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Southern Vegie Garden Notes March 2015


Harvesting Fresh Organic Vegetables from your own Doorstep

Welcome to Southern Vegie Garden Notes

Summer goodness of tomatoes preserved in a jarQuick Planting Summary for Early April




Spring onions


Spinach Bloomsdale ready for pickingSeedlings






Pak choi

Silver beet


Today, late in March the cicadas are chirrping.  Another beautiful, sunny, warm day compared to last March when  we were up to our hocks in floods . The changes in the growing condtions from year to year are part of the excitement of gardening and a reminder of the ever changing world we live on.

This year I have picked buckets of tomatoes whereas most years I pick bowls of tomatoes. Tomatoes can be stored by turning them into puree and bottling them. I have still more basil to turn into pesto. Pesto is the only way I know of  storing that wonderful basil flavour. http://www.aplaceoflearning.co.nz/recipes/pesto/. At the same time my celery is flourishing. Winter and summer crops side by side. In many years the courgettes start dying off at Bumper season for basil, tomatoes and chilli.this time of year but this year the plants are still strong and healthy.

Apples ready for pickingDuring Daily Peaceful Garden Time you can sip the  refreshing tang of the autumn air. Watch the winter seedlings as they pop up. Find a hidden strawberry, apples on a tree,  some juicy blackberries and  still sweet beans. When you sample, sip and taste, you not only have the zing of fresh food but also discover so much more about the ripeness of harvesting. Also watch for other creatures which want to sip and taste too. A seedling lettuce leaf with munch marks on the ends of the leaves probably means that you are sharing your lettuce with the birds. 

Problem Solving

Here is a handy format for diagnosing problems with your crops.

Water- Feel around your soil to see if it is dry. Many home gardens are too dry in summer. The ideal soil is moist. The ideal water is gentle. A light mulch keeps your soil moist.

Season - Is the plant you are growing in its right season? Look through the Southern  Vegie Garden Notes to see if you have planted at the right time.

Bugs - Bugs that want to share your crops are seasonal. Right now the white butterflies are busy laying their eggs. Check for the tell tale signs of crumpled up, discoloured leaves. Watch out for the holes in the leaves. Check the underneath and inner leaves of your brassicas for the tiny green caterpillars. You can squash them or spray them with neem or pyrethrum. You can hose them off with a jet of water. You can net your plants. It is an interesting tussle of human brain versus caterpillar brain.

Soil, Soil, Soil - Most of the answers lie in your soil. Look into your soil and see if you can see worms and bugs. If you have plenty of life in your soil you will have healthy plants. When you pick up a handful of soil is it friable and loose with plenty of air in it?

Soil in March

If you wan tto know the basics of soil listen to the podcast of Seeds and a Spade


Autumn leaves are good for your soil.During the next couple of months, leaves drop here in Christchurch in barrow loads full. This golden rain is plant food from heaven. Pile the leaves into your compost heap interpsersed with grass clippings, weeds and kitchen scraps. Or dig a trench in your garden and fill it with leaves and grass clippings or blood and bone and fill it in. Or use the leaves as a light mulch. All the bacteria, fungi and bugs  will busily turn the leaves into plant food making your soil ready for next spring. The key to having the leaves break down is to put them in your garden  / compost with plenty of air. So give them a good fluff up. If the leaves are compacted then they can take years to break down.

This is the perfect time to plant your green manure crops. Blue lupin and mustard seeds are available from nurseries in 500g and 1kg bags. These will keep your soil in good condition over winter and look pretty too.


Bean and red spinach seeds ready for storage.The perfect time to plant your onion seeds is now and into the beginning of April. They are best planted straight into your garden. They take 2 -3 weeks to come up . You will first see them as green loops coming out of the soil.  They should grow to about 5 cm high and then just sit out the winter ready to gallop away in spring. Onions do need regular weeding.

Winter mesclun mixes provide you with pickings of tasty greens nearly all through winter. Kings Seeds have a great range of mesclun mixes. kingsseeds.co.nz It is a good idea to make several sowings over the next few weeks. 

Collecting your own seeds -  Some seeds are easy to collect such as beans. Allow  some pods to dry on the vines. Then store in a warm, dry cupboard in a paper bag or glass jar.


Mesclun seedlings just coming up in the garden.Your garden is changing from a summer one to a  winter one. As your spent beans and cucumbers come out give your garden a good  dose of compost and then plant in your winter vegetables. Silver beet, perpetual beet and pak chois will thrive through winter giving you the great taste of fresh greens.


Autumn tomatoes ripening on the vine.I am still picking my tomatoes daily as they ripen. My job is to beat the birds so I pick them orange coloured. I also have put a net over my late apple as the birds enjoy them as much as I do  and are quicker than me.

If your beans have become tough just take the beans out of their pods and use them in soups and stews and any way you woudl use dried beans.

Radio Programme

Seeds and a Spade

March in the Garden .

Check out http://plainsfm.org.nz/on-demand/march-garden/ for the podcast.

Celery nearly ready for harvestConsultations

Vegetable Garden Planning at Your Place

Start your own garden for fresh organic food at your place

This is the perfect time for Vegetable Garden Planning as you will be ready to plant in spring.  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. Find more details on http://www.aplaceoflearning.co.nz/vegetable-gardening/ 

Call Mary 03 942 6940 or email mary@aplaceoflearning.co.nz.

Enjoy Gardening without Backache

Courgette plant growing strongly in late MarchIn this one hour session discover the way to use hand tools such as spades, shovels, trowels and secateurs without hurting your body. You will have plenty of time to practice so that it's easy to do when you return home.

Cost: $30 per hour if you travel to Mary's place or $30 per hour plus travel time if Mary travels to your place. 

Come by yourself or gather a group of friends. Gardening without Backache is hands on learning and will require more than an hour for more than two people. Find more details on http://www.aplaceoflearning.co.nz/vegetable-gardening/ 

Call Mary 03 942 6940 or email mary@aplaceoflearning.co.nz.


 The Simple Organic Gardening Course

Healthy Brussels Sprout seedling6 - 8 pm - Sept 29, Oct 6, 13, 20, 27, Nov 3, 10 17

Delta Community Gardens

105 North Avon Rd 

Learning vegetable gardening naturally

 This course is designed for the home gardener. It is a hands on course with plenty of time to practice skills like transplanting. Check out http://www.aplaceoflearning.co.nz/vegetable-gardening/  for more details. Bookings taken now.

Call Mary 03 942 6940 or email mary@aplaceoflearning.co.nz.

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