January In The Vegie Patch + Autumn Crops A Go Go

summer vegie patch

January is an opportunity to extend our summer crops. To create a lovely continuity after our current crops call it quits. Successional planting/ sowing is the proper name. Let’s just call it – not going hungry, little and often planting, or production plus 🙂

And while we’re at it, let’s think about dinner in Autumn. Let’s get some new long term stuff planted to keep your vegie patch abundant all the way from Summer through Autumn. Not in an excessive, big mission way. But a regular, little way.

What to sow and plant in January

autumn vegie patch

  • Plant out another lot of dwarf Beans and Basil. Another one or two Tomato, Cucumber and/or Zucchini. Really useful crops these.
  • Direct sow Salads (choose heat lovers like Tree lettuce, Merveille de Quarter Saison, Drunken Woman, Oak Leaf, Summer Queen), and another lot of Rocket, Radish and Coriander. All on the shady side.
  • Direct sow Beetroot. Use your edges for this, unless you need a heap to pickle/ bottle you don’t need a whole bed. Such a small efficient crop, they can be squeezed in anywhere.
  • Tray sow Winter leeks and Autumn brassicas.
  • Make compost for Autumn plantings.
  • Toss another lot of flower seed about to continue the fodder for the bees et all, and for the sheer pleasure flowers bring your good self. Stock, snapdragon, calendula, borage, primula, and chamomile … so many options here! Choose vigorous self-seeders as opposed to fussy, fancy things. This way you only need sow once, and enjoy them ever more. Self-sufficient plants we love and adore.

Find garlic seed

My darling friends – it’s no good coming to me in May or June asking where to get garlic seed, by then all the good stuff has sold out. Start the hunt now! Mid January brings cured garlic to the farmers markets, use this for planting. For good quality, heritage garlic seed get on the email lists at Sethas Seeds or Country Trading.

Manage pests + weeds for peace of mind

shield bugs in berries

Little pest and weed infestations are a doddle. Do yourself the biggest of favours and keep a daily eye on things to avoid overwhelming, and quite frankly depressing infestations.

Should you be going away, do these three things before you head off

  1. a Neem spray (or whatever you use) to keep pests in hand
  2. a seaweed liquid feed
  3. mulch everything

Get ready for hungry brassica’s – two ways:

broccoli harvest

  1. Sow a legume greencrop (+ lime if you are on clay soils). Cut it down in about 6 weeks – right about flowering time, then aerate the bed, spread compost + minerals + mulch with the greencrop. Leave to settle before planting out.
  2. Or aerate the bed, give it a good water if need be (for best do this on a rainy day) and cover the whole bed in rotten manure. Mulch generously and leave it to percolate for 6 weeks or so.

I start planting out brassica’s late January/ early February and sow a mixed tray (2 or 3 each of cauli, cabbage, broccoli) every 3 or so weeks for regular harvests Autumn through Spring.

A few fruity bits

laterals coming off

  • Trim your espaliers as they do another shoot up
  • Trim off strawberry runners to keep your strawberry plants energised. You can of course pot these up.
  • Feed citrus and thin fruits on young trees.
  • Pluck fruits off 1 or 2 year old Avocado trees. It takes alot of carbs to produce flowers and new leaf buds – a big ask for a little tree. At the same time give it a feed with a full spectrum mineral fertiliser. Let your young Avo put its mojo into new shoots instead of fruits, to build a strong canopy.


  1. Hi there – this year I want to plant broad beans and peas over winter to get an earlier start in the spring. We are in the Otaki area. When do you recommend planting my seeds ? I am going to use jiffi pots as it is easier for me to manage the water issues if I do it that way. I am itching to get going ….

    • Hi Victoria, probably a bit early for both these things although if the summer never gets hot you’ll be fine. A huge part of learning what works when is just to do it and see what happens. I start sowing broadys and peas in Autumn. If you get my newsletter every month there is always monthly info about what I’m sowing and planting. But dont let what I’m doing stop you playing with other ideas 🙂 Kath

  2. Hi Kath, wonder if you can help me with my fruit trees as I am at a complete loss. We planted around 30 fruits trees (pip and stone) when we first moved to West Melton 6 years ago but have had very limited success with the stone fruit. The Plumcot is always the first to flower in the spring with a magnificent display of blossom and the promise of hundreds of fruit. But every year every single blossom drops off. I have other plums (Elephant Heart, Santa Rosa) which I thought would pollinate it, and we have irrigation set up to ensure (what I hope is) a decent drink. And I have a 3 year old comfrey planted under her and she still won’t produce. The quince, apricots and nectarines are also very hit and miss. I’ve yet to have a glut. I’d love a glut. 😊
    The other issue I have is what looks like rust on the same vege plants every time I plant them, namely celery, chives and garlic, sometimes silver beet.. Is this some sort of soil depletion?
    Thanks for any advice you can offer.

