May in the Vegie Patch

Chard (1)Two outside summer crops remain productive at my place – December planted Russian Reds and Rainbow Chard. Is there a more beneficient crop than chard? Who else can cross from baking hot January to dewy cold May without flinching? When saladings run out there’s finely sliced chard instead; into every soup, casserole and frittata a few leaves find their way – can’t have enough of the good green stuff! Sure she is an adaptable plant, but she carries on because of the soil she’s in. Planted into a lovely pile of compost with the occassional gob of Nellie’s doings through the summer and the odd liquid feed – this is what gives your crops longevity – soil that’s jamming!

Sweet peppers from the greenhouse are a real treat at the moment, but mostly our meals are based around late summer planted crops cabbage, parsley, broccoli and celery. The carrot stores are dwindling and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I got my winter root crops in in time and will get to enjoy them over winter instead of a woody hairy spring crop.

Cool things to do in the vegie patch this month.

  • Make compost. Finished summer crops provide a bounty of ingredients for compost. Chop them down, cut them up and toss it all together with some seaweed or poo. How exciting to feed your spring crops with the rotted remains of your summer crops. Just like nature does it.
  • Direct sow corn salad, rocket and miners lettuce. Desert island saladings these. Sow them once, let them self seed and have winter greens every year.
  • Direct sow winter greencrops. Last chance gardeners! Get some in  – lupins, wheat, oats, mustard or barley.
  • Direct sow broadbeans
  • Plant lettuces under cloches or in the greenhouse.
  • Plant out brassicas for spring eating.
  • Thin carrots and parsnips.
  • Chop off asparagus ferns. Add a generous layer of rotten manure or seaweed, and mulch with the chopped up ferns.
  • Liquid feed broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower that aren’t heading yet. Celery and other leafy greens can have some too.
  • Pile mulch up around the stalks of any leggy brassicas to hold them steady in the wind.
  • Harvest kumara. You’re supposed to wait till the tops die off, but in all these years I’ve never got to that stage. This instruction is for hotter climates I think. Its more important to get it up before the frost hits it. The gamble is yours!
  • Get ready for garlic. Cut down the legumes you planted in preparation (for me it’s my summer beans). Add a layer of compost, a sprinkle of Rok Solid and lime flour. Mulch the bed with the cut up legumes and leave it to settle until garlic planting day. Drainage is really important for garlic, so if you are on heavy clay then I suggest making ridges to plant into. This’ll raise your garlic above the soggy stuff. Also reminding you, I hope, to do something about your drainage!

Some great places to buy organically grown garlic seed:

Sethas Seeds Sell a mix of heritage varieties as well as heirloom seeds. Hit the Shop Now button to see the catalogue.

Love Lavendar Sells Prinator garlic which is a good keeping, soft top garlic

NZ Garlic Sell Kakanui garlic, a NZ heirloom.


  1. Michelle Urquhart says:

    This year for the first time in about 4 years, I’ve had the head space to grow more than just lettuces in an old pallet on the deck. I’ve got my vege garden up and running again, and the first person/website I turned to for advice and inspiration was Kath @ Edible Backyard. I now have mustard and broadbeans nestled in pea straw doing wonderful things for my new garden spot. My herb garden is tidy again, and replenished with chard and some winter colour. The garlic is in – early! Tomorrow I start to lay the foundation for next season’s giant pumpkins and plant some more of my Mum’s heirloom bulbs.
    Thanks Kath – your wisdom, as ever, was spot on.