Take time out from sowing seeds until after the 5th May

Take time out from sowing seeds until after the 5th May

Take time out from sowing seeds from Saturday 27th April until after the dark of the moon on Sunday 5th May 2019. As the moon nears its smallest visible ‘dark of the moon’ phase, this time is associated with spindly, weak growth – wait a week or so.

Do other things instead.

Such as enjoy the stunning autumn colours of trees, flowers and seeds in the garden.

Autumn is such a lovely month for flowers and color. Trees changing from green to gold, red and brown. Then shedding leaves onto the ground.

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For some of us, this is a gift of mulch/compost for the garden, nourishing plants we grow.

For some people, it’s a problem, creating mess, blocked drains and slippery paths.

So, if you are an avid gardener, consider leaves as a resource falling from our trees to the ground. Especially from our beautiful street trees which provide shade in summer and light in winter. It would be great if the leaves were used rather than taken away as waste by the council street sweeper.

And if your neighbors see the leaves as a problem, maybe you can relieve them of their problem to create a wonderful benefit in your garden. This is a great time to

  • Have a big ‘clean-up’ time! Build a new compost bin – this is a time when lots of annual plants die and are ready to be composted – a great mix with the carbon from leaves fallen to the ground and some grass clippings or manure.
  • Renovate garden beds ready for their next plantings and give them a covering of leaves over some compost and other nutrients. Stops weeds growing and soil washing away in heavy rain as well as giving the worms and other soil life protection from the cold winter weather.
  • Make some lovely leaf mold for great potting mixes in spring from the fallen leaves.
  • A-n-d  save seeds from your best plants when the seeds are fully formed and brown/black or otherwise matured so they will keep well.

 

Happy autumn gardening everyone!

May you and your garden flourish
Heather

PS

For more ideas about what to sow and when in NZ, have a look at Tui Planting calendar or at http://gardenate.com    [although I disagree with some of the recommendations as Auckland really is more temperate than sub-tropical we have found]

PPS:   

For more about planting by the  moon phases,

If you like experiments about when to plant for best results, a great one is to plant the same seeds in rows right beside each other [so all other conditions are identical], and label the rows with the date of planting. Then sow seeds from 1 packet at weekly intervals, each week in a new row.

This way you can see how the recommendations for best/worst seed sowing outcomes from moon-planting guides work for you. Maybe they do, and maybe they don’t.

I enjoy experimenting with such ideas – and if only I can rescue the rows from the snails and black-birds, I might even get some results to share!

Here’s a post I wrote about planting by the moon phases if you like more information and reflections on it.

Moon planting guides remind me to plant SOMETHING, plan a little, and help me have a continuous supply!

 —

Sow below-ground crops after 19th April

Sow below-ground crops after 19th April

Recommended best days for sowing seeds to grow great root crops are

Saturday 20th and Sunday 21st April, then again from Wednesday 24th to Friday 26th April 2019.

Often planting charts talk generally of sowing these seeds during the week after the full moon – which will be on Friday 19th April 2019.

Here in south Auckland the ground is moist and still warmish. According to NIWA seasonal forecast April-June 2019, it’s supposed to be warmer than average, with maybe less rainfall and soil moisture[?]. I wonder if we may still get further growth before the coldest part of the year.

So we are putting in some carrots – I prefer Egmont Gold as it is less affected by carrot fly.

Also beetroot, daikons, radish, parsnip, etc.

Garlic

Garlic can be planted from now with good results. We’ll prepare some areas and start putting the crop in from now onward until the shortest day.

Some years we’ve had great success with this crop – to read how we grew great garlic, go here.

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We’ll choose the biggest bulbs, with the biggest cloves to replant first. The bigger the seed clove, the bigger the food store for the new seedling so it has the best start to grow big and strong.

Then we’ll save the large cloves from smaller bulbs to also plant. [And eat the smaller cloves]

May you and your garden flourish
Heather

 

PS

For more ideas about what to sow and when in NZ, have a look at Tui Planting calendar or at http://gardenate.com    [although I disagree with some of the recommendations as Auckland really is more temperate than sub-tropical we have found]

 

PPS

For more about planting by the  moon phases,

If you like experiments about when to plant for best results, a great one is to plant the same seeds in rows right beside each other [so all other conditions are identical], and label the rows with the date of planting. Then sow seeds from 1 packet at weekly intervals, each week in a new row.

