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Southern Vegie Garden Notes June 2012

Bullet Points for July

• Pruning
• Sort out your seeds
• Look at seed catalogues
• Plan your garden
• Plant fruit trees and berries
• Steeped compost tea to prevent celery rust
• Sharpen Your tools

Biddy-BidsDon’t be fooled into thinking that because it is winter there is nothing to do in the garden.  Winter is the great window of opportunity for preparing for Spring which is arriving like an express train. If you look into your garden you may see chickweed, nettles and bidi-bids. The appearance of these plants is a sure sign that the earth is getting ready for spring.

ChickweedNettlePruning Workshop

July and August are the pruning months. Last year I went on the following course and truly recommend it for anybody who has fruit trees.

Pruning  with Hamish Kelland  at Seven Oaks
Get the best out of your fruit trees!  Learn how to prune grape, apricot,
apple, plum, pear, quince and peach.  Tool selection and maintenance is also covered.
9am – 3pm  Saturday 28th July or August 25th or September 15th $30
July is a great time. courses@sevenoaksorganics.org.nz>


Cold winter days by the fire are great for sorting your seeds. It is a lot of work to sow seeds that are out of date and may or may not germinate.  It is a good idea to go through your seeds and throw out the out of date packets.  Lettuce seeds in particular have a short lifespan. Bean seeds can break easily. 

I store my seeds in old cake tins. These can be found in the Red Shed or garage sales. I stored seeds in my garden shed for years, but since the Local Land Alterations by Mother Nature, the floor of my shed can get damp in the wet weather so they now reside inside.

Seed packet folded from the bottom.When you open your seeds, open them from the bottom so that when you fold down the cut edge for keeping the left-overs, you can still read the name and date at the top. It is a good idea to store your seeds in a rough alphabetical order for easy finding.

The next job is to make a steaming hot cuppa and settle down with the Kings Seed catalogue and begin dreaming of summer. I like to grow one or two new things each year.  This year a self sown Kale Cavolo Nero arrived in my garden.  This plant is wonderful for a one-woman-and-a-dog household, since I can pick the leaves as I need them. So I will grow some more next year.

I am thinking of planting some Cress because it is a really handy salad green which grows really fast. Cress can grow in any container imaginable. We used to grow it in half an eggshell as a fun children’s activity.


While seed dreaming, it is time to plan your garden and your crop rotation. It is tricky to have a full crop rotation in a tiny urban garden.  As a basic rule of thumb, where you planted your potatoes and tomatoes last year, this year plan to plant peas, beans, onions.  If you have only one decent space to plant tomatoes then make sure you plant an early crop like lupins, peas or mustard while you are waiting for tomato planting time in October. It is also good to alternate root crops and green crops. Where you grew lettuce last year grow carrots and beetroot this year.


MisomeLeeks, brussel sprouts, pak choi, misome, celery, broccoli, potatoes, carrots, parsnips, beetroot, spring onions, parsley and mizuna are the crops which I am picking now.

Misome is a a frost hardy tasty green which you can use in salads and stir fries.

It is wonderful to have a sink full of fresh carrots, leeks, celery and parsley ready for the cook’s imagination.  For example, slowly sauté leeks and carrots in butter.   Add a slosh of white wine and simmer. In the last few minutes add chopped celery, a sprinkle of parsley, salt and plenty of pepper. Mmmm.

The weeds also are very useful. I have heard that chickweed makes a great pesto. It also makes a good ointment for eczema and other itches. Nettles have long been used as a spring pot herb as they are high in minerals. They taste surprisingly nice when cooked. Until the 1700s nettles were used as a fibre to make cloth and were widely cultivated.

Frost cloth saves celery turning to sludge on frosty nights. The last snow completely covered my celery so that not even  a leaf was poking up; frost cloth was of no use. I thought that I had lost it in that severe frost the next day. But no, the snow was deep enough to insulate the celery from the frost and it popped out fresh and juicy a couple of days later. Whooppeee


This is the time to plant to plant fruit trees and berries.


If you are pruning small twiggy matter as you are tidying up your garden, remember to put it in the compost heap. The twiggy matter provides homes for beneficial fungi.

Steeped Compost Tea

This is simply a good couple of handfuls of your best compost steeped in a bucket of water for three days to a week. I keep it near the back door so that I can give it a good stir as I go passed. Strain it through a ceive and water it onto the plants in the late afternoon.  This has really stopped the celery rust in both my garden and at Delta.


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