Of pumpkins/squash, fruits, seeds and flowers for next week seed planting

Of pumpkins/squash, fruits, seeds and flowers for next week seed planting

If we want to harvest fruits [and veg] in future, it’s a week to plant some seeds for above-ground fruits, flowers, seeds.

Best days are Friday 29th – Saturday 30th December 2017 [here in New Zealand – or GMT +13]

Before the full moon on Tuesday 2nd January 2018.

Down-under we are in summer. Here in Auckland, NZ, the weather is warm so seeds germinate quickly [when kept moist]. It has been dry, with ‘showers’ rather than soaking rain so seeds and seedlings need watchful attention to maintain soil moisture levels so they grow well.

For those of you in northern parts where it is cold, either sow indoors in pots/trays [a glass-house is wonderful for extending the season]

Pumpkins/squashes/zucchini [courgettes] 

We have a sequence to provide these over a longer time span:

Still a good time to plant 1-2 ‘Zorro’ zucchinis into a rich, protected garden bed when the soil is warm. These are amazingly hardy and prolific [and they are bushes rather than rampant vines].

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Zucchini plant growing strongly

Cucumbers – the first 2 lots we planted are growing well. The ‘homemade pickle’ has provided 2 jars of gherkins already.  Much earlier than last year. The Lebanese varieties are getting bigger!

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Beans [I sow direct and protect from snails and slugs] We will plant more climbing ‘Emu’ beans. [PS -As the young beans appear with their first leaves is a great indicator to me to plant the next generation seeds for a continuous supply.]

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Tomatoes [also heat-lovers]. Getting a bit late so maybe plant seedlings. The cherry tomatoes we planted in spring are fruiting. Other varieties we planted late October are growing and some have fruit – there’s hope for them yet, even through there has only been 4 ml rain in December! I wonder what will grow best this season? For more on our tomato experiments, go here and here.

cherry tomatoes harvest!
cherry tomatoes harvest!

 

If you want chilies, capsicum peppers or eggplants [aubergines], plant seedlings rather than seeds. They need heat and a long growing season to fruit well.

 

Corn!  Plant into really rich ground. Early Gem and Bantam have grown well here in the past so we’ll see this year. They like lots of water, and our small tanks are nearly empty – we’ll have to use mains water instead soon.

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Raised bed growing prolific corn, beans, pumpkins!

Flowers. More flowers. Just because…

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Seeds – Amaranth, Chia, Quinoa, and whatever you like to experiment with. Chia grew well here last year.

 

Hopefully some of what we plant now will do well so we will have a harvest no matter what the weather does – hot/dry/cold/wet.

May your food garden flourish!

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Sow seeds of summer leafy greens next week

Sow seeds of summer leafy greens next week

 

 

Sow seeds for leafy greens next week – Tuesday 19th through to Thursday 21st December 2017 and then again from Sunday 24th through to the morning of Tuesday 26th [here in New Zealand].

This is a challenging time to grow leafy greens – through the festive season and summer!

If you do plant, go for heat-lovers and know that cool-loving lettuce, spinach, coriander [cilantro] take more care and attention at this time – can you give it to them now?

Leafy greens are best in semi-shade now as they bolt to seed in strong sun and dry soil. They need constant moisture to stay tender so keep a watch on soil moisture around them [I poke a finger into the soil and feel if its moist or not]. Automatic watering systems are wonderful now.

It’s good to sow new batches often so there are more growing leaves when previous crops are making flowers and seeds instead.

