Plant leafy greens now – and save some for seeds for next year’s crops

Plant leafy greens now – and save some for seeds for next year’s crops

Useful info for planting seeds to produce great crops of leafy greens:

Best phase of the moon is the week after the new moon on Tuesday 9th October 2018.

Best days are

  • Wednesday October 10th through to Friday 12th, then again
  • Monday 15th October and Tuesday 16th October 2018.

 

Leafy greens grow best in cooler, moister conditions. Sometimes we are lucky about this time of year. We have lots of varieties to choose from so now is a time for quick-maturing ones and heat-resistant varieties too. Those planted now will mature in warmer weather so keep an eye on them.

Watch out for a short hot spell which sends them to seed. Get ready to harvest leaves [they keep in the fridge for some days].

If it gets warm, well, that’s great for other crops so when we lose the lettuces we gain great tomatoes, pumpkins and zucchinis etc. So, for me, its all in how I look at the situation. We also grow mizuna, magenta spreen and other greens to fill the gaps.

When the leafy greens do bolt to flower and seed, that’s a great time to save yourself some well-adapted seeds which can regrow next season.

Plants which have grown well, producing abundant leaves over a long time – your best performers – are prime ones to save seeds from. Choose which now.

 

Choose the best performers and give them a  stake for support. As well as supporting the tall growth, the stake helps us remember to keep that plant for seed [and tells enthusiastic helpers to leave it alone!]

Could little lettuces, parsley, endive or silver-beet plants really need a stake?

They shoot up and up and up – as tall as me. And then blow over in strong winds; onto any other plants nearby. Not so good. Strong stakes support them and give an attachment point to confine their expansive spreading ways!

 

20141225_171548
Red-stemmed silver-beet and parsley flowering and seeding – 1.5 m tall and still going up!

 

How do we choose which plants to allow to seed and which not?

Here are the factors we use for saving leafy greens seeds:

And

If we left the first plants to shoot up and seed, we are selecting for a shorter season of the leaves we like – hmmm.

 

Each garden is a unique little environment of its own – no two are the same.

Saving your own high-quality seed gives you a huge advantage next season in the garden which grew the seed!

 

Consider the whole life-cycle when you are choosing which plants to let flower and seed. There’s more about what to look for in this post.

Saving seeds is a wonderful adventure where we can experiment – and you never know when you will get wonderful types just right for you and your garden.

 

For a note about cross-pollination, see this important information

Pollen of one variety can cross-pollinate other similar types so it’s well worth finding which you need to be careful with.

Have a great time saving your very own seeds. For more about saving leafy green seed, here’s the post again.

 

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!

 

Take time out from sowing seeds until after the 9th October

Take time out from sowing seeds until after the 9th October

Take time out from sowing seeds from Tuesday 2nd October until after the dark of the moon on Tuesday 9th October 2018. 

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 [and when the ground is warm!].

Maybe give some protection to anything still growing which likes some shelter from wind and rain. Plastic tunnels are very handy at this time.

Also,

  • Prepare garden beds for planting
  • either stake plants you wish to keep for seed production [for next year’s crops]
  • or remove the bolting plants [like the beet stalks above]to free up space for new crops
  • Collect items such as plastic covers, bird-net, pegs, snail deterrent/bait/traps so your efforts planting will be able to survive the animals/birds/weather
  • Plan your next seed sowing, your garden layout, or crop rotation to minimize pest and diseases.

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!

 —

It’s time to plant for strong root growth after 25th September

It’s time to plant for strong root growth after 25th September

Here in New Zealand, it’s good to sow seeds for strong root growth next week [which is after the full moon on Tuesday 25th September 2018].

  • Especially good on Friday 28th and Saturday 29th September 2018 .

 

The ground is warming up, we’ve had good rains here in Auckland, and this is a great time to sow some root crops!

 

I might sow some more

  • daikon radish – larger seeds can be sown deeper so will stay more moist. The white root is great to eat. Some people use the top green leaves too.20160927_172201
  • beetroot – ‘seed’ is a largish cluster of seeds so can also be planted deeper.  ‘Bulls blood’ or ‘Detroit red’ are some tried and true heritage varieties we use. We also like ‘chiogga’ with it’s alternating circles of red and white – stunning looking sometimes!
  • carrots

It’s a delight when we do grow carrots. The tiny seeds need to be planted close to the surface and kept moist.  Hot sun dries them out quickly – and they die fast. Maybe it’s still early enough in Spring that the ground is moist and the sun just warm rather than hot?

