The current situation highlights how beneficial it can be for us to grow at least some of our own food. Growing vegetables is not difficult but it does require some forward planning, patience, careful observation and stickability. Sowing seeds or planting seedlings are just the first steps of a commitment to care for our crops through to harvest. April is a great month to continue planting winter vegetables. Soil and air temperatures are still high enough to aid the rapid germination of seeds and establishment of transplanted seedlings. Our big problem this year is the severely depleted soil moisture levels around the Western Bay of Plenty. The top few centimeters may be moist but most sub-soils will still be bone dry so thorough soaking before planting is essential.
What a great time to start growing food. I think that our very own, local, Kings Seeds are still open for online business and their website provides heaps of useful information along with an amazing range of vegetable and herb seeds;
SEEDS TO SOW
Sow a few broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale and red cabbage every three or four weeks to give continuity of supply. I always start them in containers but they can be sown directly into a garden seedbed for transplanting later. Whichever method is used the seedlings must be protected from the voracious caterpillars of the Cabbage White butterfly. Because I don’t use chemical sprays on my food crops I prefer a simple frame to support a cover of Quarantine Cloth. This has the added advantage of providing light shade for the tender seedlings.
Spring onions, lettuce, silver beet and perpetual spinach can now be sown directly into the garden or, as I prefer, into containers to produce seedlings for transplanting later.
Carrots sown early in the month should germinate before temperatures start to fall and will be ready for picking in late winter/early spring.
Rocket, radish, beetroot and parsnips (always use fresh parsnip seed for best results) can be sown directly into the garden. Covering seeds with a layer of seed-raising potting mix helps to prevent soil from forming a hard crust that can hinder germination.
Peas, snow peas and sugar snap peas can all be sown directly into the garden but be sure to provide support for tall climbing varieties.
VEGETABLES TO PLANT
April provides a window of opportunity to plant winter vegetables before the weather deteriorates, temperatures fall and the days grow shorter. Seedlings of all the varieties listed in ‘Seeds to Sow’ can be planted now.
Coriander prefers cool conditions so this is a good time to sow or plant.
Contributed by Chris Green, SuperGrans WBOP Volunteer
Want to know more?
SuperGrans WBOP holds fortnightly Growing Food with SuperGrans sessions and these will resume “when things return to normal.”
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