Back in time for spring!

Back in Wellington and getting geared up for spring. The time of year that I like to call “first stirrings of spring” is just starting, with the first bulbs showing above soil surface and the first treebuds swelling slightly. Even though it’s still cold, when it’s sunny it’s really enjoyable and my greenhouse becomes a sauna if I don’t open the door!

My to-do list this week (29th July – 4th August):

  • Check my garden plan up until December and count my seeds to make sure I’ve got enough for what I want to grow + maybe order more (I use organic seed from King’s Seeds, Koanga Institute and Setha’s Seeds).
  • Spray my peach tree with copper spray to try and curb the curly leaf. It was really bad last year.
  • Prune redcurrants, blackcurrants and raspberries – got too busy in autumn to get around to it and now is really last moment!
  • Make-over my wormfarm… I came back to a compacted and wet worm farm. To help the wee critters multiply as the days get warmer, I’m going to empty all the bottom stuff out, dry and sieve it to use for potting mix later ; then I’ll add new and dryer material  –  mainly half-decomposed leaf litter  –  and mix it all with a good amount of calcium (agricultural lime). I’ll also check that it drains properly and cover it to stop the rain from getting in. It’s so much easier to add extra water from a barrel than to deal with a soggy wormfarm!
  • Make my seed raising mix: sieved garden soil, sieved mature compost and old seed raising mix in a 1:1:1 ratio. You can also buy Dalton’s Organic at Commonsense Organics, it works well.
  • Sow the first seeds! This year, I’m only growing a few tomato plants outdoors, so I’ll hold off with those heat-lovers (but indoors tomatos, peppers and eggplants can go in trays on a radiator, they need minimum 20ºC 24/7 to germinate). I’ll start many others in trays in the greenhouse now: Beetroot, Broadbeans*, Broccoli, Cabbage, Chard*, Collards, Kale*, Kohlrabi, Leeks, Lettuce*, Mustard, Spring onions*, Onions, Peas (dwarf and tall)*, Rutabagas, Spinach, Silverbeet and Turnips. The ones with stars are ideal if you’re starting a vege garden for the first time!
  • Prepare a bed by pushing a fork into the soil and wriggling it slightly so it leaves nice holes, spread compost on top (5cm is good) and chop it in to the top 5-10cm with a rake or a fork, then rake the surface flat. I’ll sow some seeds directly in that bed, Carrots and Radishes*, and leave some of it bare to add seedlings once they’re big enough.
  • …ideally, I’d sow many of these seeds 2 days before new moon which would be Sunday afternoon, but I think I’ll start today. Spring makes me impatient!

Prepare for next week:

  • Start looking for more compost materials, take a walk on the southern beaches to check if there are good banks of washed-up seaweed (avoiding the Reserve of course!)
  • Check the compost when sieving it for seed mix to see it’s mature enough to be put on the beds
  • Go over my vege & flower beds using the Niwashi to cut “weeds” that are going to seed, if any – these can be put in a pile to go into a good big compost pile next week.
  • Check that I have seeds for spring flowers: Alyssum, Aquilegia, Calendula, Corn flower, Foxglove, Hollyhock, Honesty, Petunia, Poppy, Sweet william.
  • Put up cloches to warm the sunniest bed so I can plant in it soon! I double dug it in autumn so it doesn’t need much work now.
  • If you have carbon crops that start to go dry and seedy, prepare to harvest them and use the stems in your big spring compost pile. I can’t grow anything over winter, as my garden is too shady, so I don’t have any carbon crops.
  • Prepare (or buy) liquid feed for strawberries and rhubarb.

As you can see, there’s now a lot to do in our Edible Oasis! If you’re a beginner, I suggest you stick to a few crops that you really like to eat and learn how to grow those. Start with 3-5 different veges the first year, from the ones with stars, and add another 2-4 new ones each year. This will keep it from becoming overwhelming. And a few flowers, Calendula, Borage and Alyssum are both easy and pretty.

I’ll do my best to keep up with these weekly posts over spring, and I very much welcome your comments and questions! As my focus moves from my own edible oasis and my clients’ ones to the bigger workerBe oasis urban farm, I’d love to hear what information is useful to you and how you’d like to see my blog evolving. Thanks in advance for your comments!

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