April In The Vegie Patch

Out with the old and in with the new – now! Today! Or you’ll run out of grow time.

Make space

Leave corn roots in the ground to stabilise soil ediblebackyard NZ
Leave corn roots in the ground to stabilise soil. Sow or plant around them.

Whip around and chop down finished crops (hello compost or mulch!) to make space for the new.

  • Chop finished corn and sunflowers off at the roots. Those generous biology covered roots are such a gift to your soil. Plant around them and they’ll slowly decompose adding organic matter. Roughly chop the stalks and pile them up on the edge of the vegie patch for a useful stash of organic matter in a years time. Or use them as a rough mulch beneath the avocados or citrus.
  • Reorganise productive cucumber or zucchini vines onto the paths or out of the way so you can use the freed up space.
  • Give all productive crops a big clean up, to not only create light + room for new seedlings, but to help the plants out. Snap off ratty, gooey, mildew-y leaves and chuck them in the compost. Because yes! you can compost them. After cleaning up leafy greens be sure to harvest regularly to keep fresh, young tender leaves coming on.


A tidied up zuchinni to make space to sow a greencrop

Direct Sow

  • Direct sow greencrops in any gaps – phacelia, lupin, mustard, daikon, broadbeans, wheat or oats.
  • Corn salad, miners lettuce, mizuna, coriander, rocket.
  • Calendula and poppy

Tray Sow

  • Globe artichokes, spring onions, red or brown onions
  • A mix of brassica – broccoli, cabbage, cauli
  • Peas into plug trays or toliet rolls

Direct or Tray Sow

  • Broadbeans
  • Spinach, coriander and beetroot can be direct sown in the greenhouse. Though they’ll handle cooler soils outside, they’ll grow faster and be sweeter in the warmth.
  • Sweetpeas


peas in plug trays ready to be popped out and planted
  • Broadbeans, peas, beetroot
  • Salad greens. If you are planting salads outside choose varieties with a preference for cool like Little Gem, Drunken Women Fringed Head or Rouge d’Hiver. Cos, buttercrunch and salad bowl types do well. All my saladings will be planted in the greenhouse from now in.
  • Endive
  • Loads of leafy greens like kale, silverbeet, perpetual beet or chard
  • Brassicas for winter eating
  • Garlic, spring onions, red onions or brown onions
  • Celery – either outside or in the greenhouse
  • Companion flowers like stock, larkspur, cornflower and primula to keep your spirits up and beneficial insects fed.


butternut harvest

Keep checking in on soon to be ready crops and wait patiently until they’re perfect for richly flavoured crops that store well. Its a balancing act though, as cool weather and rain starts up you may need to call it and get them in.

  • Harvest pumpkin and squash once the stalks are dry, potatoes once the tops die down and kumara when its ready.
  • Yams fatten up and get sweeter after the first frosts so leave them be.
  • As shellout beans dry, get them in undercover. Pop them out of their pods as soon as poss. Any beans that are spongy are no good for storing.
  • Keep January planted bean, zucchini, tomato and cucumber crops jogging along with a daily harvest. Don’t let energy get wasted on the big old bean at the bottom! A daily harvest prods new flowers into being and new flowers means new fruits.

Odd Jobs

  • Thin carrots and parsnips for good sized crops
  • Save seed
  • Move the wormfarm to a warmer spot for winter
  • Help prevent chocolate spot and rust in broadbeans with a generous side dressing of woodash at sowing and again at flowering.
  • Boost leafy greens, leeks, broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage along with weekly liquid feeds
  • Keep an eye on soil moisture levels for new seedlings and young plants – its easy to forget as weather cools. Do check soil moisture first though so you don’t overwater!
  • Refresh tired old kale, silverbeet or chard plants and regrow a fresh lot of leaves by chopping off the tops, and leaving a 20cm ish stump. Donate a bit of soil food like compost or rotten manure at the base, pour on liquid feed + mulch with the tops. Pretty soon you’ll have a delightful harvest of little, sweet leaves.
  • Tie up asparagus canes so they don’t get in your way while they dry. Its important that they do – and thus return all those carbs to the roots. The easiest way is to bang a few short stakes in front of the crop and run a line of twine along – holding them up rather than lasso-ing them.