This way you can see how the recommendations for best/worst seed sowing outcomes from moon-planting guides work for you. Maybe they do, and maybe they don’t.

I enjoy experimenting with such ideas – and if only I can rescue the rows from the snails and black-birds, I might even get some results to share!

Here’s a post I wrote about planting by the moon phases if you like more information and reflections on it.

Moon planting guides remind me to plant SOMETHING, plan a little, and help me have a continuous supply!

Preparing for winter!

Preparing for winter!

Winter is coming. When we take stock and take charge, we can enjoy winter. What do you need to sort so you can enjoy this winter in your garden?

This info comes from an article I wrote for our local newsletter – and I thought it might be helpful to you as well so have included it here. Not all about gardens, but to enjoy our gardens we need the rest sorted too so here goes.

In our gardens

Trees – check for safety in high winds. Whole trees or dead branches ready to fall? Sort these now.

Wind and frost shelter for small, young trees can really help them survive and thrive.

The piks below show young citrus trees protected by mesh in an area exposed to strong, cold winds and frosts. They are doing fine in spite of the weather.

 

Protection for other crops can extend their season too. Lettuces go slimy in too much rain so a plastic cover can help grow nice lettuces.

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Paths and driveways can get slippery in winter. Do they need a clean off now so they will be safe?

Areas prone to become bogs? Standing water on grass/garden beds/paths? Any drainage you could do to sort this better so it is safe and more enjoyable to work in these areas?

Mulching can protect garden beds from heavy rain impact.

Slugs and snails emerge when the summer dry weather changes to wetter, cooler weather. Now’s a great time to reduce numbers so fewer are around to decimate leafy green crops and seedlings – 1 snail can chomp through so many seedlings that I had trouble believing it! Do you want more ideas on slug/snail control? Here’s a post I wrote with strategies we tried.

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Rain water

Winter can replenish supplies of water in the ground, re-vitalise soil, refill our water-tanks and dams. Wonderful!

If you want to catch water to use on your garden next summer, now is a great time to put in rain-tanks. There are so many options! Some are quick, easy and cheap. Others take more effort, time and $$. Here are a few ideas to start with.

 

It can also bring too much rain too quickly so the overflows surge out of streams, gutters, down-pipes, etc washing away our prized soil and plants, causing havoc in buildings, flooding roads etc.

Now is a great time to sort any issues with:

Gutters and downpipes on houses, sheds, garages

Are they working properly? Any obstacles to free flow of water down from roof so overflows don’t go down inside walls/ceilings? Some gutter types are better designed than others to clear excess water away from our homes. Worth a few minutes to check and clear debris collected in gutters now.

[PS: ‘ladder-safe’ awareness – you do not need to climb ladders – a plumber or home maintenance person will sort the gutters for you – it’s worth it from a safety aspect. Please be ‘ladder safe’. ]

Gully traps

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Connections to the sewerage system take dirty water from kitchen, bathroom and toilet through the gully traps. If not free-flowing – yukky mess which can spill out! Do you know where the pipes go down into the gully-trap pit? Can you check that the covers are in good condition, free from blockages? Otherwise, now is a great time to call a plumber to fix it.

Check storm-water flows in it’s own pipes so it does not flow into the sewerage system and overload it. If overloaded, the pipes overflow yuk around your place [or anyone elses]. Or into the beaches and harbours. Not nice at all. Sort it now.

Street gutters and catch-pits

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Rainwater falling on the ground flows down-slope into city/town streets where it is channelled to underground pipes via the gutters and catch-pits. People living down-slope from roads can be flooded in extreme rain when pits and gutters are blocked. How are your garden beds in relation to potential over-flows? Your paths and driveway? Buildings?

Roads themselves can be flooded and dangerous to drive on. It’s worth checking and clearing the road gutters and pits near you so excess water can get away rather than flood areas. Where is the nearest pit to your place? Is it clear?

Rats and Mice!!

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As the weather becomes colder and rainier, rodents look for warm shelter – our homes, garages, sheds are attractive targets. Compost bins and chook sheds are prime targets – warm and food provided!

Rodents [and possums too] also like quality home-grown food crops so if your fruit is munched, or carrots dug and mutilated etc, it’s worth making your place far less attractive, however works for you.

