Taupō’s February gardening guide: Preparing for the colder season

There are plenty of ways to keep busy in the garden this month. Photo / Getty Images

There’s more harvesting to come and much to prepare in the garden this month as we get ready for the colder season.

Tidy Up
• Keep picking!
• Keep on weeding and deadheading flowers.
• Look around your garden and trim off tired-looking leaves on your veggies and herbs.

Flower Garden
Mixing annual and perennial flowers in your garden helps invite beneficial insects.

It’s a great time to plant canterbury bells, antirrhinums (commonly known as snapdragons or dragon flowers) and pansies. Awapuni Nurseries has more than 20 varieties of beautiful pansies.

Vege and Herb Garden
There is still a lot of harvesting to do. Keep on picking to encourage more fruiting.

Chillies and cucumbers are pumping. Spend time trimming off leaves that are looking a bit dry and tired.

Consider staggering your planting – plant something new every few weeks starting now to prepare for the colder months.

It’s a great time to plant:
• Herbs – coriander, dill, basil and parsley.
• Veges – brassicas (broccoli, cauliflower), carrots, celery, spring onions, kale

Grow more, save more in winter: Quick tips for continuous crop

Vegetable gardening is a continuous process. Soil can get exhausted and could develop a build-up of disease-causing pathogens. It’s important to have a system for growing veges and group plants (veges and flowers) based on their characteristics.

Here are some tips for the coming winter growing season:
1. To ensure a continuous supply of vegetables, gardeners need to switch from warm-weather plants to cool-weather crops. If you have multiple garden beds, an effective tip is to divide crops into respective planting areas. Plan beds in anticipation of the change in crops. Some gardeners have four beds (one for each vege family).

Here are some examples of veges grouped according to their vegetable families:
• Alliaceae (Chives, onions)
• Cruciferae (Brassicas)
• Cucurbitaceae (Cucumber, pumpkin, squash)
• Legumes (peas, beans)

Cooler season veges are brassicas (broccoli, cauliflower, broccolinis, spinach, endive, radicchio). Warmer season veges are beans, eggplants, tomatoes. All season options are lettuces, carrots, onions, herbs.

If you have a smaller space, consider the following ideas for crop rotation: Instead of making one large, raised garden bed, consider having 3-4 smaller ones or consider using larger pots for plants that are more prone to diseases.

2. Crop rotation is useful to avoid or minimize the risk of diseases and pests.

When plants get diseases, the disease-causing elements (bacterial, fungal, viral diseases, etc.) stay in the soil for a while where the infected plants used to be.

If your area isn’t big enough for rotation planting, don’t plant anything in the garden for a year or two so disease-causing soil elements have nothing to feed on. Consider planting in containers temporarily to ensure vege supply.

3. Note that weeds also bring diseases, so it’s important to keep the garden beds free of weeds.

4. Crop rotation helps manage soil fertility which gives plants more nutrients.

Peanuts are great for fixing nitrogen into the soil which improves soil fertility. They are usually followed by brassicas which are nitrogen-hungry.

Peas are good to plant before squash. Beans enrich the soil and are a good crop to plant after tomatoes.

When the same veges are planted in the same spot year after year, the soil may no longer have the nutrients required by the plants.

5. As much as possible, always use a good quality garden / potting mix.

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