 

It’s best to sow carrot seeds directly in the ground as they dislike root disturbance being transplanted [they are very likely to bolt straight to seed and make no root for us to eat].

Why do carrots so often make odd-shaped roots?  When the ground is

  • hard,
  • clay,
  • rocky,
  • too rich with compost/manures/fertilizer.

The delicate seedlings are programmed to send roots downwards. As they grow down, when tiny roots contact hard spots [like rocks], they go round and grow more options [= forked roots]. They also avoid anything too rich in nutrients for the rootlets to process.

 

PS Seeds like ‘real’ water – preferably rain. Otherwise the nearest is tank water of stored rain. Then maybe bore water, last treated water from a mains supply.

One older gardener we knew would place all sorts of containers outside to catch the rain to water her seedlings. She used all sorts from teapots on – she also grew great veg!

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!

Growing a year’s supply of pumpkins/squash/zucchinis and a tasty alternative

Growing a year’s supply of pumpkins/squash/zucchinis and a tasty alternative

Pumpkins/squashes/zucchini [courgettes]  can be sequenced to provide crops over a longer time span. Here’s how we approach it:

First we plant 1-2 zucchinis in pots in early spring, inside a plastic-bag ‘mini hothouse’then transplant them into a rich, protected garden bed when the soil has warmed up. These are amazingly hardy and prolific [and they are bushes rather than rampant vines].

We like ‘Zorro’ variety for it’s hardiness, good taste and productivity.

2014-11-22 15.03.59
Zucchini plant growing strongly

We usually also plant non-hybrid varieties a little later. This year ‘Cocozelle’ was the one we put in – and they grew wonderfully. These give a solid-fleshed fruit with a great buttery taste. And produced heaps of fruit. Really lovely.

Then, we plant a number of ‘tromboncino squash’ seeds into rich, warm soil in the garden in late Spring. These rampant vines will start fruiting later than the Zorro zucchinis – and keep going longer too.

They produce ‘crook necked’ type squash which are wonderfully tasty when small [less than my hand long].

A.N.D the ones we miss grow and grow and grow some more so quickly. There’s an in-between stage which is meh – so they go into soup. We leave most of them on the vine to mature. When the vine dies back the squash skin gets harder and harder – these fruit store well. And the flesh gets sweeter and richer – we think they are best baked or made into soup.

There are a number of varieties and we have tried 3 so far:

  1. Our favorite ‘tromboncino squash’ is from Running Brook Seeds [only available in NZ]. It is long, tasty, has a dark green skin and stores well too.
  2. Second is from ‘Diggers Seeds’ in Australia – nice taste, with light-green skin.
  3. Another is called ‘rampicante squash’ [here in NZ] with dark-green skin.

 

Third, main-crop pumpkins/squash go into warm, rich Spring soil. Their fruit will form hard skins and keep well. There are so many varieties to try!

A standard pumpkin here is a ‘grey’ and can form a nice tasty fruit which keeps well. This one is reliable for us.

12898258_900147743416881_1502145590120298891_o
pumpkin/squash harvest

Then there are all the seedlings which come up from the home-made compost. Sometimes they grow wonderful fruit without any effort on our part at all. The above harvest includes these bountiful plants results – grey pumpkins, buttercup, tromboncinos [2 types].

Some varieties we used to grow well in Australia do poorly here in Auckland, or are not available at all. Would love to grow sweet butternuts but here in south Auckland it hasn’t been hot enough for them to flourish yet. Maybe one year! In Australia we grew Jap pumpkins which were delicious – but like it hot too – and I haven’t seen seeds here yet.

We get better results when we choose varieties adapted to local conditions where-ever we are than expect the same results everywhere.

We find Kings Seeds and Running Brook Seeds [2018-19 catalog] [see more through Kirian Farms] have interesting varieties.

