With many summer vegetable plants coming to an end, it is time to clear out finished plants and tidy up the vegetable plot. Then is the decision of what to do next.
Now is a good time to plant winter vegetables including; cabbages, cauliflower, broccoli, brussel sprouts, kale, spinach, silverbeet, broccoflower.
Broad beans can be sown from now on. A last crop of carrots and swedes can be sown now also, but not too much later as germination will be patchy. Turnips and radishes can also be sown now. Radishes always give a quick return, they are also a good short-term crop for children to grow. Small successional sowings should be made so that the radishes may be harvested while young and crisp.
A highly recommended variety is Chef's Best Broad bean—Mr Green seed from the ican seed range. This is a broad bean that looks and tastes good. It remains green after cooking and is rich in minerals, vitamins A & C, and dietary fibre.
A crop of peas can be sown now. These grow best if sown directly into the garden. Climbing varieties will need a support to climb up. If you don't have a suitable spot making a tee-pee out of bamboo stakes with a circle of peas around will give a good harvest. Another way is to grow them in rows with stakes and string running between to offer support. The birds love the fresh growth so be prepared to cover them otherwise they eat the fresh shoots as they come through the soil.
A highly recommended variety is Chef's Best – Pea Magic from the ican seed ranges. It produces Dark green pods on vigorous high yielding plants. Good resistance to fusarium and powdery mildew means you keep on picking to the last pod produced. 'Magic' has large tendrils which ensure upright growth with minimal support. It is rich in protein, vitamins, anti-oxidants, and dietary fibre
In the Whanganui district successive crops of lettuce can be planted in sheltered locations throughout the winter for a quick maturing vegetable. There are a number of red and green frilly forms of lettuce that can be grown in pots on the patio as an attractive display of colour as well as a source of vegetables.
At the time of changing crops, the opportunity should be taken to both improve the soil structure and the fertility. Adding poultry compost, mushroom compost or sheep pellets, which can be dug in, will ensure your next crops are a success. Adding an organic fertiliser such as Ican Vegetable Food, when planting, is also highly recommended.
If not all the area designated for vegetables is needed through the winter months then putting the soil to 'rest' by growing a green crop is a good option. Green crops such as Lupin and Mustard can be sown in now. These will fill up the area and when dug in during late winter will add much nitrogen into the soil and more importantly will help improve soil structure.
I have found a number of aphids and a few caterpillars on my broccoli and other brassica last week. I treated them with bee friendly 'Yates Mavrik'. You can also use 'Yates Success' or 'Derris Dust' to prevent destruction from these little suckers and munchers.
Have a good week
Gareth Carter is General Manager of Springvale Garden Centre