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Southern Vegie Garden Notes October 2012

Bullet Points for November

Seeds to sow

  • Basil  
  • Corn
  • Courgettes
  • Cucumbers
  • Beans
  • Carrots
  • Lettuce
  • Mesclun
  • Leeks ( in nursery rows)
  • Celeriac
  • Turnips
  • Pumpkins
  • Squash
  • Gourds
  • Silver beet
  • beetroot
  • spinach
  • NZ spinach
  • main crop potatoes
  • Marigolds help to repel insects
  • Phaecelia  help to  attract beneficial insects


  • Tomatoes
  • Chillis
  • Capsicums (hot house or very, very warm place)
  • Courgettes
  • Lettuce
  • Silver beet
  • All pumpkins and squash

Free  seeds-- Heritage Bean, mixed packets.

Free seeds-- Heritage pumpkin

Free fruit trees--  four potted black boy peach seedlings.

Contact Mary to arrange collection


Freshly Harvested RadishesGrow Your Own Free Lunch

This FREE course is held at Delta Community House on Tuesday mornings between 9.30 and 12.30. The current course has finished but due to demand a new course is being planned . Book now to secure your place. This course is perfect for beginners.


Garden Consultations

New season's lettuce ready for harvestVegetable Gardening Advice at Your Place.

One Hour Vegetable Gardening Advice: $80

This hour-long one-on-one discussion is great for advice on: 

  • your garden site (existing or future)
  • requirements for healthy plants
  • your needs, and choosing the best crops
  • what vegies to grow, and when
  • your next steps.

Two Hour Vegetable Garden Advice: $120

All the benefits of the hour long session, plus one hour’s tuition on seed sowing, transplanting, and watering.
(Prices for Christchurch only)

Contact Mary e: mary@aplaceoflearning.co.nz, p: 03 942 6840


If you let parsley flower it will attract beneficial insects and seed in next years crop. The weather has turned the corner. The steering wheel was hot in my car today. My bread rises on the kitchen bench rather than having to be snuggled up in the hot water cupboard. This month is the magic growing time for our southern climate. Watch how fast everything grows.

Even so last week our southern climate showed what it can do and flung a rapid southerly change followed by a slice of frost and a dusting of snow on the hills. This is why the old wisdom is to stay patient and plant the following on Show Weekend: tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, all squash and pumpkins, main crop potatoes, chillies and basil. These plants don’t like their growth interrupted and they all flourish much better when they can go for it in the warm weather.

On my porch at the moment are trays of tomato seedlings for the community gardens; these are the ones that started life in the hot water cupboard. Their growth is racing along. Also on the porch are trays of squash and zucchini and cucumber seeds planted a week ago; they have just germinated. Once they get cracking they will grow very fast.

Broad Beans nearly ready for harvestWatering.

In Christchurch a week of cool easterlies can fool the gardener; because the temperature is cool you can think that the soil is not drying out. But the easterlies are very drying. The cheapest, quickest way to test you soil moisture is to stick your finger in. If the soil is nicely moist you don’t need to water. Also watch your plants, if the leaves look a bit tight and squeezed then check for moisture. Or if your plants are not growing very well, it may be a lack of moisture.

When watering think about how wet you would get standing in a moderate to light rain. This is about the best delivery of water. Most sprinklers deliver deluges so 10 mins at a time is usually plenty on one spot; a timer on your tap is best, but otherwise just use the timer on your stove or watch or phone or….

We are all now dramatically aware that most of us live on top of sand. For this reason it is really important to build up the leafy, twiggy matter (humus) in your soil; the more fibre in your soil the better the water retention.

Moisture is best retained by keeping your soil covered. One way of covering the soil is with plants.  Weeds are the natural way of covering the soil. Weeds like chickweed form a good cover as long as you ensure that your crop plants have plenty of light and growing room. When you harvest your weeds just pop them back on top of the soil so that they form a mulch. A very light sprinkle of lawn clippings can be used as mulch.

Black birds

These dig up all your seeds. They can be held at bay with netting or old oven racks and fridge shelves. Many of you will have your own innovative solutions that you might like to share.

Planting Seeds

Pattern for planting dwarf beans in a seed drillDwarf Beans

I always plant butter beans first because they seem to be a wee bit hardier. Open a wide flat seed drill similar to the one for  peas;  make the drill  up to the knuckle of your index finger deep and  a hand width wide. Plant the seeds in the pattern shown; each seed is about a knuckle of your index finger width apart. Cover. It is good to plant these near your tomatoes and corn.

Pole Beans

Pole beans (Scarlet Runners, King of the blues, Fardenlosa, Painted  Ladies) all need to climb up something. A sunny wall is good or a tripod as shown below. In a tripod plant 3 – 4 seeds at the base of each pole. It is good to remember to make the tripod only as high as you can reach or else you will have to fetch a ladder when you want to eat beans!!

Potatoes set out for sproutingPotatoes

Potatoes for your main crop need to be sitting in the sun in a box as shown. Good potatoes will have short stubby sprouts.  Potatoes grow really big and require plenty of soil nutrients. They need to be grown in a space of their own and not inter-planted with other crops. Open up a drill. The depth is 2 – 3 times the diameter of the potato. The potatoes need to be planted 1 ½ trowel widths apart. Once the potatoes come up they need to be hilled up so you need to leave plenty of space for this. So make your rows about 2 trowel widths apart.
Don’t grow potatoes and tomatoes close together. They really don’t like each other.


You will be planting these for next winter. They are best planted in nursery rows and transplanted into their final position in late January


Tomatoes – It is best to place the stake on the south side of your tomato. Put the stake in first then plant the tomato so you don’t disturb the roots. Planting basil near your tomatoes improves the flavour. I also let NZ spinach ramble around under the tomatoes.

Pumpkins and Squash need plenty of space to wander around and plenty of compost .

Courgettes need about 1 m diameter in space. So when you are planning your planting leave them plenty of room in the sun.

Cucumbers are low rambling plants or they can be trained up a wire. They need plenty of sun and water.


The radish and broad beans harvest is now in full gear.

Phacelia floweringPlant health

 This morning at Shirley School Gardens we were watching a patch of flowering mesclun. They were attracting bees, flies and many other small flying insects. Flowering plants in your garden help keep the insect population in balance. If you plant marigolds tagetes patula  around your garden they will help control nematodes and they look pretty.  Phacelia also attracts predatory insects.

Tripod for planting beansLazing in the Garden

Take time to just sit in the garden and watch it growing. Reach out a lazy hand pluck a snow pea and munch.

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