Here’s Musquee de Provence – a buttery pumpkin which becomes flavorful in hot, dry conditions. In Auckland it can be bland when summer is wet. This one is stored on wire rack in cool room on east side of house.

Musquee de Provence Pumpkin 20180423

Store round pumpkins on their side so moisture does not accumulate in depressions which then start to rot. Where the stalk joins the fruit, and the base are prime places to collect moisture]. Pumpkins last far longer in storage if we can keep them free of moisture and rot.

Here’s Marina di Chiogga growing well. It stores really well for a long time and tastes good too.

20180423_172304

The piece of wood was placed underneath the pumpkin fruit to keep it up off the wet ground so it doesn’t rot before it is ripe enough to pick. It will be ready to pick when the fruit stalk turns hard and brown, and tendrils near the fruit also turn brown and withered.

 

And after the pumpkins have been harvested, and the zucchinis have finished fourth, we use chokos – not a zucc but it is a delicious replacements for zuccs. The chokos are just starting and, when they are very small, thumb-sized, they are really tasty and almost sweet.

Choko is also called chayote (Sechium edule) and is an edible plant belonging to the gourd family of Cucurbitaceae rather than the pumpkin family. For more info see wikipedia.org/wiki/Chayote

Saving seeds for next years pumpkin crops:

If you wish to save seeds from pumpkins, squash or zucchinis, many cross-pollinate so check out options before beginning. Check how to save their seeds to get true-breeding results.

Plant just one variety from each type/species and there are no issues with cross-pollination problems – as long as neighbors do not also have pumpkins growing! Bees can bring pollen a long way so it is safer to hand-pollinate your flowers for next year’s crop. For more info on hand-pollinating your pumpkins go here.

There are 3 main types/groups [species]:

Cucurbita maxima are the larger pumpkins, often with tough skin and long-keepers. Buttercup, Queensland Blue, Jarrahdale, Turks Turban, Banana Squash, Hubbard Squash, and many more.

Cucurbita moschata are usually smaller, sweet, including butternuts, crookneck squash, Jap etc [we found they like hotter conditions than we have here to become sweet and flavorful].

Cucurbita pepo include zucchinis, crooknecks, scallops, acorn squash, some winter squash and some ornamental gourds [so a lot of cross-pollination is possible!]

 

We plant a variety of types and times so hopefully some will do well to give a harvest no matter what the weather does – hot/dry/cold/wet.

 

May your food 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!

Sow seeds for fruits and flowers this week! Woo hoo!

Sow seeds for fruits and flowers this week! Woo hoo!

It’s time to sow seeds for fruits and flowers this week – Tuesday 18th September 2018 until morning of Thursday 20th Sept + again on Sunday 23rd + Monday 24th September 2018 [here in New Zealand]

Before the full moon on Tuesday 25th September 2018.

Spring seems to have sprung!

In Auckland the weather has been milder than usual so we will sow lots of seeds this spring.

Seeds need warm soil to sprout and grow so most tomatoes etc will go into pots on our back patio where they will be warm, out of the cold wind, and cared for – because I see them often there.

This is a wonderful time to sow and I’ll really enjoy sowing – there is such potential for wonderful future harvests. So many varieties can be sown in Spring – although some prefer late spring with warm soil so check before sowing.

  • tomatoes [somewhere warm in seed trays. Our back patio, probably on the table is a good spot – leaving a little space for us to put out a meal to eat there too!]  I’ll sow a number of varieties so hopefully some will do well no matter what the weather does this year – hot/dry/cold/wet.
  • pumpkins/squashes/zucchini [courgettes]/cucumbers and other cucurbits can start in a warm spot as long as you can keep them warm [Also wonderful ones like bitter melons, spaghetti squash, gourds – but these go into the ground later as they need it warmer]
  • peas and beans [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]
  • Maybe chilies, peppers [capsicum] and eggplants [aubergine] in special little pots and tendered lovingly in the hope they will grow and fruit. Where we live often has cold southerly winds and this group like it hot! I make each a little ‘hot-house’ with a plastic bag over the pot and around the plants when I transplant them to the garden. Sometimes we get fruit.
  • Flowers of all sorts [well, the ones which like starting in Spring].

