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Southern Vegie Garden Notes September 2012

Bullet points for October

Seeds which can be sown in Open Ground

  • celeriac
  • lettuce
  • spring onions
  • radish (early October) Make small sowings of radish every week to two weeks.
  • carrots
  • Peas which have just come up.peas
  • silver beet
  • beetroot
  • rocket
  • mesclun
  • turnips
  • miners lettuce

The black spots on the broad bean flowers form a bee landing strip. This is interesting to watch on a warm day.Seeds which can be sown  in seed trays mid to late October

  • cucumber
  • pumpkin
  • courgettes
  • squash
  • corn
  • beans – all sorts
  • New Zealand spinach

Seedlings which can be planted in October

  • silver beet
  • lettuce
  • spring onions



Mesclun ready for harvest. It can be cut or the leaves picked individually.Grow Your Own Free Lunch.

This is a free course for beginner gardeners which includes harvesting and cooking vegetables.
Tuesdays  2 ,9,16, 23, 30 October 9.30 – 12.30am. Delta Community Gardens. Contact Mary for bookings.

Vegetable Gardens for Nearly Free

Beginner vegetable growing course.
Mondays 6.30pm – 8.30pm.  Start Date 29 October. The course runs for 6 weeks and is held at Papanui High School. Cost $96. Contact Papanui High School for bookings. http://intranet.papanui.school.nz/mod/glossary/view.php

Garden Consultations

Snow Pea Tendril. Quiet time in your garden lets you spot the magic of plants.Vegetable 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

In the Garden this Month

Autumn Sown Silverbeet ready for harvest.Today in late September the morning opened up with a fine mist caressing the river and blossomed into a beautiful warm afternoon. Now a Southerly has blown up, the back yard is a whirl wind of petals, the temperature has dropped like a stone and it is pouring with rain. This is the weather that tomatoes, cucumbers, chillis and pumpkins hate. In weather like this they sit in the garden with their knees knocking together and their cheeks sucked in.

One year, in a warm spring, I planted part of my outside tomato crop early. We had southerly weather for a couple of weeks and the plants just sat grumpily. I planted more tomatoes on Show Day and they far outstripped the tomatoes which had been planted too early.

It is good to think of tomatoes, basil, cucumbers, squash, courgettes and chillis, as marginal for Christchurch. By this I mean that some years you can get a bumper crop, and some years almost none. There are all the other years in between. This all means that you have to look after them more than you would other plants.

Green peppers, aubergines, water melon, and rock melon are really only suitable for glass houses. One year green peppers were grown moderately successfully in Delta’s warm spot. Although the plants flourished, the summer warmth didn’t last long enough for good sized peppers to grow.

Planting seeds

Growing in Open Ground

All the seeds listed in the bullet points can be grown using the methods outlined in last month’s veggie notes.

Sleeves for SeedlingsDrink Bottle Method

The Drink Bottle Method can be used for growing seedlings of plants with large seeds: courgettes, squash, pumpkins, corn (first sowing only), beans (first sowing only) and cucumbers.

This is an excellent method because the roots aren’t disturbed during transplanting. Cut the top and the bottom off from old drink / milk bottles to make sleeves. Put them in a tray in a sunny place where you will remember to water them regularly. Fill each sleeve with compost or a mix of compost, river sand and peat.

Put 2 seeds in each sleeve. If you plant two seeds and if you are lucky enough for them both to come up, one can be carefully transplanted or just thinned out.  The boxes of sleeves warm up much quicker than the garden soil.  It takes about 4 weeks for the plants to be ready for the garden, so mid October is the time to start for Show Day planting.

Beans need each other for support; sow 3 seeds in each sleeve and plant them all in one spot.

A broad bean  staked.When the time comes for transplanting, the roots of the plant hold the soil together inside the sleeve. Gently lift the sleeve out of the tray with a trowel. Dig a hole the size of the sleeve. Ease the plant out and firm in. They won’t even know that they have moved.


Running Leeks. The large leeks are ready to harvest.This is one of the hardest times of the year to find vegetables for eating. Root crops like parsnips left in the ground will have started growing again using the energy stored in their roots to quickly zap off to seed. In my garden I have a few beetroot lurking around and a couple of leeks left. Enter the ‘running’ leeks which make a tasty addition to the veggie pot at this time of year. They grow from little runners. Just harvest the biggest ones and they will continue to pop up and run around your garden.

The first of this season’s mesclun plus miner’s lettuce are ready for harvest. Salad Burnett is good for adding to salads at this time of year when the pickings are slim.

The perpetual spinach and silver beet, which are ready for harvest now, were planted in late autumn. In Delta, on the frost free wall, autumn planted red lettuces are ready.  The autumn planted spring onions are also growing quickly.

In the garden

Snow peas staked using crossed stakes.Peas and broad beans are up. The first row of spring onions have popped their heads up. The radish have their first leaves up. The garlic planted in June / July are now well away. The first snow peas are being staked. I stake the snow peas with bamboo stakes because I inherited a wee bamboo forest. I use the crossed staking method as shown.

Broad beans, which are grown in rows need to be staked. Broad beans which are grown in patches don’t need to be staked as they protect each other from the wind.

Lazing in the garden.

It is a good idea to take a cuppa and find a sunny patch to laze in the garden. This is highly health giving. If you are in doubt about the health giving properties of lazing ask your local cat or dog! Lazing is a good way to find out more about what is happening in your garden. For instance, while watching bumble bees pollinate the broad beans, I realised that the black spot on the flower is the landing strip.

A garden made of recycled bricks at Pack StPacke St Community Gardens

Unstaked broad beans at Packe St125-129 Packe Street
St Albans

Packe St is well worth a visit to see all the fruit trees and vegetables growing in an open park. It is a beautiful place to stop have lunch and let the kids play.


If you have any questions or queries you are welcome to email Mary.


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