A Place of Learning: For Natural Learning

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Southern Vegie Garden Notes April 2013

Quick summary for planting in May

• Broad beans can be planted in the first two weeks of May
• Garlic and Shallots can be planted in the third and fourth weeks of May
• Blue lupins can still be sown as a green crop in the first two weeks.


Pak Choi ready for harvestVegetable Garden Planning at Your Place 

This is a great way to start your new garden. In Mary’s one and a half hour visit to your place, you will create your Garden Action Plan, and have a mind buzzing full of ideas. Find out how to transform your world with a spade and some seeds at: http://www.aplaceoflearning.co.nz/vegetable-gardening/

Pruning Stage 2

This will be held at the New Brighton Community Gardens
Sat 15th June 9.30am-12

Red fungi popping up with the autumn rainDuring April the light is waning rapidly as we hurtle towards the shortest day.  The fantails and the white eyes are back in the garden; a quick white flicker between the trees. In April the garden changes from a summer garden to a winter one. The last few tomatoes are hanging on, a few tatty basil plants are still around so we can savour the last delicious aroma of summer. At the same time the winter greens are nearly ready for harvest.


Pumpkins nearly ready for harvestHumans can be seen with slightly bulging pockets and smiles on their faces collecting walnuts and chestnuts.

Pumpkins are still being harvested. (A wee reminder from last month: store them so that they are not touching see) aplaceoflearning.co.nz/newsletters/southern-vegie-garden-notes-march-2013/

Watch for the drying pods of runner beans.  They can be saved for next season. Pick them on a fine day when they are brown. Leave the seeds in the dry pods, place in a paper bag, date and label and store in a dry place until October. At Delta Community Gardens we have harvested carrot seed, spring onion seed and red silver beet seed.

Root crops like beetroot and carrots can still be left in the ground and harvested as needed. Parsnips need to be left until after the first frosts so that they are sweet and tender.

I have grown native potatoes because these wee gems are packed with flavour. Check out this link to find out more about native potatoes. http://www.tepapa.govt.nz/Education/OnlineResources/Matariki/Pages/Potatoes.aspx

Potatoes left in the ground until needed, stay fresher. The only trick is to remember to harvest enough potatoes during the weekend for week day dinners, to save you from harvesting by flash light after work!
If you planted Pak choi’s six weeks ago, you should be harvesting them now. The wondrous kitchen staff at Delta Community House are making coleslaw from Pak choi. The cooks receive an endless stream of compliments for the delicious fresh flavour.

Celery ready for harvestCelery season is starting now! It’s ready for harvest, sweet and delicious. Celery can either be picked stalk by stalk or dug up the whole plant. The leaves are good for soups, stews and stock. Happiness is a fresh sweet stalk of celery filled with crunchy peanut butter.

I leave the leeks until the end of the month so they get another few weeks to fatten up.  My minnie cabbages are nearly ready. These are great for small gardens and small families. Leave the stalks in the ground after cutting as more cabbages will sprout away. These can be purchased from most garden centres as seedlings.

Sowing  Seeds


It is a good idea to sow Broad Beans in double rows a trowel width apart so that they help support each other.  They can also be good windbreaks in spring for more tender crops like lettuce if you site the beans carefully in the garden.  Open a seed drill a finger deep (approx 7 cm).  Plant the seeds one trowel width apart, down the row. Plant the seeds in the second row diagonally from the first. Cover seeds to one knuckle deep (5 cm).

Self sown mustard popping  up amonst the leeksIf you let mesclun mixes go to seed, salad greens will self sow all through your garden especially in autumn and spring.

Garden Tasks

When your summer crops come out, cover the soil either by planting lupins and mustard or with a light mulch of leaves, grass clippings or straw. 

Weeding around your leeks.

Continue adding the autumn leaves to your compost bin.

If your garden is producing a good crop of fungi at this time of year you know that your soil is alive and well. 

If you are struggling with weeds like ivy here is a good site to check outwww.weedbusters.org.nz

Beginners Garden

Mini cabbages ready for first harvestA vigorous broccoli at Shirley Intemediate GardensI continue to be amazed at the crops we have grown at Shirley Intermediate. The children and I work for 6 hours a week. The children have barrowed old leaves and some grass clippings into the soil. Given it a quick dusting of lime and then planted lupins. That’s all we did. Look at the amazing broccoli plants that are growing.

Delta Community Gardens have started a new garden in Churchill Park (the site of the old Churchill Courts). We have sown some lupins and some dwarf broad beans.  Watch this space for developments. If you want to be part of this garden contact Mary mary@aplaceoflearning.co.nz.


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