 

Planting heat-lovers [tomatoes, chilies, melons, corn, etc] in open ground for  is often given as late October/early November here in NZ.  I can transplant tomatoes, chilies, zucchinis then. They will be bigger and more resistant to weather and pests too.

Some plants do not transplant well so it is much better to wait for warm ground and sow directly in the soil so there is no root disturbance.  I’ll wait until November to plant corn and melons   it’s way too cold for them to thrive yet – even if the air is warm, the ground is not warm enough for them yet.

I so often have got impatient to grow these and planted them early as the sun was out, the air was warm, yet the ground was still cold. Seeds often did not sprout. Seedlings sat and shivered and were a magnet for snails, slugs and diseases. For strong healthy plants, the ground needs to be warm so I try for more patience.

This week the moon is growing towards full and the days listed above are when many aspects line up to give optimum good germination for strong seedlings – whether in the ground or in pots or a tray on a heat pad. Worth a try I think.

May your sowing and planting be successful with wonderful outcomes.
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!

It’s time to sow seeds of leafy greens this week

It’s time to sow seeds of leafy greens this week

Sow seeds for luscious, tender leafy greens this next week – and best days are Tuesday 11th September 2018 through to the morning of Saturday 15th [here in New Zealand]

 

 

In Auckland the weather has been alternated between winter chills with winds off the Antarctic through to warm and wet weather out of the tropics.  Welcome to Spring!

Let’s hope for good germination and root growth of new seedlings.

It is really important to have fresh, viable, strong seeds; preferably adapted to our local conditions if we want good harvests. 

If the seed quality is poor then it grows poor seedlings, prone to disease and pests. Which gives us, as gardeners, a struggle to get the harvest we are looking for. Start with quality seed and the seedlings have a chance to grow strongly.

It’s time to re-plant crops which have fed us throughout winter as these will start to make seed-heads rather than leaves now the weather is getting warmer.

I will sow seeds throughout the week of

  • Lettuce – I left many varieties to seed so hopefully some will do well no matter what the weather does this year – hot/dry/cold/wet. We’ve been eating the outer leaves from many varieties of the loose-leaf lettuces for months. Now these plants will be shooting up a stalk to make seeds.
  • Silver-beet [including rainbow chard/ bright light beets – the ones with vibrant colored stems – so stunning to see in a garden] we left to seed in the garden and they are sprouting up now. Some people like perpetual beet [to us here, it is tougher and less tasty]. I think it’s too late to plant spinach before the hotter weather would send it quickly to seed instead of producing leaves.
  • Rocket [Arugula] is tasty rather than bitter at this time. We plant 2 types – the large leaf annual and the stronger, smaller-leaf perennial rocket
  • Coriander pretty nice early in the season before the heat of summer sends it bolting to seed with little leaf production.
  • Asian greens [assorted] – here they grow well in the cooler months – they grow so fast! We have Mizuna self-seeding. We grow 2 types – an ordinary green one as well as the deep red one – stunning in the garden [for a short time]
  • Endive  We grow 2 types – a broader leaf variety and a lovely fine, frilly variety. They are lovely and tender in cooler months so we enjoy them now. Both grow more slowly than lettuce.

This is a great time to have leafy greens grow well – they love cooler, wetter times.

 

Later, when the weather warms up they bolt to seed fast and produce fewer leaves which easily go bitter.

Remember to protect seedlings from slugs and snails which appear in spring. Here’s a post of our exploration with different methods.

Enjoy delightful salads with a range of leaf types in these spring months.

 

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!

 —

Take time out from sowing seeds until after the 10th September

Take time out from sowing seeds until after the 10th September

Take time out from sowing seeds from Monday 3rd September until after the dark of the moon on Monday 10th September 2018. 

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 [and when the ground is warm!].

Maybe give some protection to anything still growing which likes some shelter from wind and rain. Plastic tunnels are very handy at this time.

Also,

  • Prepare garden beds for Spring planting
  • Collect items such as plastic covers, bird-net, pegs, snail deterrent/bait/traps so your efforts planting will be able to survive the animals/birds/weather
  • Plan your next seed sowing, your garden layout, or crop rotation to minimize pest and diseases.

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!

 —