October in the Vegie Patch

20 October 2014
Written by Kath Irvine
Print Email

Sharing her knowledge and gifting her avid followers with a wealth of gardening know-how, Kath Irvine has had a busy month both in and out of the veg garden 

Greetings Edible Backyarder, October's turning into a busy old month!

  • NZ Gardener invited me to do my very favourite thing - chin wag about edible gardening at Palmers garden centre Palmerston North and Mirimar. We talked about getting the garden ready for summer crops, recycling weeds, easy ways to keep your soil healthy and whatever else inspires us about the edible garden in spring.
  • Farmlands Levin had a Spring Gardening Expo; 21 October; 6.30 - 8.30; at the Levin Senior Citizens hall (cnr Montgomery and Cambridge Streets, Levin), where suppliers (including me!) demonstrated their products and taught some tricks of the trade.
  • The Abundant Vegie Patch workshop is at my place on 25th October; 10am - 3pm. Jam packed with all the knowledge you need to grow a flourishing vegie garden. Compost making, liquid feeding, seedling raising, crop rotation and more!

There's alot happening in the garden too! Don't feel you have to rush head long into summer crops. By taking the time to prepare your beds properly you'll get a far better crop. Early plantings will catch the unsettled weather and require more care, so slow down! don't hurry! trust the process!

Yours in the earth,

October in the Vegie Patch

Following on from our successional planting chat last month, this photo shows successional planting jazzed up with a bit of interplanting. Instead of waiting for the bed to be empty before planting out the new crop, I've planted the new crop out among the old one. This photo is taken in the greenhouse. The
dwarf beans were direct sown between the rows of lettuces just as they came into harvest. The soil nice and rich pre lettuces is now just right for beans (nothing needs adding). The salads will well and truly be gone by time the beans are bushing out.

As long as you keep your soil in great knick you can keep your crops rolling over like this. It means less gaps in your cropping, and really makes the most of your productive space.

At this time of year it can be extra temperamental (over and above the usual New Zealand temperamental-ness) All those young seedlings need protection or production will be compromised. Heres two ways:

  1. Cloches are quick and easy to put up. Pay special attention to securing the covers or they'll blow here there and everywhere in the spring howlers. Twist the plastic at the end of the cloche and bury in the garden. Put a rock on top for extra strength.
  2. Tall, old crops make for fab shelter. They're already in and probably feeding the bees, so leave them be and plant around. And when they're no longer needed (either the weather has settled or the new crops are big enough), don't worry about disturbing the new seedlings as you wont be ripping the old crops out by the roots, will you now (can you feel my penetrating gaze?!). Of course you wont, you'll be cutting them off  ground level leaving all those microbes, fungi and bacteria undisturbed to carry on doing what they do best - nurturing your crops.

Our warm, dry winter (so dry that my garden dried out and a few crops suffered), is followed by a cold, rainy spring start. No surprises huh. Its bound to be hot then freezing then wet several times between. A philosophical approach must prevail (and generally gardeners are beautifully philosophical), because there is no controlling the weather. The only 'control' you have is to grow as broad a range of crops as your garden can fit. Every  crop has its own weather preference, so spread the load and hit the bulls eye with a few. When you have some successes, the losses aren't felt so bitterly (unless your marriage depends on it; in the case of my stunted-from-dying-of-thirst broadbeans.)

A great distraction from the broadbean flop is the arrival of the first asparagus, a real boon of a crop. Boon means something you are deeply grateful for, and whilst not grammatically correct conveys my heartfelt message. Fresh picked asparagus is simply the best, and is on my list of top ten crops to grow. Don't go getting all excited and rush to get your asparagus in. You'll only achieve high production and long life from this wonderful perennial with a well prepared area. If you're not ready, then don't. Autumn is the time to be getting ready, and I'll be sure to blog about it then for you.

  • Are your zuchinni, cucumber, pumpkin, corn, tomato and pepper beds ready to grow?!
  • Are your stakes ready and do you know what you're using for climbing frames?
  • Make a compost pile
  • Direct sow another lot of dwarf beans (under cover), radish, carrot, beetroot, saladings and companion flowers.
  • Plant potatoes.
  • Direct sow cucumber, pumpkin and zuchinni (under cover). I wait till November and direct sow my zuchinni outside.
  • Tray sow tomatoes and basil for outside plantings (I plant my tomatoes outside in December.)
  • Plant out red onions, celery, silverbeet, perpetual beet, parsley, chives, thyme, oregano, sage, rosemary, lavendar and any other herbs you need.
  • Protect echinacea from slugs (and all other new shoots and seedlings)
  • Prick on seedlings as soon as they have 4 leaves.
  • Liquid feed everything, including your fruit trees.
  • Plant citrus. Wait till November if the ground/ air at your place is still cold.
  • Plant comfrey cuttings beneath your fruit trees

How to Feed and Mulch your Fruit Trees

The fruit trees are at their sweetest at this time of year - the promise of a harvest in the bees supping on the pretty blossoms. Are the bees in your fruit trees?