If you do sow seeds, choose from

  • Lettuce – maybe I’ll spread around seed-heads from a number of summer varieties so hopefully some will do well no matter what the weather does this year – hot/dry/wet. In shade!
  • Silver-beet [including rainbow chard/ bright light beets – the ones with vibrant colored stems – so stunning to see in a garden] These are self-seeding around the garden at present.
  • Rocket [Arugula] – maybe lucky to get some leaves before they bolt to seed – in which case, the seeds will be waiting there for cooler weather. Or check out the perennial version which is stronger tasting, and has finely divided leaves. It seems to survive the heat better.
  • Asian greens – maybe mizuna.
  • New Zealand Spinach ours is self-seeding so I’ll look see if there are little, new ones growing. It’s OK cooked [needs 2 changes of boiling water to draw out and minimize the oxalic acid content – in the same way that adult forms of true spinach and silver-beet also need]
  • Hot-climate ‘greens’ including:
    Magenta Spreen [Chenopodium giganteum] – see Wikipedia for more info 
    Amaranth [we like Mekong Red =  Amaranthus tricolor] – see Wikipedia for more info 
    Orach [Atriplex hortensis] – see Wikipedia for more info
    All grow more strongly in warmer weather than do lettuce or silver-beet. Most also grow far taller than lettuce. Do some research. Have a go with something different too.

 

 

Summer is a challenging time to have traditional leafy greens grow well – they much prefer cooler weather.

Grow hot-climate greens instead now.

 

Enjoy the festive season, the garden will be waiting for you later when there is time and you can enjoy it too.

 

Best wishes and enjoy the warm weather, the festive season and your garden!
Heather

 

 

 

Sow seeds of leafy greens next week

Sow seeds of leafy greens next week

 

Sow seeds for luscious leafy greens next week – Wednesday 22nd November 2017 and Thursday 23rd [here in New Zealand].

We are moving into warmer times as summer arrives. Leafy greens are best in semi-shade now as they bolt to seed in strong sun. And they need constant moisture to stay tender so keep a watch on soil moisture around them [I poke a finger into the soil and feel if its moist or not].

It’s good to sow new batches often so there are more growing leaves when previous crops are making flowers and seeds instead.

I will sow seeds throughout the week of

  • Lettuce – 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.
  • Silver-beet [including rainbow chard/ bright light beets – the ones with vibrant colored stems – so stunning to see in a garden]
  • Rocket [Arugula] 
  • Asian greens – maybe mizuna.
  • New Zealand Spinach ours is self-seeding so I’ll look see if there are little, new ones growing. It’s OK cooked [needs 2 changes of boiling water to draw out and minimize the oxalic acid content – in the same way that adult forms of true spinach and silver-beet also need]
  • Hot-climate ‘greens’ including:
    Magenta Spreen [Chenopodium giganteum] – see Wikipedia for more info 
    Amaranth [we like Mekong Red =  Amaranthus tricolor] – see Wikipedia for more info 
    Orach [Atriplex hortensis] – see Wikipedia for more info
    All grow more strongly in warmer weather than do lettuce or silver-beet. Most also grow far taller than lettuce. Do some research. Have a go with something different too.

 

Summer is a challenging time to have traditional leafy greens grow well – they much prefer cooler weather.

Grow hot-climate greens instead now.

 

When the weather warms up lettuce etc bolt to seed fast and produce fewer leaves which easily go bitter. When stressed, they stop making leaves and make flowers and seeds instead.

To encourage leafy greens to grow leaves instead of bolting to seed,

  • keep them well-watered 
  • Keep the soil moist and the leaves dry – a challenge for us! When the leaves stay wet they can go slimy or grow rust – not nice.
  • If you water from above, check the sun won’t shine onto the leaves while wet as the droplets focus the sun’s rays and can burn tender leaves.
  • give the plants filtered shade from hot sun – either by taller plants or by shade cloth coverings.
  • Check them daily [especially lettuce with its small, shallow root system]
  • pick individual leaves for salads and cooked greens
  • sow/plant a new batch each week for a continuous supply so we have some growing well even when previous lots are going to seed.

This is a time when I grow excess plants as some will be growing leaves when others are bolting – its all just the cycle of the plant’s life and I work with it as much as possible.

We usually manage to have greens available each day – often heaps! So nice.

Best wishes and enjoy the warm weather in your garden!
Heather

 

 

 

Cherry blossom time again!

Cherry blossom time again!

Aren’t they lovely – I understand why in Japan cherry-blossom time sends people into the public gardens with cherry-blossom walks. Beautiful.

They tell me spring is well and truly here and summer will return.

 

And to take a few moments to enjoy the fragile blossoms as I go about the garden.

