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Spring Jobs 2017
Things are ramping up, spring is here!
I have been digging in green manure crops, by pulling up a 250mm strip of green manure plants at one end of the bed, knocking off the soil from the roots and placing the plants at the other end of the bed to use in the final trench. I then dig out the soil from the first strip into my wheelbarrow, which I park at the end of the bed. I then pull up another 250mm strip of plants as before, knocking off the soil and tucking them into new trench.
The green manure is then watered with several different liquid manures, according to crops that will follow – e.g. water with EM (Essential Micro-organism) liquid to speed up the process of composting, especially for low feeding crops to follow. For heavier feeding crops, like onions, I sprinkle blood and bone, or chicken manure into the trench.
The soil from the new trench is then turned over the green manure, and this process continues until the end of the bed, where the pulled out green manure plants from the first strip get placed in the final trench and covered with the soil from the wheelbarrow.
Both early and main-crop seed potatoes have been sitting upright in a wooden seed box by the window in our spare bedroom. As they are in the light, this has ensured that the new shoots from the potatoes stay short, green and sturdy, unlike the long pale ones that grow on the potatoes in store in the dark.
And this is where the keeping of a gardening diary is so valuable. If I look back to previous years I can find out the times to plant out both my early and main-crop seed potatoes. Here is the entry from my gardening diary for 2016-17:
13th September – DESCENDING MOON IN CAPRICORN – Planted 12 early potatoes (Jersey Bennies) in 3 rows at the southern end of bed 1, which had already been prepared on the 29th August. This was a good time to plant potatoes.
The main crop potatoes were planted on the 24th September:
24th September – Planted 4 rows of Agria + 3 rows Desiree in bed 1, in the bottom of trenches on top of 50mm compost, before earthing up.
If you don’t keep a gardening diary, I seriously suggest doing so – it is so useful. I keep mine on my laptop and try to remember to fill in the jobs I have just done.
It is still to early to start sowing seeds outside, so I sow seeds in 7cm deep wooden seed boxes, filled with my own seed compost mix:
- 2 buckets loam (preferably from rotted turfs)
- 1 bucket sieved leaf mould or composted bark (or ½ bucket of each)
- ½ bucket sharp sand
- 1 handful garden lime
- Seedling Innoculant Trichoderma viride (optional)
Commercial seed compost has fungicide added. Commercial Organic seed compost has Trichoderma viride spores added. Trichoderma viride is a natural soil fungus that eats the bad fungus diseases. We are lucky here in New Zealand to have a well-known company that sells ‘Organic Bio-Fungicide Granules’ (Daltons) that can be bought from some gardening centres, like Bunnings.
On the 10th August I sowed 4 rows of Pukekohe onions and they are now well up and 7cm tall. The spring cabbages (Cone-head) I sowed on 25th August are up and about to produce their first true leaves. The broccoli I sowed on the 26th are starting to come up and the tomatoes (Guernsey, Black Krim & Black from Tula), peppers (Marconi Red, Chocolate Beauty & Cayenne Chilli), eggplant (Black Beauty) and a whole range of salad crops sowed on the 2nd of September are yet to show.
So if you haven’t yet started sowing seed – get going! And all the best for this season’s growing and harvesting.
CITRUS: Citrus are very heavy feeders, so I have just given my young Navel Orange and Lemon bushes a dose of liquid blood & bone, because the leaves were looking a little yellow. I have also done the annual spring spray of a half and half mix of Neem Oil and Pyrethrum spray under the leaves to kill off leaf scale insects. These insects also drop sugary sap onto the top of the leaves below causing a black sooty mould to cover the leaves, reducing the plant’s ability to photosynthesise – so when we get a dry day, I will spray Trichoderma viride sold in New Zealand as ‘Daltons Organic Bio-Fungicide’ powder mixed with water. Trichoderma viride is a natural soil fungus that eats nasty funguses and kills sooty mould. In other countries Trichoderma viride is sold by various companies, and in the US it can be obtained in liquid form.