Be chill about the pests

paper wasp eating a cabbage white caterpillar
Paper wasp eating a cabbage white butterfly caterpillar

There are plenty of pests in a warm autumn. Don’t panic about them ok! They’ll be done when the cold hits and will toddle off to hibernate or die.

Pests are a fact of gardening life – they come and go, cycling around depending on weather and soil health and predatory population. Add a new practice each year to strengthen your garden and soon enough you’ll have less to deal with – not none, but a lot less.

Tap into natural predators, get them on the job by being spray free and planting heaps of beneficial insect fodder.

  • Keep squashing shield bugs, cabbage white caterpillars and aphids on your daily walk about.
  • Whitefly can be blasted off with the hose. Pluck off heavily infected leaves, fold them up and squash them.
  • Passionvine hoppers are tricky as adults. If you have an overwhelming population, spray with Neem every 4 days or so, and next spring, add Neem granules at the base.


  1. Thanks for the timely reminder… all pumpkin, marrows, cucumber and toms harvested and beds mulched and/or ready to be planted out.

    2 coffees coming your way 🙂

  2. Kathryn Dewe says

    Hi Kath
    Your citrus tree post mentioned sprinkling seeds of plantain and others to grow a diy mulch.
    Is this available as a premix or a diy? And from where?

    • Hey Kathryn – its just my own seed collecting happening here. Little patches of grass killed off by laying carpet or tarps down. Once the grass has died away, dried seedheads tossed about and eventually it all comes together. hope this helps Kath

  3. Melanie Walker says

    Im trying tobuy you a couple of coffees but the link seems to be linked to itself so it keeps going back to the click here page. Will keep trying.

    Also, do you have tips for starting an asparagus bed?

    Brassicas are pumping and I have a great mix of veg coming on. Thanks for such fabulous advice.

    Cheers, Melanie

    • Wops sorry bout that… thanks for the thought though 🙂 Depends what type of soil you’ve got as to how you start your asparagus bed Melanie – do tell.

      • Melanie Walker says

        Ahh yes of course…started out as pakahi 25 years ago but has had very regular applications of seagrass, compost and poo ever since. I stopped digging 18 months ago when I started getting your newsletter. So I guess its just a mixture now. Kind of dark brown and a nice texture and smells good.

        • Sweet – so the first thing is drainage – must be free draining. However you do that, make that your first mission. Then make a mega pile of compost as in what you’ve been doing – any sea waste is the cats pjs for asparagus, herbs, manure …… Pile it all up as high as you can go. EM would be cool if thats your way and cover it with sacks or hay and leave it over winter to rot down so that come spring you can plant out crowns. Keep your asparagus bed narrow ok you dont ever want to stand on it and be sure of good sun from early spring on and air flow throughout the growing season to prevent rust. ie not in a semi shaded corner or low spot. Fun!

          • Melanie Walker says

            Thankyou so much for your generousity Kath. In the nick.of time too as I.had chosen enrirely the wrong spot. If ever you feel like some r &r in Golden Bay id love to shout you a few nights in one of our airbnb cabins. Yay asparagus here we come!

          • What a treat that would be – I love Golden Bay, and its been a while! Thats really kind and I’ll keep you in mind for sure 🙂 Hope your asparagus grows well, K

  4. Hi Kath,

    You mention planting “catch crops” next year for passion vine hoppers – what would be catch crops?

    Many thanks

  5. Hi Kath, thanks for your awesome monthly advice. Love your mahi. I’ve never really grown alliums that much apart from spring onions and always seem to miss the recommended times for sowing/transplanting onions and leeks. Would direct sowing onions now mean onions to harvest in spring? Would other alliums also do okay if direct sown now? cheers

    • Hiya Matt, Autumn onions are usually ready early summer. Spring sown onions usually ready autumn. They’re so versatile having quite a big window for sowing direct or tray. Thing is to find the best for your place. I like to use the winter garden cos there is more room but the disadvantage is not always a nice dry harvesting window as summer can take a while to get going here. Garlic, red onions and brown onions can all be sown now. Hope this helps.

