by Wally Richards

TIME TO PLANT FOR WINTER

December, January, February are the best months for planting vegetables and flowers for winter food and colour.

The reason is you need to catch the longer daylight hours to obtain reasonable growth.

The daylight hours are progressively diminishing, but during these months there is ample time to get plants to a mature state before winter sets in.

Once it chills down vegetables which are mature or near mature, will hold nicely in the garden for you to harvest as you require.

There is a problem from my experience is that seedling nurseries dont produce winter type vegetable plants and flowers until we are just about into winter. By then by then you have lost the growth of the longer day light hours.

Chances are that they will sit and sulk during winter then bolt in the spring to flower.

Many gardeners prefer to buy seedling in punnets or cell packs to plant which is very expensive even if you are getting a head start in comparison to growing from seed.

That is only an advantage at the start as seed sown vegetables, sown at the same time as transplanted seedlings from seedling packs, will out grow the transplants and give you a superior plant.

The key is not to sow seeds in containers to transplant but to direct sow where they are going to grow and mature.

Nature is by far the best plant grower from seed that I know of; just look at the crops of weeds that Nature has germinated in your gardens.

I am going to show you now the very best way to direct sow and grow seed in open ground or in raised gardens.

Select a sunny area of either of the above and remove all weeds that are currently growing there.

Rake the soil over to obtain a nice level area of friable soil.

Over this you sprinkle blood & bone, sheep manure pellets and Ocean Solids.

Alternative or as well as you can use any animal manures you have available.

Lightly rake the above to mix with soil or growing medium.

Then place about 4 layers of newspaper or one layer of thin cardboard to suppress any weed seeds that are likely to germinate. Wet down the paper or cardboard.

Next spread a layer of good purchased compost and I recommend Daltons Compost as its not just a bag of rubbishy bark with some lime and fertiliser thrown in.

(Some contains green waste that has herbicides in it as well which is no great help in establishing your plants.)

You are now ready to sow seeds of crops suitable for this time of year sowing

You need to do a bit of research on the Internet for mail order seeds from Egmont Seeds or Kings Seeds

Look at all the types available in say cabbages to see which ones are for winter growing/harvesting.

Buy the ones that suit you and the season best.

Open pollinate seeds are preferred ones to buy and g row as they will mature at different times rather than all at once. You can also note the recommended plant spacing distances on the ones you are buying.

Normally there are a lot of seeds in the packet and you are only going to sow a few of them at one time.

The packets with spare seed in them can be placed in a glass jar with a lid and placed in your fridge to keep well for future plantings.

Say the spacing is 30cm apart then you are going to put 2 seeds 15cm apart on top of your purchased compost and then spray them with Magic Botanic Liquid (MBL) before lightly covering them with the compost.

Leave for a day and then lightly water the area. Repeat lightly watering each day or if drying out quickly twice a day.

After a few days or a week or more you should have a strike with lots of the sown seeds sprouting.

Allow them to grow about 5 cm tall and spray them weekly with MBL.

Once they are at about 5 to 8cm tall you are going to cull out the crop.

Where two seeds have both germinated together select the stronger looking one and with a pair of scissors cut the weaker one off at ground level.

Allow all the other seedlings to grow and water to keep soil moist. As we are at say 15cm apart and not the preferred 30 cm we wait till the foliage of all are starting to touch each other

then we harvest the young plants to leave growing plants 30 cm apart (or what ever is the ideal spacing according to the seed packet info.)

The harvested young plants can be eaten/cooked in any suitable way.

If you have ample room and you want to plant for succession then repeat sowing as above in a months time and even a late sowing a month later in March.

That is it till the spring.

I can foresee that purchased vegetables are going to become very expensive over the next year or more for several reasons.

Imported chemical fertilisers that the commercial growers use are in short supply and much dearer than they used to be.

There are already and will be more crop failures from flooding or droughts and growth is slower because of the lack of direct sunlight from overcast and cloudy days.

If you have heard about the proposed ‘Dimming of the Planet’ to offset global warming by creating hazy skies and then if you are aware it; this has nothing to do with global warming but everything to do with slowing food crops growth so you have to eat Bill Gates’ lab-grown food or starve.

There is a lot of truth in the saying ‘Control the food and money and you control the people’

I learnt of a recent problem in the Philippines were a kilogram of onions is now the equivalent price of $20 NZD. Reason I believe is the flooding in northern parts of Philippines where the weather is a bit more like ours and a lot of food crops are grown there.

One Filipino friend going back for a holiday said she is not taking chocolates as normal but a suitcase of onions.

Taking about Philippines and their foodstuffs we have a Philippine/Asian food distribution centre here in Marton which you can order non frozen food stuffs on line and have them sent to your home with your gardening requirements.

Have a browse at http://www.0800466464.co.nz/74-philippine-products

You are likely to be surprised at how better value many items are compared to Supermarket brands of similar products. Spaghetti sauces for instance are very popular with Europeans and about half the price of NZ brands.

Also save money in your gardens by seed sowing vegetables as I have described above.

Those people that took my advise in earlier articles about having a few chickens on their property will now be enjoying the fresh eggs daily and not paying about $10.00 a dozen at the supermarket.

Its just a sign of things to come I think.

Problems ring me at 0800 466464
Email wallyjr@gardenews.co.nz
Web site www.gardenews.co.nz