Green crops are fab

20 January 2013
Written by Kath Irvine | Images by Kath Irvine
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Our gardening guru Kath Irvine celebrates Jan and the New Year by preparing for the colder months ahead and organising her autumn and winter food supply

In the Vege Patch

Get your garlic up before all the leaves dry off. A lot of gardening books say to let the tops dry off completely, but this will shorten your garlic’s storage life. Each leaf is a layer of skin around the bulb – a protective wrapper. You want at least three undamaged wrappers around the bulb for good storage. Allow for at least two to get rubbed off/ damaged through the cleaning process. So if you have at least five green leaves when you harvest you should be sweet.

As soon as you empty the garlic bed sow a green crop to restore the soil. Garlic has been occupying that space for six months and the soil will be a bit tired now. An empty bed quickly loses its mojo - especially in this heat.

Green crops are fab. They are cheap, quick and do an incredible job of revitalising, restoring and balancing soil.

I’ve just sown my last zucchini and cucumber in where my broadbeans were. What a pleasure to work in that beautiful chocolatey, wormy soil – legumes make magic with soil, but they aren’t the only green crop. There are many different ones, and they all have a different purpose. Pay

attention to the family your green crop belongs to to ensure you are rotating them around.

It’s time to:

  • Plant out your last lot of dwarf beans, cucumber and zucchini (for autumn eating).
  • Sow summer salads (take care to choose heat lovers like tree lettuce, merveille de quarter saison, drunken woman, oak leaf etc); sow carrots (if you are prone to whitefly, sow under a cloche with netting over it); beetroot (don’t let it dry out now, or you’ll pay with woody roots); radish; and summer green crops in any gaps made by harvesting.
  • Plan your brassicas for the coming year. Yes, it’s always strange that as your summer vege are just beginning to fruit you need to start sowing your winter supplies! Start preparing your beds now as spring crops finish (no rest for the wicked).

My greenhouse tomatoes have powdery mildew. The high humidity combined with my overly close plantings have proven a killer combination. To be sure I should know better, and indeed I do, but the temptation to jam all those gorgeous seedlings into my handsome soil was too great and now I must pay! (False economy I believe my grandma would say.) Fewer plants would’ve meant greater airflow and more soil nutrition to go around. Ergo better health and a bigger harvest. Not to mention no mucking around with managing disease.

The mildew probably won’t kill my plants, but it will impact on the harvest – already there are fewer flowers than I would expect and I’d say the fruits will be smaller – even possibly less tasty.

Anyhoo, here I am … so what to do. Airflow is the first port of call – that means greenhouse doors open and keeping up with my pruning, especially of the infected leaves (and onto the bonfire they go).

Stay away from the fertiliser – those fungal spores adore those nitrogen-fed, sappy growths; be consistent with keeping a barely moist soil; and maintain your mulch.

After that there are three routes you could choose depending on what’s already in your cupboard.

  1. Weekly milk sprays are a most excellent way to manage powdery mildew (on everything from zucchinis to roses). Dilute the milk one part to nine and thoroughly coat the plant (undersides of leaves, stems – all!). As with all sprays do not spray in the heat of the day.
  2. Baking soda is another little cracker for fungal problems. For it to work as a spray it needs a few other ingredients from the larder to aid its cause. Oil to help the spray adhere when its dry, and detergent to help it spread. Take 2 litres of water, add a drop of oil, a drop of detergent and 4 tsp of
    baking soda. Spray before or after the heat of the day, and spray weekly to keep up with new growth. There is a minor possibility of buildup in the soil with baking soda, which mucks with your calcium and magnesium uptake, and possibly iron as well. However as you are all good organic gardeners and have
    mulched under your tomatoes you won’t need to worry about this.
  3. Neem is the third spray that would work well here. Spray at the end of the day as UV breaks it down and spray every fortnight.

As with all problems encountered in the garden – be aware these solutions are the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff. Figure out the cause, so you can address it.

Luckily I have not put all my eggs in one basket and a fortnight ago I planted out my outside tomatoes  – well spaced and lookin’ good! Should the greenhouse crop come to disaster.

 

Our gardening guru Kath Irvine celebrates Jan and the New Year by preparing for the colder months ahead and organising her autumn and winter food supply

In the Vege Patch

Get your garlic up before all the leaves dry off. A lot of gardening books say to let the tops dry off completely, but this will shorten your garlic’s storage life. Each leaf is a layer of skin around the bulb – a protective wrapper. You want at least three undamaged wrappers around the bulb for good storage. Allow for at least two to get rubbed off/ damaged through the cleaning process. So if you have at least five green leaves when you harvest you should be sweet.

