Reap, then Sow
February is the month to start preparing for winter. Sowing seeds and transplanting seedlings of your favourite winter veges in the garden now will help them get off to a rocking start before the winter cold slows their growth. Pull out your old summer crops, add some compost and get planting for winter now.
Ripe for the picking
Aubergine, avocados, apples and apricots are all abundant. And that is just the start of the alphabet! Feast on the last of the summer corn and capsicum. Enjoy the new season garlic and potatoes. Figs, grapes and blueberries are also in season. Buy tomatoes, onions, celery and courgette and get making your homemade pasta sauce.
Rip out your old “has been” summer crops and throw on compost to grow you more healthy soil for next season. If your corn is done, chop the stalks into 10cm pieces and let rot directly in your garden. Sweetcorn will return important carbon to your soil. Any spare space in the garden can be planted in winter brassicas. They are hungry plants so cover the soil with fresh compost before planting. Sow more lettuces. I cover my young lettuces with netting to keep the wild birds and escaped chickens from nibbling the succulent leaves. Remember snails and slugs will devour these verdant young things in a night so apply some snail bait, coffee grounds or copper tape around your lettuce plants. Plant carrots and parsnips and beetroot. To ensure a good germination of these root crops keep the area constantly moist.
With all those summer drinks mint is a very important herb to have in the garden. Mint prefers a cool, damp site. When conditions are right it will literally take over your garden sending out underground runners everywhere. To prevent this, plant your mint in a sunken terracotta pot in your garden bed. This will tame the roots. Regular picking of the end leaves will keep the plant bushy. Gin and tonic anyone?
This is a hairy-leaved, clump-forming perennial. It is a great plant-and-forget herb as it is very hardy and foolproof. It prefers rich moist soil in full sun or light shade. Use the leaves in a herbal tea or to flavour sauces and soups. This herb is reputed to lower blood pressure, nervous tension and insomnia. Note to self, must drink more of it during the evening “witching hour”. The bees love the flowers. Janet Luke is a Landscape Architect with a passion for sustainable living and her business greenurbanliving.co.nz. Her first book, Green Urban Living is available in good book shops.