Summer gardening in New Zealand
Keep an eye on soil moisture and keep picking and pruning cherry tomatoes for a continuous crop.
Words: Jane Bellerby
• Moisture retention is vital as the summer progresses so it’s good to check watering systems before the holiday season, especially if you are heading away from home.
• Keep tending tomatoes and picking the fruit as they ripen. The sweet little cocktail and cherry tomatoes will be ready early and regular picking and pruning of suckers means they’ll keep fruiting over many months.
• Keep applying mulch to preserve moisture, which adds to the humic content of your soil as it breaks down, providing worm fodder and suppresses weeds.
• Choose a wide variety of mulches to bring in different mineral and trace elements: grass clippings, compost, old silage, stable waste, seaweed, stabilised sawdust and bark, straw, pea and lucerne hay.
• Be aware of seedy material in meadow hay and horse manure – you may prefer to put them through a hot compost system, or use them as a base layer and put seedless mulch on top. Let’s face it, weeds will eternally be with us!
• As flowers fade snip off the dead heads to encourage more blooms, a pleasant job to do in the early morning or late evening.
• Keep potatoes, yams and kumara mounded up to encourage more production.
• Scarlet runner beans will continue to fruit if you consistently keep picking the pods, and they freeze well if there is an excess.
• If spraying chemicals, do so in the late evening when the air is still and the beneficial bees and insects have stopped work for the day.
• Keep strawberries picked to encourage more flowers for more fruit.