A checklist for a successful October garden

Time to make the most of the slowly-warming weather.

Words: Jane Wrigglesworth

Plant rhubarb in a sunny spot in well-drained, compost-enriched soil. You can also divide an existing clump by cutting through the crown with a spade and replanting it. Leave plants for a year to establish new roots before harvesting.

Sow pak choi in well-composted soil in a sunny position. Keep plants well watered to prevent early bolting and bitter flavour. To combat whitefly, regularly blast leaves with a strong jet of water, or cover with insect-proof netting. If picking baby leaves, thin seedlings 10cm apart. For semi-mature plants, thin to 20cm, for mature plants thin to 30cm.

Get a head start on the growing season for basil and sow seeds this month in trays for transplanting later. Basil needs warmth to grow well and won’t survive cool spring nights. Raise seedlings under cover and plant out in November or December, or keep in pots in a sheltered position. Once plants are growing well in summer, take stem cuttings to increase your stock.

In warmer areas, sow beans, pumpkins, and sweet corn directly into the ground. Wait another month in cooler areas or sow in trays for planting out.

Sow seeds of capsicums, courgettes, cucumbers, chillies, eggplants and tomatoes in trays for planting out later.

Prepare your soil for sowing leek seeds. Leeks thrive in soil that has been heavily manured during the previous season. If you don’t have a manured patch ready, dig in well-aged compost two to three weeks before planting. Sow leek seeds now to get a head start on the long growing season. They’ll be ready for picking in autumn. Baby leeks can be picked when pencil-thick, around midsummer.

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NZ Life and Leisure This article first appeared in NZ Lifestyle Block Magazine.
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