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Southern Vegie Garden Notes March 2014

Welcome to Southern Vegie Garden Notes

Quick Planting Summary for April

Cosmos flowers all summer and attracts bees to your gardenSeeds



Spring onions

Last of the cucumbers in the hot houseSeedlings






Pak choi

Silver beet



This month while Cantabrians were up to their hocks in flood water I was enjoying the far north where banana trees grow wild on the side of the road.  Whangarei has a huge growers market every Saturday morning where the stalls are piled high with produce and fish.

Zucchini CocozelleThe really big difference between Canterbury and the far north are the growing windows. Up north the growing windows are much longer but here they snap shut with a click. For the first three weeks of March the weather remained mild and then one morning when I got up the windows were misted and the air had that tang of frosts to come.  By the time I arrived at Delta Community Gardens on the Friday, the cucumbers and one of the zucchini were looking worse for wear as the downy mildew took hold.

I have noticed that the zucchini cocozelle, which I planted this year, have resisted powdery mildew well and are all still producing at the end of March. The yellow flowers add to the rich autumn colours of autumn.


Last tomatoes ripe on a brown vineAs I write this at the very end of March tomatoes are still ripening on brown vines. For most of us the outdoor tomatoes have been poor this season. They romped away in the warm early spring but the colder December / January meant that flowering was not strong. An article in The Press, 28 March,  also noted that due to the cooler December / January that honey was in short supply.

If you are a beginner gardener then it is good to remember that each season is very different. My corn last year was another 50 cm higher.  The tomatoes in my hot house grew really well while my out door tomatoes were stunted even at Delta Community House where they grow up against a concrete wall.

Basil is still growing in my garden. I can still pick enough to savour its fragrance and store it as pesto in my freezer. Once it has gone I know that the basil aroma, which makes everyone smile, will be gone until I prick out next years seedlings.  

Beans have grown well this season. Once the cooler weather starts the dwarf bean pods become tough and stringy. They are good for saving seed with though. At Shirley Primary School the children collected dry pods of heritage bean seeds. They have labelled them ready to be planted next October.

Parsnips beginning to die downYour root crops like beetroot, potatoes and carrots can be left in the soil to be harvested as you eat them. Parsnips need to be left until after the first frost.

Most of the corn is picked. The pumpkins and butternuts are nearly ready for picking. See March  2013 for tips on harvesting your pumpkins http://www.aplaceoflearning.co.nz/newsletters/southern-vegie-garden-notes-march-2013/


 I am also harvesting plenty of late apples and pears. I have  been given quinces which cook up beautifully with stewed apple.

Butternut nearly ready for harvestYou often can still find late strawberries to thrill the tastebuds. Leave the strawberry plants to grow runners and basically leave them alone until winter.

Planting Seeds

It is a good idea to sow onions in the first week of April. They will grow to a few centimetres and then winter over. This year I will direct sow my onions in a place that is handy to my pathways because they need regular weeding and it is easier if you can pick out weeds as you go along. The onions can be thinned later and the thinnings used like spring onions for cooking. Onions can also be grown in spring.

Spring onions can also be sown but for wintering over. They will come away very  quickly in spring and give you early fresh green onions.

Lupins can be sown to cover bare ground especially after the potatoes come out 

Planting Seedlings

Red cabbage growing at Churchill ParkWinter vegetables are  filling the gardens now. Brussels sprouts, leeks and celery need to be already in the garden and growing well.

If you are going to plant Cabbage, Cauliflower, Kale, Mizuna, Mustard, Pak choi, Silver beet, and Spinach  you need to really get them in as soon as possible.

Garden tasks

This is a good time to be concentrating on building compost. Look around for your resources. An autumn day at the beach will yield sea weed. Falling leaves collected and put into your garden help drive your soil fertility. If you are going to purchase mulching and composting materials make sure that you purchase straw and not hay. Hay contains too many weed seeds.


Zucchini cocozelle flowering in MarchVegetable Garden Planning at Your Place

This 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

 Rich autumn colours of silver beet and beetrootThe next course will be run in Spring in the second week of September. Bookings taken now. email Mary mary@aplaceoflearning.co.nz 

See http://www.aplaceoflearning.co.nz/vegetable-gardening/ for more information






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