Check all round each likely target at your place. Also check under-floor spaces, in roof cavity and walls too for droppings. Also vehicles, engine areas etc. Target your defenses to places rodents like.

Which of the many defense options are best for you? Traps, live-catch traps, baits or ‘Good Nature’ traps as used by DOC. Ultrasonic deterrents? Other? Baits are recommended to be locked into traps inaccessible to small children and pets. Check traps often and remove rodents as appropriate, or replenish baits if needed.

Health

Your health and well-being matter – physical and mental.

Our gardens can help lift our spirits if we get out into them. When we are down, it’s hard to feel motivated but making an effort is so worthwhile.

Here’s a few other ways to support our health this winter.

Check stocks of remedies for winter ills [coughs, colds, etc] are current and ready.

Time for a health check with a doctor/nurse/health practitioner before winter?

Vaccinations – any relevant for you/ your family /pets?  flu up to date? 

Exercise – not so easy to keep fit [so helpful for staying healthy] in the colder, wetter months with shorter days – what strategies can you include in your days? Gardens can really get us warm and energised when we work hard clearing ground, digging [if you dig!], turning compost, carting compost to gardens, etc. So good.

Heating

Keeping warm really helps maintain health. We can be warm while physically active in a garden. We also benefit from keeping warm inside our homes.

Time to get heaters out of cupboards, dust them off and turn them on to check they will work when you need them.

Heat-pump – need filters cleaned [easy] or a service to work well?

Electric blankets – new? old? been folded up in a cupboard/box?If so, do have them checked for electrical safety before use. Many house fires have started from failed electric blankets, and that’s a big cost.

Wood-burners – does it need the flue checked and cleaned before use? No birds nests inside?

Ultra-dry firewood burns hottest and cleanest with minimum smoke  produced – time to check supplies? And/or purchase from a reputable seller so you get dry, long-burning wood?

Draughts – waste your precious heat and bring cold air in. Can you block up draughts? Seal door frames and window frames, fit protective curtains [apparently duvets or bubble-wrap make great insulation over windows to block heat loss!] Make ventilation, not draughts.

Humidity and mould

Excess humidity encourages mould growth on our plants, and in our homes it contributes to poor air quality.

In the garden, check and sort mould issues on leaves, fruit and flowers.

What strategies can you use to reduce excess humidity to make a comfortable home? Ventilation, dehumidifier, heat-pumps also remove moisture.

Wet clothes give off lots of moisture as they dry. Can they ‘solar dry’ sometimes outside? Can a dryer be vented to the outside?

Check windows, frames, blinds, curtains etc for black mould spots to be removed before winter humidity sets them growing.

Clothing

Are the winter clothes still OK to use? Are your winter garden clothes threadbare/falling apart with much use? Still warm or time to be replaced?

Boots, gumboots, clogs, shoes, or whatever you wear in the garden in winter – waterproof? Or cracking up and need repair/replacement?

Kids outgrown theirs and need bigger ones? Any you can pass on to other people to keep them warm this winter too?

Bedding

Are winter bedclothes still warm or getting worn and it’s time to replace them? Pillows, too as dust mites love old ones.

Hot-water bottles – still pliable and in good condition? Or getting small cracks indicating possible leaks? Is it time to replace before this happens?

Cars and other vehicles

Battery – as weather gets colder, batteries work harder to start the car. Is the battery a few years old? Time to visit a battery supplier/auto-electrician for a check-up before it fails?

Tyres – wet roads bring oil to the surface and can be very slippery. Have tyres lots of tread [>1.5mm thick all over] to grip the road for you? If they seem smooth and lost their grip, is it time for replacements? You and your family are important!

Wet slippery roads – accidents waiting to happen as other drivers forget to slow down and drive to the conditions. Allow extra time for trips so you and your family are safe on the roads.

Windscreen wipers getting old and leaving streaks across the windscreen? Not giving a clear view ahead? Will cleaning them remove build-up along the blade? Or a new set?

Does the windscreen washer container need filling with water/detergent solution/your favourite mix so it cleans the wet road grime off for you to see clearly, even in the rain?

Service cars [brakes, etc] before winter sets in?

Whatever you do now will be so much easier than when winter weather really sets in.

So you can enjoy the cooler months and the gifts they bring. Beauty of winter flowers, sparkling frost, crisp fresh air and sky.  What brings joy to your heart in winter?

