Sow seeds for leafy greens next week – Tuesday 19th through to Thursday 21st December 2017 and then again from Sunday 24th through to the morning of Tuesday 26th [here in New Zealand].
This is a challenging time to grow leafy greens – through the festive season and summer!
If you do plant, go for heat-lovers and know that cool-loving lettuce, spinach, coriander [cilantro] take more care and attention at this time – can you give it to them now?
Leafy greens are best in semi-shade now as they bolt to seed in strong sun and dry soil. They need constant moisture to stay tender so keep a watch on soil moisture around them [I poke a finger into the soil and feel if its moist or not]. Automatic watering systems are wonderful now.
It’s good to sow new batches often so there are more growing leaves when previous crops are making flowers and seeds instead.
If you do sow seeds, choose from
- Lettuce – maybe I’ll spread around seed-heads from a number of summer varieties so hopefully some will do well no matter what the weather does this year – hot/dry/wet. In shade!
- Silver-beet [including rainbow chard/ bright light beets – the ones with vibrant colored stems – so stunning to see in a garden] These are self-seeding around the garden at present.
- Rocket [Arugula] – maybe lucky to get some leaves before they bolt to seed – in which case, the seeds will be waiting there for cooler weather. Or check out the perennial version which is stronger tasting, and has finely divided leaves. It seems to survive the heat better.
- Asian greens – maybe mizuna.
- New Zealand Spinach – ours is self-seeding so I’ll look see if there are little, new ones growing. It’s OK cooked [needs 2 changes of boiling water to draw out and minimize the oxalic acid content – in the same way that adult forms of true spinach and silver-beet also need]
- Hot-climate ‘greens’ including:
Magenta Spreen [Chenopodium giganteum] – see Wikipedia for more info
Amaranth [we like Mekong Red = Amaranthus tricolor] – see Wikipedia for more info
Orach [Atriplex hortensis] – see Wikipedia for more info
All grow more strongly in warmer weather than do lettuce or silver-beet. Most also grow far taller than lettuce. Do some research. Have a go with something different too.
Summer is a challenging time to have traditional leafy greens grow well – they much prefer cooler weather.
Grow hot-climate greens instead now.
Enjoy the festive season, the garden will be waiting for you later when there is time and you can enjoy it too.
Best wishes and enjoy the warm weather, the festive season and your garden!