The days grow longer and the light comes back, and I long to get out in the garden. But I decided to have a look at the statistics for Wellington first and… we can have frosts up until November! The minimum air temperature mean is 6.7ºC for this month, while the mean air temp is 9.4ºC. So while the earth has already started to warm up (from a mean of 7.1ºC in July to 7.7 in August) it really is winter still, even though the spring stirs and will soon awaken…
As the seeds I sow last week are coming up, I prick them out to a much richer potting mix, 1:1 of compost to old seed raising mix or used potting mix. I do this when their cotyledons – that’s the very first two leaves, which don’t really look like the normal leaves of the plant – are open, but before the second pair of leaves, “true leaves”, are ready. If I wait longer they can be traumatised, but when they are this little, they seem to be rather stimulated by the transplant. I put them at the right spacing for the plants to grow on to 5-10 cm tall without having its roots entangled with the neighbor’s. There are special tools for all of this, but a plastic knife works just fine, the whole trick is to not damage the roots or expose them to too much air or light.
I’ll stick to cold weather crops for another two months at least and raise the tender ones indoors, or in styrofoam boxes in the greenhouse. Traditionally people plant out at, or after, Labour weekend (26/10). But even then, there’s still a risk, depending on where in Wellington you are. Keeping frost cloth handy is a good idea I think, and check the forecasts!
My to-do list this week (19-25 August):
New Moon until Saturday
- Sow the seeds I didn’t get time for last week
- Continue to care for the germinating seeds, check moisture and temperature daily
- Possibly water seeds that are sown directly in the garden, as we do get rain on tonight (Tuesday) and maybe a little again on Thursday, but then no rain at all Friday to Monday – check the soil moisture
- Collect compost material
- Order seeds to cover until December at least
- Put up cloches to warm the sunniest bed so I can plant in it soon
- Make liquid seaweed if you collected some last week – I didn’t get the time for it but will as soon as I can
First quarter from Sunday
- Prick out seedlings – see instruction above.
- Copper spray peach tree (same if you’ve got curly leaf on apricot, plum or cherry), I use BioGro-certified Copper Oxy from KiwiCare. If you have any tips about managing curly leaf, please comment below!
- Kill slugs and snails – I patrol in the evening or morning depending on when I feel like a killing spree! If you’ve got chooks, put the little slimies in a bucket and feed them to your ladies.
- Liquid feed onions, garlic, broad beans, strawberries, rhubarb, onions, garlic, broadbeans… at least. Everything that’s actually growing now needs a booster!
- Spread compost on the beds I’ll plant next.
- Prepare the composting area.
- Cut down my physalis / cape gooseberry, pick off any fruit and use the stems and leaves in the new compost pile.
- Build a bio-intensive compost pile, or at least be prepared to make one next week.
The food forest workshop 6th September will be both hands-on and theory packed. I hope I’ll see you there! Register by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Would you like to see another 90 minute workshop soon? I’ve got them all ready to go, but am busy with other projects (more about that next week!) so I just haven’t planned one yet. What times are good for you, in general? which ones are you most interested in? Let me know!