Take time out from sowing seeds until after the 22nd

Take time out from sowing seeds until after the 22nd

Take time out from sowing seeds from Tuesday 15th August 2017 until after the dark of the moon on Tuesday 22nd August 2017. As the moon nears its smallest visible ‘dark of the moon’ phase, this time is associated with spindly, weak growth – wait a week or so.

 

Do other things instead.

  • prepare garden beds to be warm, nourished and ready for new crops as soon as they are warm enough. Feel the temperature with your hand – if the ground is cold, wait a while. Sometimes putting a plastic sheet or tunnel or cloche over the intended planting site makes enough difference that plants will grow happily in a week or so.
  • read up on seed types to plant for success now Spring is on the way – they all have their favorite times. Choosing ones which enjoy this particular time makes all the difference to successful harvests. In Auckland, this is still very early Spring so choose only ones which grow well early on to plant in open ground. All others still need a protected, warm place.
  • learn more about the optimum conditions to grow GREAT crops of your favorite veg or fruit. Each variety has its likes and dislikes. If we try to grow them outside their likes, we need to care a lot more for them. It’s much easier to set them into conditions they like.
  • Plan your next seed sowing, your garden layout, or crop rotation to minimize pest and diseases.

Another Eclipse

The 22nd August is another interesting day – there is a total solar eclipse of the sun occurring across the USA that day [for more information this site is interesting]. New Zealand won’t see any of it, yet the disturbance of the light/dark cycles of Earth may affect the rest of the globe somehow. I’ll watch with interest.

 

 

A week to grow below-ground crops

A week to grow below-ground crops

Here in Auckland, New Zealand, the outside ground is cold 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. Or get inventive and creative to make warm spots.

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

  • Wednesday 9th August through to Friday 11th August 2017, then again on Monday 14th August 2017.

after the full moon on Tuesday 8th August 2017. [Here in New Zealand]

Some root crops can be transplanted, for example we’ve had success doing so with beetroot. Many others bolt straight to seed without forming nice big roots.

With carrots, we have only had success when sown directly into the open ground of warm soil. They will wait a while yet.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Of beans in winter

Of beans in winter

It is winter here now. Mid July in Auckland has turned into a real winter – cold, rain, southerly winds straight off the antarctic ice.

Yet here is the productive bean harvest from yesterday – aren’t plastic tunnels amazing!

20170712_112851

 

I planted beans mid autumn as an experiment – lets see if we can extend our bean season!

I’d heard from Stella that ‘Prince’ dwarf beans were OK to eat and grew better than others in cooler conditions – early in the season and late at the end of the normal bean season.

We gave the bed some compost, rock fertilizer and ‘Fodda’ with wonderful mix of nutrients. Just a little as beans will produce the part we like to eat better with little nitrogen [or they make lots of leaves and few fruits we eat].

They grew – and grew well.

20170529_150600

Then the weather got cooler. Cold winds were forecast so out came a plastic tunnel house to protect them.

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

They kept growing then flowered – and then fruited – and kept fruiting for weeks!

We were very impressed [well, those who like beans were. Those who aren’t beans fans were not very impressed at all].

Eventually they slowed down in bean production. The weather turned even colder and a real winter storm was forecast so I finally cut the stems off at the base [leaving the roots to decompose and add nitrogen and other nutrients to the soil].

I picked the last of the smaller beans for us to eat [shown in the colander].

Beans with big seeds were left on the plants. I put them in a bucket to have time to send the nutrients from the plant into the seeds as they ripened and made hard seed coats. These will be our seeds to plant next season.

 

Overall, we were thrilled to have extended the season way beyond our normal one so will consider doing this again in future.

Maybe you might like to extend seasons of your favorite crops with plastic houses or tunnels or cloches too. It’s well worth a try.

May you and your garden flourish
Heather

Take time out from sowing seeds until after the 28th

Take time out from sowing seeds until after the dark of the moon on Sunday 23rd July 2017. As the moon nears its smallest visible ‘dark of the moon’ phase, this time is associated with spindly, weak growth – wait a week or so.

Do other things instead.

 

 If your weather is cold, maybe its a time to:

  • Build a new compost bin
  • renovate garden beds
  • read up on this next season and seed types to plant for success – they all have their favorite times. New seed catalogs are out and a real treat to enjoy in winter.
  • learn more about the optimum conditions to grow GREAT crops of your favorite veg or fruit
  • Plan your next seed sowing, your garden layout, or crop rotation to minimize pest and diseases.

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.