    • Hi Jo,
      I wonder does the blossom drop off or blow off?
      Both Santa Rosa and Elephant heart should pollinate your Plumcot (and each other), as they are Japanese plums. My first thought is your trees have only just come into their prime – depending on how big they were at planting and how fast they’ve grown as to when they hit their straps … some where in that 5 – 7 year phase. So perhaps give it another year.
      Second thought is that are you sure the Santa Rosa and Elephant Heart are true to type. Check the fruit and identify it positively – it does happen that trees get mis- labelled in the grafting or packing process.
      Apart from pollenizers, productive trees or otherwise stem from many varied things. Main things making the difference to fruit tree success are
      variety that matches your climate – very important here. For example, if frost hits your place in spring then early flowering varieties like plumcots and apricots will suffer. Nectarines need free drainage and warmth to do well – think Hawkes Bay – perhaps your climate doesn’t suit them? also each variety has it quirks so some tend to biennial bearing for instance – its worth it to research each variety and learn all these little details. The better a variety suits your soil/climate the better it performs
      weather – different seasons bring different results eg hot, dry spring or wet spring aren’t the best for pollination. Also if trees in the path of prevailing wind that’ll impact pollination too
      bees – gotta have them
      soil health – feeding with full spectrum mineral fert supports flower/fruits as opposed to nitrogen like manures that support foliage
      soil moisture – free drainage is really important here as is steady supply of moisture from flowering, any drying out during this time impacts
      pruning – what a difference keeping your trees thinned for fresh growth and fruit spur development makes

      hopefully one of these things solves your problem, good luck with the glut 🙂

      And as for rust that’s environmental – airflow is important, hygiene too – not recycling rusty foliage and as for nutrition – back to mineral ferts as opposed to rich nitrogen ones.

      best K

  3. Joanne McGregor says

    Hi Kath, thanks so much for your words of wisdom. I hadn’t thought of investigating the specific varieties so will do that first. I don’t know if the Santa Rosa or Elephant are true as haven’t had a single plum from them yet! Perhaps they are still too young. If all else fails I’ll threaten them like I did with the pear – told it I’d give it one more year to produce or else, and ouila! it’s laden this year. 🙂
    Thanks and happy gardening.

  4. Hi Keith,
    I got beautiful huge garlic from a farm. Is it a good time to plant them? I’m a bit confused…
    Cheers, and happy New year!!

  5. Hi Kath.
    Just been reading your book, Organic Gardening Calendar. You mention growing cut and come again cabbage. With just the two of us at home most of the time, we don’t eat a full cabbage and while the waste goes back into the compost I still feel a bit guilty. What cabbages do you use for cut ad come again? Also have a small garden so this type of cabbage would be very useful.


    • Collard greens I’m talking about there Anne – a great cabbage for 2. As is kale, bok choy and all the asian greens and the little red express red cabbage.

  6. Lydia Gulgec says

    Hi Kath, I am having a terrible tomato season, flowers are dropping off my plants without fruit setting, I live on the west coast and it’s been extremely wet and not massively warm , they are in a covered garden…..is there any way to save them or do you think they are a lost cause this season? Thanks

    • Such an un-summery summer Lydia! I feel your pain. Flowers will drop in extreme conditions … too wet and too cold will do it for sure. I’d leave the plants in, but find a way to improve their life and protect them – deep mulch will help heaps, a layer of comfrey or seaweed beneath the mulch another bonus, getting the excess water away too if possible, rig up a plastic sheet or stack of haybales or some such on the south side to hold the warmth of the sun when it comes + a weekly seaweed or comfrey feed over the plant and soil. If you find some healthy tomato seedlings, plant them into pots – not the soil – and tuck them somewhere really warm and sheltered… in 3 months fingers crossed you’ll bear fruit. Choose a hardy variety like moneymaker or russian red.
      All the best Kath