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Southern Garden Vegie Notes December 2012

Wishing you all a Happy Christmas and an Abundant New Year.

You are very welcome to contribute your experiences to Southern Vegie Notes. If you wish to contribute, please email your questions or notes from your veggie gardening and I will load them on. 


Grow Your Own Free Lunch

This FREE course is held at Delta Community House on five Tuesday mornings between 9.30 and 12.30. February 12 - March 12.  The current course has finished but due to demand a new course is being planned . Book now to secure your place. This course is perfect for beginners.

Beans beginning to climb the poleOne Hour Vegetable Gardening Advice


Bullet Points for January

Seeds that can be sown

  • Peas ( Kings’ Pea Progress, Pea Petit Provencal)
  • Last sowings of dwarf beans
  • Lettuce
  • Spring onions
  • Kohlrabi
  • Chicory
  • Radish
  • Turnips
  • Spinach
  • Silver beet
  • Blue Lupins

Seedlings which can be transplanted

  • Lettuce
  • Basil
  • Spinach
  • Silver beet
  • Beetroot
  • Leeks

What a wonderful time of year this is. Everything grows so rapidly. At Delta Community Gardens we have A Giant Snow Pea Forest Walkway; nothing more delicious than casually sauntering along, flicking out a hand, snipping a snow pea and having a quick snack.

My strawberries and raspberries are ripening. Yesterday I discovered red, ripe strawberries hidden in the straw. I ate them all; warm and juicy in the strawberry patch. Nearly Christmas time.

After waiting so long in early spring for crops to begin ripening, the earth flaunts her abundancy.  We have been so lucky this month with plenty of warmth alternating with heavy showers of rain. The tomatoes and corn are sprinting.

Enjoy your garden. At Richmond School we watched two tiny children hunting for snow peas and eating them in the sunshine. Then they dipped their trowels in the sprinkler and tried to hold water in them.  They were so focused and happy. Pure enjoyment.

Garden tasks

  • Try to keep your soil covered to retain moisture; a light sprinkle of lawn clippings is good for this.
  • Water the garden.
  • Crops like radish and peas need to be harvested quickly at this time of year. In even a few days they can grow passed the point of deliciousness.
  • Keep picking your courgettes so that they don’t turn into huge marrows and harvesting your broad beans so that they don’t go floury.
  • Thin out carrots, parsnips and beetroot.
  • Regularly take off the laterals from your tomatoes.
  • Hoe up the last of your main crop potatoes.
  • Lift your garlic if the tops are drying off.

Weed the garden.

It is best to weed regularly and leave the weeds lying on top of the soil. They help mulch the garden and provide food for the soil food web. It is good to see your weeds as a volunteer crop to harvest for food for the microorganisms in your soil. I think that weeds have been given a bad press. They do the job of covering and feeding soil. Think yippee weeds for soil food!!  Weeds also give you an excuse to potter around in the garden.

The following weeds volunteer too aggressively.
http://weedbusters.org.nz/index.asp is a very good web site to find out a lot more about your weeds.

Oxalis. Each little bulb begins a new plant. Oxalis – It is best to keep on top of this. I lift out the whole plant from underneath and put it in the green wheelie bin. Before the council kindly provided the Green Oxalis Bins, I used to drop them into a pot of boiling water. They are very hard to compost at home. If you weed them as they come up this prevents the little bulbs from dropping back into the soil.
Convolvulus. Each node grows a new stem.Convolvulus – You can just pull them out as you see them. It is probably better to relax and learn to live with these weeds. Follow the vine to the ground and pull out as much as I can in one go and throw them onto the lawn. They dry up and die in the sun rapidly. If you put the green convolvulus material into the compost heap you risk it re-growing.

Docks – I keep a pet dock plant which I don’t let go to seed. I rub a scrunched up dock leaf on nettle stings and itchy bites. Any other docks I remove because their deep roots and heavy seeding make them hard to deal with.

Old Man's Beard. See Weed Busters for removal.Old Mans Beard - This weed is very difficult to remove. It is a horrible pest that smothers everything. http://weedbusters.org.nz/index.asp tells you how to remove it.

http://ecan.govt.nz/publications/General/Old_mans_beard_April2005_web.pdf gives you much more detail about this weed.

Sowing seeds

When you dig out your early crop potatoes, sow Blue Lupins on the bare soil. (Not Russell Lupins. These are a pest plant BUT Blue Lupins are purchased in plastic bags of 250g / 500g from nurseries . They do not come in the paper illustrated seed packets.) The lupins cover the soil and can be dug in later as a green manure crop.

At this time of year it is best to direct sow crops where possible. It is difficult to keep plants in seed trays in the heat. See Southern Vegie Garden Notes August 2012 for sowing in seed drills.

Twigs used to protect young seedlingsWhen I am sowing carrots and other small seeded plants at this time of year I cover the drill with light twigs. This does the double job of keeping the blackbirds off and keeping in moisture. I remove the twigs as soon as the plants are at the four leaf stage. 


I f you are transplanting pick your day. If possible wait for a dull / drizzly day. Then keep the water up to them regularly until they are established. In the heat they will need a quick sprinkle 2-3 times a day. I put lettuce in at Delta Community Gardens last Friday when it was deluging. They have done very well. 

When you come home from holiday it is time to plant your leek seedlings. You can buy these in bundles of 25. Take a stick (I use a child’s cricket wicket for this task) which is officially called a dibbler.  Push the stick deeply into the ground. Drop the leek into the hole so that the leaves poke out the top. Plant the leeks a hand width apart. You do not need to fill the hole in. Water the leeks.

Fruit Trees

If you are thinking about planting fruit trees next year you might want to check out www.sutherlandnursery.co.nz for heritage fruit trees.

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