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!

 

20141225_171548
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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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.

Sow seeds of leafy greens this week

Sow seeds of leafy greens this week

Sow seeds for luscious, tender leafy greens this next week – Thursday pm 24th August 2017 to Monday  28th 2017 [here in New Zealand]

After the dark of the moon on Tuesday 22nd August 2017.

Spring is springing! A new energy of the cycle of growth is appearing for us down-under. Buds are form on deciduous plants and bursting into blossom or leaf. Joy oh joy.

The days are getting longer.

Yet the ground is still cold and wet, wet, wet here in Auckland. Seeds sown outside take a long time to sprout and grow.

To have a successful planting for a good harvest we need to give delicate, tender seedlings protection from:

  • the heaps of slugs and snails which miraculously appear now.  Keeping them away from delicious, tender new sprouting seedlings requires some effort.
  • strong cold winds
  • birds – especially black-birds which are nesting at present and determinedly scratch for worms scattering seeds and seedlings out of the soil in their efforts
  • any pets which can dig [or neighborhood cats]
  • possums and rats which can cause havoc if you have them around

 

What sort of  protection?

These are my favorites: Full plastic cover over hoops on raised beds.

plastic covers over raised beds with bird netting over the top to hod all in place in strong winds
plastic covers with bird netting over the top to hold all in place in strong winds
  • a protective surround. Cut down plastic bottles, one per seedling can work. I put a bird net over the lot as we have determined black-birds which up-root most such attempts.
  • a plastic bag cover over a frame with the plastic buried into the ground so there is no access [+ snail bait/deterrent for the determined ones].
  • a plastic tunnel cover [with covered ends too] +snail bait/deterrent
  • any other inventive physical barrier
Beans growing in winter under a plastic tunnel 20170529
A plastic tunnel – very useful at this time

This is a time when last year’s leafy greens suddenly bolt to seed, sending up tall spires of flowers. The leaves become bitter and less appealing.

 

What shall we sow?

  • Lettuce – I’ll sow a number of varieties under a plastic tunnel 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] In fact, they are popping up all over as I left last year’s seeding plants to share their seeds in the garden
  • Rocket [Arugula] 
  • Mustard greens, or the giant red mustard is pretty nice early in the season before the heat of summer adds too much pepper bite and it goes to seed rather than make tender leaves. It’s an eye-catcher in the garden.
  • Asian greens [assorted] – here they grow well in the cooler months – they grow so fast! Mizuna is a favorite for us.
  • 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 They love cooler, wetter times and can grow well.

 

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 cooler, wetter months.

 

Sow seeds of leafy greens this week

Sow seeds of leafy greens this week

In our garden in Auckland NZ, the open ground is too cold for much success planting there.

If you have

  • a hot-house,
  • tunnel-house,
  • conservatory or
  • warm, bright window

then this is a time to sow seeds for leafy greens. Best days are Friday 28th July, Saturday 29th and the morning of Sunday 30th July 2017 [here in New Zealand].

After the new moon on 23rd July 2017 – which always gives the possibility of a new beginning.

In Auckland the weather is cold and the ground is cold and wet.  

This is a time I

Grow micro-greens or sprouts instead now.

 

For more about our experiments with sprouts and micro-greens, go here.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

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

Leafy greens time now

Leafy greens time now

Lettuces love cooler weather.

And other leafy greens – endive, miners lettuce [not really a lettuce], gotu kola, parsley, rocket, chervil, coriander, etc.

There are so many ways to have the benefit of raw, leafy greens, even in winter.

This is a good time to plant a new lot of lettuce and other greens to provide lovely leaves for many months now the weather is cooler as the days are shorter. And it’s too cold for the caterpillars!

It’s such a balancing act – too much moisture [either from over-head rain or watering] makes for constantly wet leaves which touch each other, hold moisture and become slimy or mush – not nice!

Keep them just moist so they can germinate and grow strong roots. Sometimes a tunnel-house or cover can grow  greens well when there is too much rain about.

Soil temperature

Too cold  and seeds take ages to start to grow.

Try an experiment some time and go out at mid-afternoon and put your hand flat onto soil in full sun and notice how cold/hot it is. Now feel soil in a shaded place.

Best times for planting seeds of greens?

After the new moon on Friday 26th May is the best week to plant for lush leafy greens.

The best days are Sunday 28th, Monday 29th May 2017.