Prepare the garden for the incoming cold this April

There’s plenty to do in the height of autumn.

Words: Shai Brod and Merve Yeşilkır

Collect materials for a hot compost from the first round of summer crops that are coming to an end. Local farmers will already have their fresh hay all baled up and last year’s hay or silage will potentially be on offer. Otherwise, get some straw for the high carbon content for your compost.

Plant flowering bulbs as ground cover in the orchard, along with anemones and ranunculi for winter flowering. Plant perennial onions and garlic now to reduce the risk of garlic rust.

Prune peach, plum, apricot and citrus trees on a dry warm week. It’s important to prune these trees while sap is running for better healing of wounds.

Direct-sow your winter carrots, radishes, turnips and herbs such as coriander, parsley and rocket. Transplant beetroot, celery, lettuce, leek, and brassicas under netting.

Continue sowing winter crops and plan for your favourite winter soups and roast vegetable dishes. Start your beetroot, leek, lettuce, and bok choy, cabbage and other brassicas in the green house and keep doors well secured against white cabbage butterflies, which are still around.

Start collecting and saving seeds this month from beans, tomatoes, any remaining cucumbers, lettuces and summer flowers.

Make space for winter crops by removing spent plants, cutting them at the base. Leaving the roots in the ground will strengthen the soil and preserve precious highways for microbial life. Stake all the tall plants to open up spaces. Allow your favourite plants to set seed.

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Give your winter gardens a layer of compost or some liquid feed for extra microbial support. However, most root crops such as carrots and radishes don’t need additional nitrogen. Refrain from heavily fertilising beds containing these crops or you’ll end up with huge healthy looking leaves but small roots.

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

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