Winter Gardening Ahead

June in the Organic Food Garden

By Kath Irvine
excerpt taken from “Organic Garden Calendar” by Kath Irvine

Be careful as you tread around your wet Winter soils. If your beds are too wide and you need to stand on them, put down boards or stepping stones.

Compacting your soil squashes all the air out of it (air is essential to the well being of your soil life). Those of you on sand have all the air you can shake a stick at, but those of you on a clay base work so hard for air, don’t stand on it and blow it!

Make sure your garden beds are only about 1 metre wide. This way you can reach the middle of the bed without having to stand on the bed.

In the Vegie Patch

Seed to sow

In punnets or trays – spinach, cress, leek

For direct sowing – rocket, mizuna, mibuna, Asian greens, mustard greens – all of these greens are very cold hardy.

I hope you have some pineapple sage growing to feed your predator friends till Spring. Its bright red flowers are a blessing through the Winter days.

Plant out

  • rhubarbs and Jerusalem artichokes can be divided and planted out
  • garlic (if you didn’t get it done in May) and onions and shallots. These all need cold weather to grow big bulbs.

Other tasks

  • clean, sharpen and oil all your tools during this down time – don’t forget your spray pack and wheelbarrow
  • keep an eye out for fungus during the Winter months. Pluck off infected leaves, keep up your seaweed sprays, and make sure your crops have enough light and airflow is good.
  • liquid feed onions and garlic
  • enjoy digging up your root vegies – your yams will be delicious about now
  • keep an eye on your stores of food for any spoilt vegies/ fruit

Mulch collection

  • Winter is a great time to stock up on mulch and manure – visit the beach after Winter storms and score seaweed for compost and liquid feed
  • Fossick around for animal manures and let them mature over Winter ready to use in Spring.
  • Collect Autumn leaves and pile them up with lime to make a yummy wormy mulch to use in Spring

In the Home Orchard

  • Prune your pipfruit.

Pruning is essential for abundant harvests and healthy trees. A well pruned tree should be at the right height to suit you. This allows you to stand on the ground to pick, prune, spray and birdnet. A well pruned tree lets light into the centre of the tree for even fruit ripening, it allows good airflow to minimize fungal problems and it’s a strong shape so that it wont snap in strong winds or under big harvests.

If pruning is confusing to you, don’t feel alone – it’s a lost art! I am running two pruning workshops in June (in Te Horo) especially for you! Its all very well to go and watch someone else prune and listen to what they say, but what you really need is to have a go at pruning yourself under the watchful eye of an experienced tutor .This reinforces the learning and gets you over the big hurdle of making the right cuts. This hands on learning is what I offer you through my workshops.  See for more information.

  • Plant deciduous fruit trees

Its so important to give your trees a strong start in life and spend the time to plant your trees well. As the saying goes, it’s better to plant a one dollar tree in a ten dollar hole than a ten dollar tree in a one dollar hole!

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