Reap, then Sow

Element - - Gardening -

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.

Vege gar­den

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.

Herbs

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?

Lemon balm

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.

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