by Hannah Zwartz, Green Gardener
One great thing about gardening is how you always get a second (even a third or fourth) chance. What other pastime is there where your mistakes can be ripped out, piled up in a heap, and recycled into rich compost, food for your next attempts?
If your garden is looking a little seedy, beat the late summer blues with a big clean out. Empty the beds of non-performers and pile up spent calendula, parsley, lettuces etc. on the compost heap,with as much extra manure and seaweed as possible. (If your own compost needs some troubleshooting, watch for an upcoming composting workshop at Matai Rd community garden) Watered and covered now, compost should be ready for next Spring’s plantings. The clean up also makes room in the beds for winter crops like silver beet, cabbages, kale and broccoli.
Brassicas: (the cabbage family) need to be planted by March if you want to be eating them over winter. If you put them in when the weather has already cooled, they’ll sit there all winter without actually growing. Kale is the easiest crop for beginners and has the advantage of being pickable leaf by leaf, so a few plants can keep you in greens all winter. Cauliflower and broccoli demand high nutrition, so pat yourself on the back if you are growing these to a large size.
Brassica seedlings will need protection from Cabbage White butterflies, whose caterpillars can shred plants within days. A physical barrier like insect netting (or old net curtains) is good, otherwise spray with bT (there are several brands now available). This parasite kills the caterpillars without harming other insects.
Death and decay have an up-side: these plastic bins help to keep compost damp. Open heaps need to be covered (eg with a tarp) to retain moisture.
Top Tasks for March:
Plant: Brassicas, silver beet, lettuce and other salad greens, red onions, leeks, fennel.
Sow: Carrots, beetroot, coriander, rocket, calendula, peas, green crops (direct); alyssum, lettuce, spinach, silver beet, peas, onions (in trays). Also last chance before winter to sow kale, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower (in trays, protected from white butterflies.)
The Council Green Gardener, Hannah Zwartz, offers sustainable and waterwise gardening advice to local residents, community groups and schools.
Community Visits and workshops are free. Get together five friends or neighbours and invite the Green Gardener round.
Contact Hannah through the Council Service Desk 296 4700 or at firstname.lastname@example.org