Sow seeds for fruits and flowers before 19th April

Sow seeds for fruits and flowers before 19th April

Autumn here in New Zealand can be such a lovely time.

It’s time we can sow seeds for optimum growth of fruits, flowers and seed production this week after Sunday 13th,

especially Thursday 18th April 2019.

Before the full moon on Friday 19th April 2019.

 

Down-under, here in New Zealand,

The ground is still warm and seeds can germinate quickly. If you haven’t already planted these and have them growing strongly, another sowing can be worth a try. NIWA forecast a late, warm autumn so it’s worth a try still

We can still sow seeds throughout the week of

  • beans – if you can keep them warm. A plastic tunnel was great last year for us to get a good crop into winter. I sow direct and put out snail bait or surround them with plastic cut-off bottles to protect from snails and slugs which love baby seedling legumes. ‘Prince’ dwarf variety is good to grow now.
  • Peas! Maybe it’s time to plant peas again now – they like it cooler so will crop when the cooler weather arrives.  Plant the seeds 3x diameter of the seed to keep them down where the soil will be moister than near the surface where they could still dry out.
  • Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussel-sprouts, kale, etc – seedlings rather than seeds probably would be better now.
  • Flowers – check requirements. Now we can plant flowers which will over-winter – different types to spring planting. Sweet peas! Love them.

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This week the moon is growing towards full and the days listed are when many aspects line up to give optimum good germination for strong seedlings. Worth a try I think.

 

May you and your garden flourish
Heather

PS

For more ideas about what to sow and when in NZ, have a look at  http://gardenate.com

 

PPS

For more about planting by the  moon phases,

If you like experiments about when to plant for best results, a great one is to plant the same seeds in rows right beside each other [so all other conditions are identical], and label the rows with the date of planting. Then sow seeds from 1 packet at weekly intervals, each week in a new row.

This way you can see how the recommendations for best/worst seed sowing outcomes from moon-planting guides work for you. Maybe they do, and maybe they don’t.

I enjoy experimenting with such ideas – and if only I can rescue the rows from the snails and black-birds, I might even get some results to share!

Here’s a post I wrote about planting by the moon phases if you like more information and reflections on it.

Moon planting guides remind me to plant SOMETHING, plan a little, and help me have a continuous supply!

 

 

 

 

Chokos and the ‘look-alike’ noxious Moth Plant pest – which have you got?

Chokos and the ‘look-alike’ noxious Moth Plant pest – which have you got?

It’s choko time again! A-n-d the pest moth plant is fruiting too. As the seeds of moth plant are apparently poisonous, please know a real choko from the poisonous alternative.

So how to tell the delicious choko from the look-alike noxious moth plant?!

Which is choko and which is Moth Plant?

 

The fruit look ‘sorta similar’ from the outside so people can easily confuse the two. Yet the leaves, flowers and seeds are different. 

Here’s how:

The Leaves

Choko

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Choko leaves are similar to grape vine leaves, whereas Moth Plant leaves are different.

Moth Plant:

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Moth Plant leaves and fruit

The Fruits

Choko fruit cut in half. One seed in the middle of the fruit.

 

Moth Plant fruit cut in half – showing the many, many seeds in a clump in the center.

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See also the flesh is different – harder, and has a milky sap which can be really irritating so best to not touch it at all [if you must pick this plant, use gloves].

 

The Seeds

The single seed of the choko sprouts a little root and shoot from the fruit to grow one new plant.

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Whereas the Moth Plant fruit produces millions of fluffy seeds as it splits the old, shriveled fruit [so its also called ‘kapok plant’] to fly on the wind far and wide.

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The flowers

Chokos have 2 types of flowers – the little white-petaled  male ones grow in a long group. The female one [which  forms the fruit we eat] is a single one and hangs from a stalk on the small end of the fruit.

 

Moth Plant flowers look very different:

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Moth plant fruit hangs from a stalk on the fat end of the fruit.

Here’s a link to a Wikipedia article on Moth Plant [also known as Kapok plant, Common moth vine, Cruel vine, and White bladder] for more info.  Also, here’s a Weed Busters article.

 

I hope this post makes clear the difference between the delicious, edible choko and the noxious, pest Moth Plant.