The early plums are setting fruit already, the later ones still blossoming; and here come the pips - the buds are on the move! If your pears had blister mite and you need to spray an oil now is the time (I use Tui Eco Oil.)

If you haven't fed your fruit trees yet then best you do tout de suite. A layer of compost plus something mineral like seaweed or roksolid, topped off with a beneficient layer of mulch. Be generous here, get out to the drip line if you can. Moisture retention is super important to swelling fruits.

Monthly foliar seaweed or fish sprays from now on in, are a huge benefit. Strong cells and active soils mean robust plants better equipped to cope with any conditions. Will it be dry? Will it be wet? Hot? Cold? Windy? these things we just don't know and can do nothing about. Will we be strong - this we can do, this we can count on.

Don't feel you need to splash out and buy over priced pea straw - make your own lovely brew from soft prunings. Trees need a more woody mulch than vegies - so trim back your lavendars, tree lucerne, rosemary; gather up pine needles and add any leaf mould or rotten hay you've so carefully gathered this winter. Mix it altogether and hey hey - beautiful mulch.

Sit back and relax if your trees are underplanted with lashings of comfrey. Very smart you are (self mulching trees means less work for you). Although new comfrey cuttings and young trees will require mulch until well established.



Add comment

Security code

  • July in the Vegie Patch
    20 July, 2014
    Kath tackles the 'to prune or not to prune' question head on; advises on making good use of your July weeds and sets some mid-winter inspired garden m...
  • June in the Vegie Patch
    19 June, 2014
    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 chill...
  • May in the Vegie Patch
    20 May, 2014
    Enjoying the rewards of her toil during the summer months, Kath, forever with an eye on the seasons, discusses how to shelter your land from the winte...
  • April in the Vegie Patch
    20 April, 2014
    Are you scratching your head wondering what to plant in your Autumn vegie garden?  Well you're in luck as Kath lists 10 essential plants for a happy g...
  • March in the Vegie Garden
    20 March, 2014
    As the cooler temps slow down the growing rate of the vege garden, Kath reminds us what to do and plant in March to ensure yours is a plentiful winter...
  • November in the Vegie Patch
    20 November, 2013
    With only a few short weeks to go before summer is upon us, Kath Irvine guides us through the final preparations to ensure our summer crops are plenti...
  • October in the Vegie Patch
    19 October, 2013
    With the warm weather almost here,  Kath reminds us that October is get-ready-for-summer-abundance month, providing us with pointers to ensure a bount...
  • September in the Vegie Patch
    19 September, 2013
    This month in Kath Irvine's fabulous garden she welcomes spring, encouraging us to roll our gardens beds over and plant and sow like our lives depend ...
  • August in the vegie patch
    20 August, 2013
    Anticipating a spring in her step, Kath Irvine takes time to prepare, plan and look forward to the warmer months and all that means for the fresh-food...
  • Sleep in, light a fire, make a pudding!
    20 June, 2013
    Embracing winter, Kath Irvine shares some timely advice on creating good flow within the garden, plus preparing and planting your onion and garlic bed...
  • Prepare your soil
    15 April, 2013
    Kath Irvine likens the gardening journey so far to that of an elite sporting event where crossing the finish line is the reward for you & your garden ...
  • Autumn in the Vege Patch
    20 March, 2013
    It’s been a long hot summer but the first full days of autumn are here and as Kath Irvine points out that means preparing the garden for winter crops

  • Creating robust systems
    20 February, 2013
    Kath Irvine introduces 'robust gardening' as a smarter way of doing things - the more robust our gardens the better our crops, plants and animals cope
  • Green crops are fab
    20 January, 2013
    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 supp...
  • The Colours of Summer
    20 December, 2012

    Welcome to the start of summer. Of course whether it actually is or not will remain to be seen, but it’s looking likely. This spring has been very rel...

MyMag this month...

...your magazine for inspiring stories, beautiful spaces, networking, sharing & celebrating community...

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

New Zealand


MyMag is your Mag! Subscribe today - it's FREE.  
Subscribe and receive our monthly newsletter keeping you up to date with the latest edition.