As soon as you empty the garlic bed sow a green crop to restore the soil. Garlic has been occupying that space for six months and the soil will be a bit tired now. An empty bed quickly loses its mojo - especially in this heat.

Green crops are fab. They are cheap, quick and do an incredible job of revitalising, restoring and balancing soil.

I’ve just sown my last zucchini and cucumber in where my broadbeans were. What a pleasure to work in that beautiful chocolatey, wormy soil – legumes make magic with soil, but they aren’t the only green crop. There are many different ones, and they all have a different purpose. Pay

attention to the family your green crop belongs to to ensure you are rotating them around.

It’s time to:

  • Plant out your last lot of dwarf beans, cucumber and zucchini (for autumn eating).
  • Sow summer salads (take care to choose heat lovers like tree lettuce, merveille de quarter saison, drunken woman, oak leaf etc); sow carrots (if you are prone to whitefly, sow under a cloche with netting over it); beetroot (don’t let it dry out now, or you’ll pay with woody roots); radish; and summer green crops in any gaps made by harvesting.
  • Plan your brassicas for the coming year. Yes, it’s always strange that as your summer vege are just beginning to fruit you need to start sowing your winter supplies! Start preparing your beds now as spring crops finish (no rest for the wicked).

My greenhouse tomatoes have powdery mildew. The high humidity combined with my overly close plantings have proven a killer combination. To be sure I should know better, and indeed I do, but the temptation to jam all those gorgeous seedlings into my handsome soil was too great and now I must pay! (False economy I believe my grandma would say.) Fewer plants would’ve meant greater airflow and more soil nutrition to go around. Ergo better health and a bigger harvest. Not to mention no mucking around with managing disease.

The mildew probably won’t kill my plants, but it will impact on the harvest – already there are fewer flowers than I would expect and I’d say the fruits will be smaller – even possibly less tasty.

Anyhoo, here I am … so what to do. Airflow is the first port of call – that means greenhouse doors open and keeping up with my pruning, especially of the infected leaves (and onto the bonfire they go).

Stay away from the fertiliser – those fungal spores adore those nitrogen-fed, sappy growths; be consistent with keeping a barely moist soil; and maintain your mulch.

After that there are three routes you could choose depending on what’s already in your cupboard.

  1. Weekly milk sprays are a most excellent way to manage powdery mildew (on everything from zucchinis to roses). Dilute the milk one part to nine and thoroughly coat the plant (undersides of leaves, stems – all!). As with all sprays do not spray in the heat of the day.
  2. Baking soda is another little cracker for fungal problems. For it to work as a spray it needs a few other ingredients from the larder to aid its cause. Oil to help the spray adhere when its dry, and detergent to help it spread. Take 2 litres of water, add a drop of oil, a drop of detergent and 4 tsp of
    baking soda. Spray before or after the heat of the day, and spray weekly to keep up with new growth. There is a minor possibility of buildup in the soil with baking soda, which mucks with your calcium and magnesium uptake, and possibly iron as well. However as you are all good organic gardeners and have
    mulched under your tomatoes you won’t need to worry about this.
  3. Neem is the third spray that would work well here. Spray at the end of the day as UV breaks it down and spray every fortnight.

As with all problems encountered in the garden – be aware these solutions are the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff. Figure out the cause, so you can address it.

Luckily I have not put all my eggs in one basket and a fortnight ago I planted out my outside tomatoes  – well spaced and lookin’ good! Should the greenhouse crop come to disaster.

 

SUMMER OPEN DAY

Edible Backyard SUMMER OPEN DAY

An opportunity for you to have a guided tour of our food gardens (veges/ fruit/chooks) in a small group.

Check out the summer harvest with me, see what's worked well and what hasn’t and all the new lessons I’ve learnt this summer. We’ll have a cuppa, then Ali (our herbalist) will take you for a wander, to teach you how to gather and use the weeds and herbs of summer.

DATE: Choose either Saturday 23rd February or Sunday 24th February

TIME: 9.30 – 12.30

PRICE: $25.00

BOOKING ESSENTIAL. NO GATE SALES.
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

30 places available each day


 

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