  6. O phew awesome to hear we still have lots of time to plant out brassicas. I got a bit stressed when I saw your March 20 post where you said “you’ve got to get planting this weekend” https://www.ediblebackyard.co.nz/my-top-3-winter-greens-how-to-grow-them/ because due to reasons, my winter seedlings are still too wee to plant out just yet (only 2 true leaves and 2 baby ones), so I had been tossing up between leaving them a bit longer and biffing them in the garden to see what happens 🙂 Did you maybe mean that was the last weekend for sowing seeds? We’re a little bit further south than you and don’t have frosts here as we’re at the beach, but we do have serious winter gales!

    • Hiya Melissa, no stress! I was more eluding to successional planting s making sure you were all planting some crops in march for winter eating, but its not the only moment you’ve got for planting – you can plant brassicas all winter long ok. Keep them growing a bit more ok. Bigger is better then they’ll grow faster/ stronger in the ground and have more luck against slugs. Dont let them get too wet – barely moist is the thing you want ok. And perhaps a dilute liquid feed of worm wees or seaweed or comfrey. Keep them warm for speed – under cover of a porch or some such. happy gardening! Kath

  7. Alana Cornforth says

    Hi Kath

    I forgot to panic buy seed-raising mix… any tips for growing seeds without it? I don’t have much in the way of ready compost as we trench all our bokashi scraps instead of using a compost bin. Can I just use ordinary garden soil? I’ve found your winter planting plan post so useful and want to sow some broccoli seeds I have – I assume I can’t direct sow it?

    Thanks for all your help – I feel so lucky to be seeing the benefits of it in my garden especially during crazy times such as these.

    Take care

    • I hear ya Alana – the value of the garden has just gone through the roof! I am also without seed raising mix which I usually get in second hand from an organic micro green grower – yikes! Its kinda cool to have to make do though. Yes you can direct sow broccoli, but you will need to really be on the job with slugs and snails – if you do have them I recommend a tray sow to get seedlings going strong first.
      Seeds grow really well in anything thats free draining and warm (think how well they sprout in the driveway!) So hunt around for what you can find and mix it altogether, adding a bit of this and that until you have a fabric you like. You can reuse it as well.
      Basically you need about one part something peaty – scrape back leaf litter and get the goodness underneath, 2 parts really good soil/ worm castings – hunt about the garden or I found a nice pocket under my lemon! and 2 parts something inert and gritty like river sand (cant use beach sand though), well rotted sawdust works well or I re used the sand from my kumara growing box (lucky find!). I managed to scrape up a small leftover bit of seed raising mix I found in the greenhouse to add to the brew and further help with drainage – so wasteful of me not to save it in a bucket! Different times when I felt my seed raising mix was a sure thing.
      Hope this helps.
      Be well you guys x

  8. Hi Kath, I’m desperate for your pruning book – will you start selling it again in level 3? Also I love your YouTube videos, hope there will be some more on pruning and espalier 😍

  9. Celia Hume says

    Hi Kath, is it possible to finish shellout beans to dry inside? Mine are taking forever to dry outside (beans are formed in the pods and starting to harden but pods are still green). We’re starting to get lots of rain though (and want to use the space for something else!)..
    Thanks, always appreciate your wisdom!

    • Oh yes its tricky this balance of replanting and removing. Ideally beans fully mature on the vine, there really is no replacement for this sadly. At the very least wait until the bean seed is hard (a bite test tells you this), at this point even if the outside isn’t properly dry, you can cut the plant at the roots and hang it upside down undercover to finish off. Mean time sow the next lot of crops in trays and keep pricking them into the next size container (do this for bought seedlings as well) until the bed is ready. This way when you plant them out they have a good head start.

  10. Hi Kath

    Can I sow poppy seeds now down in Dunedin or best to wait? Love your blog

  11. Hi Kath
    Peas drive me mad. Such a loved crop, but I always have poor germination and often the ones that do germinate fail to thrive.
    Top tips?

  12. Pru Mitchell says

    Hi Kath, I heard you mention sowing garlic now to give it a head start and help prevent the awful effects of rust.later on on the crop. As the shoots come up what should I then do please?
    Thank you for a fab news letter.
    Cheers Pru

  13. Pru Mitchell says

    Keep that powder dry…just read your article on growing garlic!
    Thanks Kath.

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