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Southern Vegie Garden Notes October 2013

Quick Planting Summary for  November

Plants which can be sown from seed

Beans just beginning to pop upBeans
New Zealand Spinach
Bean seedlings at the two leaf stagePumpkins
Silver beet
Spring onions

Plants which can be sown from seedlings

Tomato seedlings nearly ready for transplanting
Silver beet

Welcome to Southern Vegie  Garden Notes for October.

Freshly picked radishesSo far this month our gardens have been blasted by the Nor Wester, which created snow showers of petals, then deluged by rain and frozen by frost. I saw a crop of beans, tomatoes and potatoes fried brown by the frost. But now as we near Labour Day the days are warming, the barbie is polished and shorts dragged out from the bottom of the cupboard.

I do find myself getting a bit impatient at this time of year peering and scratching at my seeds to see whether they have come up. This is why radish is so reassuring. They pop up so quickly and provide tasty crunchiness within weeks. But now my carrots and spring onions are well on the way.  After the really good rain a week ago the crops at Delta just zoomed; the mesclun mix and the peas doubled in size after a week.

It is really good to plan your garden at this time of year. The first thing to do is to choose a part of the garden for quick crops which will be eaten so that the space will be ready for planting winter crops in late January and early February .

Mesclun flourishing after the recent rainsTomatoes, corn, chillies, squash, zucchini, pumpkins, beans and cucumbers are all sun soakers and need prime spots and will still be in your garden well into March.  They are also all big feeders and require plenty of compost and moisture.  One garden I visited for 'A Vegetable Planning',  I saw the most incredible crop of corn; every plant was over 2 m and the cobs were large. The reason for such luxuriance was that the corn had been planted in a place where grass clippings had been stored for years creating a very rich soil.

Silver beet ready for harvest at Churchill Park Community GardenAt Churchill Park Community Gardens we are growing in a mix of sand and pebbles. The pebbles mean that spades and digging is nigh well impossible. We hired a very strong rotary hoe to break up the grass and fling around the stones.  Creating fertility has to be left to plants and mulching. So the first action was to lime the soil and plant lupins and mustard.  However in some patches even the lupins and the mustard were struggling.  We had excess grass clippings so I threw them on the garden. To my surprise, where I had flung the grass clippings, the mustard and the lupins next to them shot away.


Now we have forked in the mulch a little, tossed in a handful of blood and bone and planted silver beet, broad beans, peas,  cabbages and mizuna, Salad made with the first picking of silver beet from Churchill Park and greens from Delta Gardens. The salad was created by the Grow YOur Own Free Lunch participants.rocket  red mizuna and herbs. Today we harvested our first bunch of crispy delicious silver beet and cooked it for our lunch.

The moral of the story is don’t worry about your soil just feed it.


Peas flowering. Note the first pods developingIf it was difficult to find easy greens in September it is even more difficult in early October. We are harvesting plenty of perpetual beet, mesclun, lettuce, miners’ lettuce, rocket and radishes. Everything else is still in seedling stage. A salad made with these can be jazzed up with fresh mint. We just have to hang about a little longer waiting for the first fresh peas.

Planting seeds

This is the time of year when most crops ( beetroot, peas, carrots, radish, parsnip, mesclun, spring onions) do best by being sown direct into the ground in seed drills. There are still some places on The Simple Organic Gardening  Course if you wish to learn seed sowing techniques. See Vegetable Gardening. See Southern Vegie Garden Notes October 2012 for instructions on planting beans and potatoes.

Planting seedlings

Cabbage growing at Churchill ParkIn my garden the great fight is on with the blackbirds. They fling all the mulch around the place, steal  the worms (thieves !!) , eat  the new pea shoots and dig out  the seeds.  I have to cover all my crops in netting so that the peas can grow big enough that the black birds are no longer interested.  Once spring is over they all settle down. They demolished a whole pea crop and then I noticed that where the pea straw was scattered peas were popping up everywhere so I have gently transplanted the scattered self sown peas into manageable rows. So far so good. Note: Delta Community Gardens does not have a black bird problem.

Self sown lettuce which was transplanted three weeks ago.At Delta we had a great crop of self sown lettuces. I also transplanted these into manageable rows and they are growing vigorously.

When you purchase seedlings have a think about how big the plant will grow. For example a courgette can take a m². Pumpkins and squash need metres to ramble about. Chillies need the warmest most sheltered spot as they are very marginal for Christchurch.

When transplanting try and pick a cooler day or evening. The plants have been unceremoniously ripped out of their pots or trays and need lots of TLC for the next few days.

Soil and Watering

Here in Christchurch both the easterly and the nor wester are very drying. These winds dry out the soil very quickly even if we have had a good rain. At this time of year when you have a lot of seeds and seedlings in the garden you will need to water regularly. If you have added plenty of fibrous matter to your soil over winter your soil will hold the water much longer.
Bare soil fries and dries much quicker than covered soil. I keep a light covering of grass clippings and old weeds on my soil to help retain the moisture. I don’t use peas straw as it tends to harbour snails and slugs.
Many watering devices actually deliver deluges of water to your garden. It is better to water for 10 mins regularly than to let the soil dry out and then deliver a rainstorm.


Vegetable Garden Planning at Your Place 

Vigorous Snow Peas
This is the perfect time for Vegetable Garden Planning as you will be able to get ready to plant for spring.
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 at: http://www.aplaceoflearning.co.nz/vegetable-gardening/


The Simple Organic Gardening Course

Broad Beans flowering at Churchill Park Community GardenAt the end of this in depth course you will be able to grow healthy vegetables in your own garden. Imagine the satisfaction of picking fresh salad in the spring sunlight.
This spring three different times will be available
6.30 – 8.30 Tuesdays  22 October to 10 December

At the end of this in depth course you will be able to grow healthy vegetables in your own garden. Imagine the satisfaction of picking fresh peas in the spring sunlight.
Find out more http://www.aplaceoflearning.co.nz/vegetable-gardening/
Email Mary to book now. mary@aplaceoflearning.co.nz . If you pay a booking deposit on the



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