A quick-and-easy guide to spring gardening this October

Add these seeds to your shopping list before heading to the garden centre.

Words: Jane Wrigglesworth

Sow Welsh, or bunching, onions. You harvest the leaves of this perennial onion. Keep bulbs in the ground and you can harvest the leaves year-round.

Sow seeds of beetroot, carrots, radishes, and silverbeet directly in the ground. In colder regions, use a cloche for beetroots and carrots to get them off to a good start.

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

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.

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.

Plant purple sprouting broccoli. Once you harvest the central head, this variety produces several smaller side shoots. Sow again in autumn and you’ll get a spring crop.

Make a rich plant food. Place comfrey leaves and weed leaves (eg, dock, plantain, dandelion etc) in a bucket of water. Stir daily for a couple of weeks, then strain. Dilute one part to five parts of water, and use to feed your vegetables.  Bonus tip: the dried wood stalks of dock make excellent kindling.

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Plant perennial ‘walking stick’ kale. The leaves of this wacky plant are eaten as you would regular kale. Its 2m-high stems can be dried and varnished and used as walking sticks. Pick kale leaves regularly before they toughen or are chomped by insects.

Sow capsicum, cucumber, chilli, eggplant, tomato, and zucchini seeds in trays for planting out later.

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