Au­tumn sow­ing tips

We’re on the road into win­ter, but there’s still plenty to pro­duce for your kitchen.

NZ Lifestyle Block - - Contents - Words Jane Wrig­glesworth

Sow kale di­rectly.

Give it an open site in fer­tile, well-drained, but mois­ture- re­ten­tive soil. Kale doesn’t like acid­ity, so add lime be­fore plant­ing if nec­es­sary. The more com­post or aged ma­nure you can in­cor­po­rate into the soil, the bet­ter. The less fer­tile the soil, the more bit­ter the leaves.

Make an all-pur­pose in­sec­ti­cide from home­grown plants.

Place equal quan­ti­ties of chopped mint, onion, gar­lic and laven­der (a nat­u­ral in­sec­ti­cide) flow­ers and stems in a bucket of wa­ter. Leave for 24 hours, strain, then spray on plants.

Dig up the last of your po­ta­toes.

If there’s any hint of dis­ease in your patch, throw the fo­liage in the bin rather than the com­post to pre­vent dis­ease spreading. Bring the spuds to the sur­face and leave ex­posed for a few hours. Don’t leave them out overnight or slugs and snails will have a field day. Place in thick pa­per or hes­sian sacks and store in a cool spot. Be care­ful not to bruise po­ta­toes when har­vest­ing as this en­cour­ages rot to de­velop.

Sow mesclun, rocket, corn salad, spinach and Asian greens (mizuna, mi­buna and gi­ant red mus­tard). All are cold-hardy, but if frosts come early in your area, sow in pots that can be po­si­tioned in a warm, shel­tered spot, or use a cloche.

Plant a green ma­nure crop in your va­cant po­tato patch.

Green ma­nures are dug into the ground be­fore flow­er­ing to re­turn nu­tri­ents to the soil. Mus­tard is ideal fol­low­ing po­ta­toes. It’s quick grow­ing and can be turned into the soil in July or Au­gust, giv­ing it time to de­com­pose (5-6 weeks) and en­rich the soil be­fore spring plant­ing be­gins. Mus­tard is a bras­sica so avoid fol­low­ing it with other bras­si­cas.

Sow seeds of car­rots, beet­root, radishes and spring onions.

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