June in the Vegie Patch

20 June 2014
Written by Kath Irvine | Images by Kath Irvine
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Never one to let the icy frost settle on her garden tools, Kath Irvine sets a list of June jobs to give your vegie patch a wee boost during this chilly month

Ahh – winter at last! I love having a cold nose and a warm body, but alas I feel alone in my love of this special season. Are there any other lovers of winter out there?

On a cloudy, showery day last week I stood at the lights waiting to cross. The people waiting with me were frowning and grumbling – they were mad; and it seems listening in, it was all because of the weather. Good grief I wondered, does this mean four months of sorrow for Levin?

And looking around you know I wasn’t surprised these folks were upset – I could clearly see the problem, and a practical solution is at hand. Something easy, that when addressed will have you all content on cold, showery days. You’ve forgotten how to dress properly, that’s all it is. As long as one’s body is lovely and warm – what’s to be mad about?

Merino undergarments are the secret and good socks too. A jersey or jacket that cuts the wind and makes the rain slide off. Most importantly get your mum to knit you a beanie, NZ wool to keep you cosy and dry. You may as well not wear a hat if you’re going to put on a flimsy acrylic thing. When I grew up we learnt these things, and a good lid really does keep all the heat in. If a woolly hat and redbands aren’t your scene, then there is a whole industry of high-fashion outdoor wear just for you. Yes, these days you can be warm and look groovy at the same time.

Now go on, channel your inner farmer, get your gears on and head outside. A daily burst of movin’ about in some crisp wintery air is delicious. And I expect to see you properly dressed next time I’m at the crossing! (Perhaps even smiling.)

Wishing you happy winter days.
Yours in the earth,

June in the Vegie Patch

There’s a new guild of plants in my vegie patch – I’m calling them the survivors. These are the crops that made it through the big storm. Root crops – hidden underground were fine; parsley, rocket, cress, perennial leeks and kale all handled it and are heads up again for harvesting. Insure yourself against climatic catastrophe by growing a large variety of crops and always have one or two from the survivor guild!

All my lettuces were shredded in the storm, but I can still pull together a nourishing pile of greens for the table. Chickweed abounds at this time of year is tasty and super nutritious, cleavers (a bit sticky but we’ll take it), parsley, kale, coriander, cress, rocket, pea shoots, calendula, mustard, NZ spinach and the odd actual lettuce leaf as they start to re group. Miners lettuce and corn salad soon to grace the table. You can't buy a salad this good.

  • Keep up with your harvesting
  • Check on your shelters and make sure they haven’t blown off or over
  • Pinch out the tops of your broadbeans once they reach a metre
  • Plant your garlic, shallots and onions
  • Clean up your asparagus bed. Chop the tops down, weed it, feed it (rok solid, rotten poo or seaweed) and mulch it (use the chopped up tops for this)
  • Protect your young saladings from the cold. Use whatever you have eg: tin cans with top and bottom removed, plastic bottles top and bottom removed, cloches, recycle your broken buckets into shelters, straw bales on the south side (this being my favourite shelter because come spring the straw will be nicely rotten and recycled into mulch).

All these things cut the wind, stop the frost and warm the air and soil, giving our plants a wee boost along in this coldest of times. Not an expensive or difficult exercise you must agree, but worth its weight in gold.

A common question last summer was just this – where have the ladybirds gone? Well I’m afraid to say they’re at my place. I have no shortage. At the moment ladybirds are clustering as they prepare to hibernate through winter – I’m finding them in the oddest places (plastic insulators on the electric fence!) but especially in untreated wood which we have all over the place here. Our firewood pile, all over the beams on our deck, in the cladding, in the large prunings that I leave to rot under our natives – and it makes me wonder why you don’t have them too? Are you too tidy perhaps?

  • My pruning workshop is coming up on June 21 for those of you who need a shot of confidence in order to make those cuts. Click here for more information.

In the Orchard  |  In the Kitchen


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