Eight jobs to help your garden thrive during August

Getting through the end of winter means prepping for spring starts now.

Words: Jane Wrigglesworth

1. In warmer regions sow beetroot, carrots, parsnips, peas and radish directly into the soil. In colder climates sow cabbage, celery, leeks, lettuce, onions, parsnips, silverbeet, spinach and spring onions in trays for planting out later.

2. Start nourishing vege garden soil by removing weeds and mixing in a layer of compost. Avoid walking on wet soil or excessively tilling to reduce compaction and damage to soil structure. Good soil needs a lot of air to allow nutrients and water to move through it, and for healthy root growth. If you need to get in the garden, lay down a couple of planks to use as standing platforms while you work. The planks will distribute your weight over a wider area, reducing compaction.

3. Beware of “damping off” of seedlings. This is a fungal disease which causes emerging seedlings to collapse under a fuzz of white growth. It’s often seen when sowing seeds indoors or under glass. Always use a sterile seed-raising mix to reduce the risk of damping off. Clean greenhouses to help sunlight filter through, and ensure soil is moist but not soggy.

4. Plant lettuce, silverbeet and spinach outside in warmer regions. In cooler regions, plant in tunnel houses or under cloches.

5. Plant strawberries. Mix a 10cm layer of compost into the soil before planting and ensure the strawberries are in full sun and in free-draining soil. Plant with plenty of space – 45 to 60 cm. Add a clean layer of pea straw mulch around the plants to protect them from pests and apply a liquid tomato fertiliser.

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6. Rhubarb cuttings taken in winter will root in spring. Lift established plants. Use a spade to chop off a large chunk of the crown, ensuring there is at least one healthy- looking, fat bud. Replant.

7. Start sowing warm-season vegetables such as tomatoes, capsicums and chillies indoors in pots for transplanting in October.

8. Plant out well-sprouted early potatoes in warmer regions. Use a tunnel house in cooler regions.

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

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