 

There’s more to gardening and life than one task after another – look up and enjoy nature’s wonderful creations too.

 

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Are there blossoms on trees in your area for you to enjoy too? There are some as street trees here – gorgeous for a little while.

 

 

 

Sow seeds for fruits and flowers

Sow seeds for fruits and flowers

This is a wonderful time to plant seeds for your favorite pumpkins, squashes, zucchinis, tomatoes, peppers, chilies, cucumbers, beans.

Also seed-producing plants – chia anyone? Or wheat, rice, quinoa, amaranth? etc?

 

Seeds from a favorite pumpkin can be scraped directly into a lovely big pile of rich compost or aged manures to grow wonderfully. Keep some of the fibrous material from around the seeds as it helps support their growth.

[Cover the pile as birds love scratching for worms and seedlings go too]

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Labels!

If I write the labels and keep them with the packets of seeds, I’m more likely to put them with the seeds when I sow them – whether in pots or trays of the ground. Really helps me remember what I’ve put where in the ground, especially before they poke through the soil surface.

When I just sow seeds, I forget I’ve done so and a week or so later I put something else in too – makes for confusion.

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Seed sorting time

 

Wonderful time to sow

  • tomatoes – plant seedlings out when the ground at your place is warm enough. Auckland is nearly maybe warm enough – yet humid or wet air is a challenge for tomatoes which prefer hot, dry climates and we need to keep a watch for molds and mildew. We use micro-climates – little warm spots on the north side of a brick wall/paving, protected from cold winds.  Or give them a ‘mini-hothouse’. For more tips about how we grow great tomatoes, go here.
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    Tomato harvest – golden and cherry varieties

     

  • pumpkins/squashes/zucchini [courgettes] – if you have lots of space, compost and warmth these can be generous crops

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    pumpkin/squash harvest
  • cucumbers – we grew heaps last year – a wonderful feast  20161214_174257
  • corn! It seems ages since we had our own corn – well, at least last year. So this is a great time when the soil is warmer to grow delicious corn. If you choose a heritage variety, you can keep it alive and well in your area. Some are delicious. [One tip: with the older varieties, they lose sweetness fast so pick and immediately cook in boiling water/bbq/etc to stop the enzyme activity which converts sugars to starch.]
  • chilies, capsicum, eggplant – these like it even warmer that tomatoes so give them the warmest spot available. I think I would be planting seedlings rather than sowing seeds now. Although we have chilies 2 and 3 years old which still produce fruit. There were very few in the first year but overall they have produced well.
  • legumesbeans are more heat tolerant than peas [save them for autumn/winter/spring crops] so now is time to grow great bean crops. For more about how we grow great bean crops in our home gardens, go here.Beans 20170111
  • Flowers – check requirements: some grow brilliantly now for summer display. Some are better to plant in autumn when cooler, moister weather arrives again.

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This is a favorite time for me. Put seeds into warm ground and they sprout quickly.  Feed them well and it seems like they grow new leaves and stems each day. Wonderful.

 

‘3 sisters’ corn, legume, pumpkin/cucumber crops

I have had variable success with the ‘3 sisters’ crops. Some years these have been great. Some years the pumpkin swamped the rest. So now I sow the corn then wait for it to grow at least 10 cm tall before sowing the climbing beans then wait for them to grow 2 sets of leaves and look robust before planting pumpkin seeds. Cucumbers may be a good option.

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Corn and pumpkins are hungry crops so the ground needs to be rich to support them to fruit well. Buckets of compost rather than just a little thin layer. The beans add some nitrogen back to the soil for the other plants – that helps.\

Here are 2 beds with corn and beans growing well in the left bed while the pumpkin is just starting round the back. On the right, the pumpkin swamped the corn.

Vibrant food garden beds

 

Best week to sow for fruits, flowers and seeds is said to be before the full moon.

This month, the full moon is on Saturday 4th November 2017

Best days for fruits and flowers are said to be Monday 30th October 2017 pm, through until Wednesday 1st November 2017.

 

Best wishes for your flourishing garden
Heather

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.