pre­par­ing for win­ter

It’s cool­ing down and growth rates are slow­ing. It’s time to harvest, re-re­plant and bat­ten down the hatches.

Element - - Contents - By Janet Luke Janet Luke is a land­scape ar­chi­tect with a pas­sion for sus­tain­able liv­ing. She is the di­rec­tor of Green Ur­ban Liv­ing and the au­thor of a book by the same name, avail­able in good book stores. Visit greenur­ban­liv­ing.co.nz

We are now in the sec­ond month of au­tumn and some of us are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a no­tice­able drop in overnight tem­per­a­tures. This is a great month to clean up the gar­den. Burn all dis­eased plants and com­post any other or­ganic mat­ter.

Ripe for the pick­ing

Aubergine and the last av­o­ca­dos are avail­able. Car­rots, cel­ery and the last of the sum­mer cour­gettes are here. New sea­son ku­mara is also ready.

Vegetable gar­den

Do you have any toma­toes still grow­ing which are tak­ing an age to ripen and turn red? Harvest them now and make green tomato chut­ney. Al­ter­na­tively you can pull up the en­tire plant and hang in a cool place. The fruit will ripen as it hangs. Pump­kins may also be ready to harvest. When the stem of the pump­kin is dry it is ready to be cut. Stored on a shelf with­out touch­ing each other, pump­kins will last through win­ter. Keep plant­ing small reg­u­lar sow­ings of win­ter crops. Why not try grow­ing some less com­mon bras­sica va­ri­eties such as curly leafed kale, great stir fried with but­ter, or Tus­can kale (Cavelo Nero) which is lovely quickly fried in but­ter and served in a pasta dish. Plant broad bean and beet­root seeds straight into the gar­den. I al­ways soak the corky look­ing beet­root seeds for 24 hours be­fore­hand to soften the seed. If you are short on spare time, and who isn’t, choose to grow the dwarf broad bean as it does not re­quire so much stak­ing and sup­port as its lofty broth­ers.

Ur­ban fruit

Keep har­vest­ing the late sea­son ap­ples such as Fuji and Brae­burn. Fei­joas are abun­dant this month. Make crum­bles, muffins, smooth­ies or wine with the ex­cess. I scoop out the fei­joa flesh and freeze in ice cream con­tain­ers for later. Prune your fei­joa tree once you have har­vested the crop. Fei­joa flow­ers grow at the base of new growth and the flow­ers are pol­li­nated by birds. Open the tree up by re­mov­ing dense branches to al­low birds to reach these flow­ers. Fruit trees will ben­e­fit from a feed this month. Spread com­post or blood and bone fer­tiliser around the drip line of each tree or bush.

Herbs

It is a good time to plant Chervil. This herb looks sim­i­lar to pars­ley and can be used in soups, sal­ads and vine­gars. Sow the seeds or plant in full sun in a rich soil. You can leave the plant to self seed. The com­frey plant is a great peren­nial herb to have in your gar­den. The leaves look like over­sized hairy dock leaves and the plant has a deep tap root. It mines min­er­als from the soil and stores them in the leaf. The plant is not for eat­ing but does have many uses around the gar­den. Cut the leaves and spread around your fruit trees, add to your com­post, make a fer­tiliser tea or feed to your chooks.

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