’ll sow a number of varieties so hopefully some will do well no matter what the weather does this year – hot/dry/cold/wet.
  • pumpkins/squashes/zucchini [courgettes]/cucumbers and other cucurbits can start in a warm spot as long as you can keep them warm [Also wonderful ones like bitter melons, spaghetti squash, gourds – but these go into the ground later as they need it warmer]
  • peas and beans [I sow direct and put out snail bait or surround them with plastic cut-off bottles to protect from snails and slugs which love baby seedling legumes]
  • Maybe chilies, peppers [capsicum] and eggplants [aubergine] in special little pots and tendered lovingly in the hope they will grow and fruit. Where we live often has cold southerly winds and this group like it hot! I make each a little ‘hot-house’ with a plastic bag over the pot and around the plants when I transplant them to the garden. Sometimes we get fruit.
  • Flowers of all sorts [well, the ones which like starting in Spring].

 

Open ground planting for heat-lovers [tomatoes, chilies, melons, corn, etc] is often given as late October/early November here in NZ.  I can transplant tomatoes, chilies, zucchinis then. They will be bigger and more resistant to weather and pests too.

Some plants do not transplant well so it is much better to wait for warm ground and sow directly in the soil so there is no root disturbance.  I’ll wait to plant corn and melons –  it’s way too cold for them to thrive yet – even if the air is warm, the ground is not warm enough for them yet.

I so often have got impatient to grow these and planted them early as the sun was out, the air was warm, yet the ground was still cold. Seeds often did not sprout. Seedlings sat and shivered and were a magnet for snails, slugs and diseases. For strong healthy plants, the ground needs to be warm so I try for more patience.

 

This week the moon is growing towards full and the days listed above are when many aspects line up to give optimum good germination for strong seedlings – whether in the ground or in pots or a tray on a heat pad. Worth a try I think.

 

May your sowing and planting be successful with wonderful outcomes.
Heather

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.

 

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!

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.