Autumn is a beautiful time of the year, especially if you are lucky enough to be surrounded with the stunning colours of autumn foliage. But if falling leaves is your personal bugbear, turn it to your advantage and make leaf compost.
Gather your fallen leaves and put them in to large plastic bags if you shred or mow them first this will hasten the rotting process. Punch a few holes in the bags for air holes, and then stack them out of the way. Bacteria and fungi will slowly break down the leaves turning them in to leaf mold which is a great free soil conditioner to add to your soil. Check the bags a few times over the season and if they have dried out then wet them down.
The cooler shorter days are a signal to plant garlic; traditionally garlic is planted on the shortest day and harvested on the longest day. But in reality the planting times can vary from May through to July with some gardeners not planting until August. Each separate clove will become a plant, so carefully break them apart in preparation for planting, don’t plant any damaged or soft cloves.Plant in full sun in a spot with good drainage, mix in to the soil some compost and blood and bone. Cloves are planted with the point facing upwards at a depth of 5cm with about 15cm between each plant and the rows 25cm apart. The larger outer cloves will give you the best plants leave the very small cloves that you will find in the centre of the whole bulb.
Onions can be panted from April through to May – they will grow in most types of soil, but do need good drainage. Prepare the bed by digging deep this is a root crop, so the subsoil needs to be broken up, add your compost at the same time. At the time of planting add a small handful of Lime. Don’t plant them too deep as this can cause the necks to thicken and ripening can be delayed – plant the fibrous root only. Onions can be planted in the same place year after year but you do need to add fertiliser to keep the soil from being exhausted.
Thin out any carrot seedlings, to reduce the crowding in the bed.
Cabbage, Cauliflowers, Brussels sprouts, Broccoli, can still be planted. They like a well-drained position and a sweet soil, add lime to the soil as you dig through some compost. White Cabbage Butterfly is the biggest pest threat to the family; dust your plants with Derris Dust. Apply in the morning when the plants are wet with dew this hold it to the plant, for more severe infestation spray withPyrethrum spray. This has a low toxicity and is safe to use around vegetables, but it is harmful to bees so use it at night when they have gone to bed. Remember to spray the undersides of the leaves where the butterfly will lay its eggs.
Keep on top of the weeds in the vegetable garden; remove them when they are small. Use a torpedo hoe, to remove them at the base, leave them on the soil to rot. This also stirs up the soil that aids in the evaporation of excess moisture by letting air in to the top layer.
Potato planting is just around the corner, you may even see some seed potatoes appearing in stores. Get the potato bed ready by digging over the soil; add plenty of compost, leave it roughly dug over until you are ready to plant. Avoid planting potatoes in the same place as last year
Broad beans can still go in the ground,
Feijoas have to the easiest fruit to grow, so easy it feels somehow wrong when you see them for sale in the supermarket.
Feijoas prefer a mild climate but will withstand frost and wind making them adaptable to most parts of New Zealand.
Better fruiting varieties are grafted trees as this improves the yield and fruit quality.
Cheaper plants are usually seed grown; they produce smaller fruit inconsistently but are ideal for windbreak and hedges.
Plant in full sun, they are not particularly fussy what the soil is like, just not to boggy. Add some compost and sheep pellets as you plant.
Some feijoas are self-fertile – Unique and Wiki Tu just to name a couple. But in general they fruit better when they are planted with another tree
Plums, apple, pears will be coming in to store around June make plans now for the varieties you want and pre order if necessary, especially on the ever popular Louisa plum – it sells out quickly .
Winter flowering annuals are now ready to go in the ground. Always work a blood and bone with compost in to the soil before planting any annuals to give them a good start. Pinch out the first flower buds this will give the plant time to establish itself before it flowers, giving you more flowers for longer.
Pruning roses in the north is not as cut and dried as the rest of the country as many varieties up here don’t go so clearly dormant as they do in colder climates. You will need to be the judge; any pruning may bring on new growth which is fine as long as you are not susceptible to frost as we were last year. Always begin pruning by removing any damaged diseased of dead branches, cut to an outward facing growth node.
New season roses will be in store around June.