 

For more about the delicious chokos:

See the post for how we grow the plants and also for recipes using the fruits too.

Enjoy!

 

 

Plant leafy greens after 5th April

Plant leafy greens after 5th April

Lettuces love cooler weather.

And other leafy greens – endive, miners lettuce [not really a lettuce], gotu kola, parsley, rocket, chervil, coriander, etc.

There are so many ways to have the benefit of raw, leafy greens, even in winter.

This is a good time to plant a new lot of lettuce and other greens to provide lovely leaves for many months now the weather is cooler as the days are shorter. And it’s too cold for the caterpillars soon.

Caterpillars in autumn seem to love leafy green lettuces here. Green looper caterpillars created havoc last year. This year I have planted them under an insect mesh net. Let’s see if that is better!

They don’t seem to like the endive or other greens nearly as much as succulent, juicy lettuce.

 

Moisture

It’s such a balancing act – too much moisture [either from over-head rain or watering] makes for constantly wet leaves which touch each other, hold moisture and become slimy or mush – not nice!

Keep them just moist so they can germinate and grow strong roots. Sometimes a tunnel-house or cover can grow  greens well when there is too much rain about. Isn’t Auckland amazing with the amount of rain and warmth we get.

 

Soil temperature

Too cold  and seeds take ages to start to grow.

Try an experiment some time and go out at mid-afternoon and put your hand flat onto soil in full sun and notice how cold/hot it is. Now feel soil in a shaded place. Then choose where best to sow/plant for your crops.

Best times for planting seeds of greens?

After the new moon on Friday 5th April 2019 is the best week to plant for lush leafy greens.

The best days are Sunday 7th – Monday 8th, and again on Thursday arvo 11th – Friday 12 April 2019. 

 

May you and your garden flourish
Heather

PS

For more ideas about what to sow and when in NZ, have a look at  http://gardenate.com

 

PPS

For more about planting by the  moon phases,

If you like experiments about when to plant for best results, a great one is to plant the same seeds in rows right beside each other [so all other conditions are identical], and label the rows with the date of planting. Then sow seeds from 1 packet at weekly intervals, each week in a new row.

This way you can see how the recommendations for best/worst seed sowing outcomes from moon-planting guides work for you. Maybe they do, and maybe they don’t.

I enjoy experimenting with such ideas – and if only I can rescue the rows from the snails and black-birds, I might even get some results to share!

Here’s a post I wrote about planting by the moon phases if you like more information and reflections on it.

Moon planting guides remind me to plant SOMETHING, plan a little, and help me have a continuous supply!

Of beans in winter

Of beans in winter

If you want to try extending the season for beans into colder months, here’s an experiment we ran to do so.

I planted beans mid autumn as an experiment – lets see if we can extend our bean season!

I’d heard from Stella that ‘Prince’ dwarf beans were OK to eat and grew better than others in cooler conditions – early in the season and late at the end of the normal bean season.

We gave the bed some compost, rock fertilizer and ‘Fodda’ with wonderful mix of nutrients. Just a little as beans will produce the part we like to eat better with little nitrogen [or they make lots of leaves and few fruits we eat].

They grew – and grew well.

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Then the weather got cooler. Cold winds were forecast so out came a plastic tunnel house to protect them.

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Beans growing in winter under a plastic tunnel 20170529

They kept growing then flowered – and then fruited – and kept fruiting for weeks!

We were very impressed [well, those who like beans were. Those who aren’t beans fans were not very impressed at all].

Eventually they slowed down in bean production. The weather turned even colder and a real winter storm was forecast mid July in Auckland, so I finally cut the stems off at the base [leaving the roots to decompose and add nitrogen and other nutrients to the soil].

When it arrived, mid July in Auckland, with cold, rain, southerly winds straight off the antarctic ice, we were eating the productive bean harvest from yesterday – aren’t plastic tunnels amazing!

Here’s the last of the smaller beans for us to eat [shown in the colander].

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Beans with big seeds were left on the plants. I put them in a bucket to have time to send the nutrients from the plant into the seeds as they ripened and made hard seed coats. These will be our seeds to plant next season.

 

Overall, we were thrilled to have extended the season way beyond our normal one so will consider doing this again in future.

Maybe you might like to extend seasons of your favorite crops with plastic houses or tunnels or cloches too. It’s well worth a try.

May you and your garden flourish
Heather