Daylight is noticeably lengthening and, despite winter finally catching up with us through August, soil temperatures are slowly rising. September is one of the busiest months for vegetable growers as it signals the start of the change over from winter to summer crops. However, it is generally still too early for sowing and planting tender varieties directly into the garden.
SEEDS TO SOW
Into pots, punnets and trays under cover in a glasshouse, sun porch or sunny window sill:
Tomatoes, capsicum, chillies, zucchini, cucumber, dwarf beans, butternut squash, basil, plus towards the end of the month, egg plant, melons and sweet corn. A trigger spray bottle is a good way to keep them watered without splashing and washing out the seeds.
Carrots, peas, radishes, beetroot, onions and parsnips can be sown directly into the garden. Covering seeds with a layer of seed-raising potting mix helps to prevent a hard crust that can hinder germination. I still prefer to sow cabbage, broccoli, perpetual spinach, cauliflower, and lettuce in pots to provide strong seedlings for planting later.
I planted my first early potatoes in July and they are already 20cm high and have received their first ‘earthing-up’. This involves drawing soil up and around the plants until only the top of the foliage is showing. This provides protection from the weather and insect pests as well as preventing ‘greening’ of any exposed tubers. The same principal applies to potatoes in containers, just top up the growing mix as the plants grow. Time to plant a few more!
VEGETABLES TO PLANT
Garden centres will soon be full of tender vegetable plants and it can be a huge temptation to buy up large and plant your summer garden in early September. Unless you have a glasshouse, tunnel house or some other kind of protection it really pays to wait until October before planting. Even if early plantings survive they are usually overtaken by crops that are planted into more favourable conditions.
Winter standbys such as cabbage, beetroot, broccoli, cauliflower, perpetual spinach, lettuce, spring onions, snow peas and silver beet can still be planted but be prepared to provide white butterfly protection as your cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower mature in a couple of months time.
Contributed by Chris Green, SuperGrans Volunteer
Want to know more? Come along to our monthly (1st Wednesday of the month) Growing Food with SuperGrans on the 4th September, 10-11am at the SuperGrans Offices, 14 Jocelyn St, Katikati and meet our volunteer gardening gurus! Free event, just drop in.
Photo: Growing Food with SuperGrans at SuperGrans Western Bay of Plenty.