In synch with the season
Traditionally, Labour Weekend has been the time for planting out vegetables and flowers. And not just because it’s a long weekend. By about the end of October the possibility of frost is fairly unlikely so it’s relatively safe for the tender plants.
Hardier brassicas, silverbeet, lettuce and peas can be planted prior to Labour Weekend.
Potatoes too, keeping emerging shoots covered to prevent frost damage.
They should be ready to harvest for Xmas day.
At Labour Weekend unleash corn, beans, beetroot, radish, carrots, parsnips, pumpkins, squash and melons.
Pre-germinated and sprouted tomato plants, cucumber and kumera should be ready to go too, so long as the soil has warmed up and the chill factors lessened.
You’ll have better strike rates too if you keep these plants on the dry side.
Plants grown in containers can do well in a glasshouse before being hardened off or sprayed with Vaporgard for planting outdoors when the weather has settled.
No glasshouse? Heating the soil is important to encourage germination, root development and early growth.
To plant an early crop of dwarf beans, make a trench about 10 cm deep and 10cm wide.
Fill it almost to the top with lawn clippings and trample down.
Sprinkle with Wally’s Calcium & Health or soft garden lime.
Then add a dressing of blood and bone, animal manure or sheep manure pellets, Rok Solid, a sprinkling of BioPhos and cover with a good purchased compost made from animal manures not green waste.
Place the seeds onto this compost and spray with a combo of Magic Botanical Liquid (MBL) and Mycorrcin to speed up germination. Cover with more compost.
The heat from the breaking down grass clippings will warm the compost above to encourage germination and good root development.
Plants under cover will grow twice as quickly as unsheltered plants.
To keep cold winds, late frosts, cats and birds off, use #8 wire hoops about 20cm at the high point, to support clear plastic film or crop cover appropriately weighted down at the edges.
This mini tunnel house will provide protection for the young plants.
After they’ve established, pick a warm day and fold the cover back to start hardening off. Recover at night. Repeat two or three times before removing the cover completely.
For taller growing plants such as brassicas, make half-metre tall hoops from rigid alkathene pipe.
An alternative is to place 2-litre clear plastic fruit juice containers with the bottom cut off and the cap removed over each seedling.
For zucchini, half fill a 45-litre container with purchased green waste free compost, add grass clippings, chook manure, Calcium & Health, Rok Solid, blood & bone, Bio Boost, and BioPhos, then cover with more compost.
Plant and water in with some MBL & Mycorrcin, and keep covered until the weather settles.
Without bumble bees you’ll need to pollinate the female flowers by hand.
Also check for insects under the leaves. Spray any with Wally’s Neem Tree Oil and Key Pyrethrum.
Problems ring me at 0800 466464 (Palmerston North 3570606). Email firstname.lastname@example.org Website www.gardenews.co.nz