My Backyard: September Planting

Spring has arrived here in New Zealand. It is so lovely seeing the evidence around the garden. White and pink blossoms.... leaves unfurling... the soil warming up.... just lovely.


Depending on the actual climate of your particular locality, (that is, whether it is subtropical, temperate or rather cold), there will be various specific gardening suggestions made by local garden centres, experts and the like, regarding what to do in terms of feeding, sowing and planting in your particular area.

Making allowances for local conditions, as you make your gardening decisions over the next little while, is really a wise move.

Soil temperature does have a significant impact on the results hoped for in any given garden. If the weather is also still too unsettled, there is no point sowing seeds that will simply be washed away with the next downpour of heavy rain.

Enthusiasm for getting in and getting started in the garden, needs to be balanced with common sense, to have good end results. Too much haste can result in time, energy and money potentially being wasted.

So, what can be sown and planted now? How should the keen Spring gardener go about it? Here are a couple of suggestions....

Tomatoes


Signs of Spring make many a gardener want to get on to tomato seed sowing. Let's face it, a home-grown tomato is just so delectable! The taste memorable.

Should you be keen to sow tomato seed, consider doing so in seed trays and keep these indoors in a sunny spot, until the frosts have all passed.

Most people use Labour Weekend (26 - 28 October 2013) here in New Zealand as the date of reference for planting out tomatoes.

Planting out actual tomato seedlings too soon, will potentially see you witnessing all those precious little seedlings you've tenderly nurtured along being frost-bitten. Unfortunately, being exposed to major setbacks via the weather, and the soil itself still being too cold in temperature, can have unfruitful results.

Prior to actually planting tomato seedlings outdoors, allow them to adjust gradually from their initial indoor incubation by putting the seedling trays occasionally outside during the warmer parts of the day, before a permanent relocation into the garden.

Keep vulnerable small seedlings away from windy areas. Allowing them to enjoy some gentle outdoor airflow and warm sun, will help them make the necessary transition from being indoors to outdoors eventually.

Staking and feeding the plants, once they are in their permanent garden position, will help them realise their full growth and harvest potential.

Beans


Beans are one of the easiest and most rewarding things to plant in a garden.

This year I am contemplating creating a tee-pee structure - both to grow some climbing beans up and around, and also to create a fun garden hideout that our children could enjoy investigating. How fun it will be to have a shady, green hide-out!

With regards to specific instructions for sowing various beans: it is best to follow guidelines on the actual seed packet. Again, some varieties will benefit best from time grown in a more incubated setting within seed trays before being planted out, rather than being sown directly in to the garden.

We currently have broad beans planted out in our garden, as we all enjoy eating these when they are still young and quite nutty in taste.

Most people who have tried broad beans and decided the taste is not for them, have had the unfortunate experience of trying broad beans that were too mature and therefore past their best.


Getting to try a young, fresh broad bean may just convert those previously put off eating this particular bean variety. Give it a second chance, if you can source some fresh, young raw broad beans, they are quite lovely.

Everyone in our household likes fresh, raw broad beans. The children actually pick them off the plants and often eat them as a out-in-the-garden snack food.

These are a great seasonal transition legume, we find, as they are flowering in what is currently only just the first week of Spring, and will therefore provide us with actual beans, whilst the later Spring varieties of beans are only just getting established.

Carrots


I try and keep up with sowing a row of carrots every so often in the garden. Again, trial and error has shown me in our garden, that the success rate can be somewhat affected also by soil temperature, depending on the variety which I have chosen to sow.

Currently we have several rows sown and some rows are already providing harvest-able carrots for the table.

Soil preparation is a must for growing your own carrots.

I often prepare quite deep beds, removing stones, etc as I find them. Anything of that nature can interfere and send a developing carrot forking off on a tangent. Although it takes time to do so, preparing and sifting through soil gives better development results.

I have found it beneficial to plant carrot crops, as well as other root crops, according to the moon calendar. It helps to rotate the resulting crops over time. It's no good having hundreds of carrots one month and none available in three months time!

So these are just three crops to look to sow and establish over the next few weeks, should you wish to do so.
 
A couple of handy tips:


It can be challenging to keep the garden watered particularly over the hot, dry summer months. To try and ensure plants get the watering they require, I plan ahead and often re-purpose plastic bottles to become water reservoirs within the garden.

It is a good idea to add the upturned bottle, and any staking, at the time of planting out the new seedling. This will help avoid any risk of damaging an established plant and it's root system later on.

In the above photograph you can see a couple of re-purposed milk bottles beside a tomato plant in the garden last year. To do this with a plastic bottle, the bottom is cut off and removed. The bottle minus it's lid has then been firmly inserted, with it's neck face down, into a pre-dug hole beside the plant.

Then as required the bottle is simply filled with water. The bottle reservoir allows the water to gradually drain into the under soil, to feed the plant's root system directly.

By using the water reservoir bottles throughout the garden, I know that individual plants are getting their specific watering needs meet. This is much better than simply having the water just falling onto their top leaves and potentially drain off anywhere.

The benefit also with using water reservoirs in the garden, is that rather than a random garden watering (which may actually be unwittingly aiding the growth of a lot of weeds also!), you are directly watering the actual plants targeted.

A recycled and re-purposed plastic bottle can now have a significant role in the scheme of things pertaining to the production of a lush and fruitful garden.

If you are not keen on the aesthetics of milk bottles or the like, you can use some other more aesthetically pleasing bottle.

Another handy tip for this post.....


Consider making garden yarn from an old T shirt fabric. This is easy to do, and enables you to make a yarn that is fairly kind, in it's surface texture, as it rests directly against developing plant stalks.

At some point I can look to post a tutorial about how to make T Shirt yarn, for those interested in knowing how to make your own. It is certainly a great way to recycle old T Shirts and the like!

The Moon Calendar:
On Saturday 7th September dig and cultivate, but don't sow or plant anything.

From Sunday 8th September - Monday 16th September, sow & plant any crops that produce their edible parts above ground. Do not prune, nor sow any root crops, during this time either.


So there you have it, some potential Spring crop suggestions, plus a handy hint or two, for this week's My Backyard Blog Post!

Enjoy the transformations that are gradually unfurling as Spring makes it's presence evident at your place. It is indeed a very lively and picturesque season!

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