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Southern Vegie Garden Notes December 2013

 Wishing you a Happy Christmas

and an Abundant New Year 


Quick planting summary for January


Plants which can be grown from seeds

  • Beans racing up the polesBeetroot
  • Dwarf beans( first week)
  • Spring onions
  • Lettuce
  • Radish
  • Spinach
  • Silver beet
  • Turnips

Plants which can be grown from seedlings

  • Celery
  • Leeks
  • Silverbeet
  • Spinach

Welcome to December's Vegie Garden Notes

Peas ready for harvest within a week.This is the best growing season I can ever remember; warm day / night temperatures and regular rain. Mushrooms in the garden are a testament to this warm moist season. The lower trusses of the tomatoes are already set. My corn is 75cm high. On previous years the corn has been a bit tatty and grumpy from cool night temperatures at this time of year. 

At Shirley Intermediate one girl decided to plant cucmbers. She sowed the seed in the ground and a week later their first two leaves had popped up. Cucumbers need about 21 - 25 cel to germinate. The children also planted a lot of  corn and nearly every seed germinated. Corn also needs 21 - 25 cel for germination.

December / January is a pause in planting. We are at the summer solstice. The frantic activity of mid spring to have all the cucumbers, beans, tomatoes, corn, potatoes, pumpkins and parsnips planted is over.  These plants are busy growing but are not yet ready for harvest. This is a great time to relax in the garden, bask in a deck chair and occasionally fling out a sleepy hand to pluck another warm strawberry.

The planting and sowing in autumn for winter is yet to come. 


Freshly picked strawberriesAt this time  lettuce, spring carrots, spring onions, radish, broccoli, broad beans, cabbage, parsley, mint, peas, strawberries and raspberries are being harvested. These crops have to be watched carefully so that you can pick them at their best. The warm moist season is wonderful for growing but you will find that crops are ripening faster than usual.

It is best to visit your vegie patch daily to keep watch on your crops ripening. Strawberries can ripen over a day. Peas and broad beans can change from sweet and juicy to hard and bitter over a week. Cabbages, broccoli and lettuce can rapidly burst into flower at this time of year.

Early potatoes are harvested any time now. Many people save these special treats for Christmas day. After harvesting it is best to sow blue lupins. The main crop potatoes will  not be ready for at least another month. They are harvested when their tops die down.

It is time to lift your garlic when the tops are brown and have died down.

A self sown Chinese cabbageIf you have space it is a good idea to take advantage of the plant's wish to seed. A lettuce left to flower can self sow around your garden or you can collect the dry seed in a paper bag for storage. ( Seed can't be stored in plastic containers as you risk the seeds sweating and mildews forming.) Mesclun mix left to sow will provide you with seedlings for the next crop. Plants can self sow anywhere. Last year I grew poppies on a border and left them to self sow, which they did; everywhere except on the border. I now have poppies blooming in many little nooks and crannies.

Garden Tasks

 The main task this year is weeding since the weeds are taking advantage of the lovely weather too. I was away .from my garden for two weeks and when I came back I had to remove weeds which were racing to deluge Gallant Soldier. A weed brought from Peru to Kew Gardens and then to Christchurch.the vegetables. Gallant Soldier Galinsoga parviflora  is a very pesky weed in my garden. It grows very fast easily up to a metre tall and seeds everywhere. It can swamp your vegie plants and snuggle into your beans looking a bit like a bean to fool you. For information on oxalis, convolvulus and other weeds check  out www.aplaceoflearning.co.nz/newsletters/southern-garden-vegie-notes-december-2012/  

Watering is also essential at this time of year if the rain doesn't continue. Your garden will stay moist longer if you have plenty of organic material in your soil and keep a light mulch on any uncovered soil. 

Dwarf beans and beetroot growing togetherSpring onions ready for thinningThinning is a big part of gardening at this time of year. Crops sown from seed such as carrots, beetroot, spring onions and parsnips, all need thinning. Carrots need at least two thinnings. One when they are about 10 cm high and the last one when the carrots are small. These thinnings are sweet and delicious to eat. When the spring onions are big enough, harvest them by thinning.


Planting Seedlings

Planting seedlings can be quite difficult at this time of year as the plants quickly wilt in the heat. If you are going to plant seedlings plant them in the evening or pick a rainy day. You will need to pamper them by watering them at least once a day and if possible providing shade for a week or so.


Sowing Seeds

There is really very little to plant right now except  small sowings of dwarf beans every couple of weeks.  Beetroot, spring onions and carrots can be sown. See www.aplaceoflearning.co.nz/newsletters/southern-garden-vegie-notes-december-2012/  for tips on growing carrots.


Vegetable Garden Planning at Your Place

A healthy courgette ready for a season of productionThis is the perfect time for Vegetable Garden Planning as you will be able to get ready to plant for autumn.
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  http://www.aplaceoflearning.co.nz/vegetable-gardening/


The Simple Organic Gardening Course

A butter crunch lettuce going to seed with wilding poppiesThis course will be run in February / March 2014.  The exact date and time yet to be determined. See http://www.aplaceoflearning.co.nz/vegetable-gardening/ for more information


Canterbury Community Gardens Association

The Canterbury Community Gardens Association is having a stall at Ellerslie Flower Show 26 Feb - 2 Mar.

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