Water, water, water! Deep watering two or three times a week, preferably in the evening will keep summer crops producing.
After the high temperatures and the lack of rain we’ve experienced through January it’s hard to think about preparing for winter but now is the time to start sowing seeds for autumn and winter crops. Limited rain and damaging winds early in the month necessitated regular watering to keep summer veges healthy and productive. The leaves of my climbing beans were bruised and shredded by the wind but the plants are now fully recovered and continue to crop well. The trick is to constantly remove old and damaged leaves as you pick the beans and keep up the watering. This rejuvenates the plants and also makes harvesting much easier.
SEEDS TO SOW
Spring onions, lettuce, silver beet and perpetual spinach can now be sown directly into the garden or, as I prefer, into containers to produce seedlings for transplanting later.
Leeks are a great winter standby and the seed can be sown this month.
Early in the month is the last chance to sow zucchini and dwarf beans. Carrots, rocket, radish, beetroot and parsnips can be sown directly into the garden. Covering seeds with a layer of seed-raising potting mix helps to prevent soil from forming a hard crust that can hinder germination.
It is time to start sowing broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale and red cabbage. I always start them in containers but they can be sown directly into a garden seedbed for transplanting later. Whichever method is used the seedlings must be protected from the voracious caterpillars of the Cabbage White butterfly. Because I don’t use chemical sprays on my food crops I prefer to use a simple frame to support a cover of Quarantine Cloth. This has the added advantage of providing light shade for the tender seedlings.
Snow peas prefer cooler temperatures so I usually wait until the end of February before sowing my first batch.
VEGETABLES TO PLANT
Bearing in mind any limitations on watering and after care all the varieties listed in ‘Seeds to Sow’ can be planted out into the garden. I tend to wait until mid to late February before planting large quantities because that should bring us closer to some significant autumn rainfall that will ease the pressure on both me and my water tanks.
There’s still time to plant basil and all the other popular culinary herbs but coriander hates hot, dry conditions. However, it grows easily from seed so we just have to accept that it has a limited useful life and sow fresh pots of it every few weeks. Letting the old plants flower will provide the seed for future crops.
Contributed by Chris Green, SuperGrans WBOP Volunteer
Want to know more? Come along to our monthly (1st Wednesday of the month) Growing Food with SuperGrans on the 5th February, 10-11.30am at the SuperGrans Offices, 14 Jocelyn St, Katikati and meet our volunteer gardening gurus! Free event, just drop in.
Photo: SuperGrans Western Bay of Plenty vegetable garden/jungle!