May In The Vegie Patch + Strawberries + Asparagus

strawberries

Things To Do In The Vegie Patch This Month

  • Leave nothing bare! Soil prefers to be growing stuff – a crop or greencrop preferably. If weeds is what you’ve got and you’re just too busy – then let it be weeds. Yes, truly – weeds! Roots keep your soil happening. When you get around to it pile up a thick layer of mulch on top of those weeds and let it all rot down natures way.  This saves your back, leaves your soil in peace and adds a heap of goodness. Not all soil building is arduous.
  • Make lots of compost. Finished summer crops/ flowers/ perennials provide a bounty of ingredients for compost. Chop them down, cut them up and toss together. Pour on some liquid seaweed or EM. Cover (my favourite cover is a fadge/wool sack), and leave nature to make magic. There is nothing cooler than starting your spring crops off with the rotted remains of your summer crops.

Direct sow

lupin in

  • Greencrops – lupins, broadbeans, phacelia, wheat, oats, mustard or barley. I really like Kings seeds pea, oat, lupin mix. Grow as many greencrops as you can.
  • Corn salad and miners lettuce. Desert island saladings these. Sow them once, let them self seed and have winter greens every year.
  • Broadbeans, peas, snow peas; spinach, bok choy, rocket, kale, coriander; radish.
  • Good companions like calendula, poppies, cornflowers, larkspur and sweetpeas (must have sweetpeas!)

Tray sow

onion strings

  • Onions. If you get the chance to play with growing onions – go for it! There’s no greater sense of pride than in your home grown onions.
  • Salads to plant under cover (cloche, cold frame or greenhouse), when ready.
  • Broccoli and cabbage. Even though growth slows right up from now in its still worth it to keep planting brassicas. Sure they’ll grow at a snails pace but come spring you’ll be pleased you grew them.

Plant

potager poppies at Edible Backyard

  • Strawberries. Plant into raised ridges if you have heavy soil. May plantings have all winter to grow lovely big roots. Big roots = bigger plants = more cropping. For big juicy fruits use rotten manure in your soil preps.
  • Garlic. My garlic is already in, but May is still a great time to plant out. Part  of our rust prevention strategy is going to be finding varieties that are less prone. Heritage is going to be a big player here. Hardneck garlic’s are hardier than softnecks though they don’t store as well. If you team them up with an early garlic you’ve got your season covered.
  • Lettuces – under cloches or in the greenhouse.
  • Brassicas for spring eating.
  • Silverbeet, perpetual beet, chard, kale, parsley – our kitchen cornerstones
  • Lots of flowers like stock, primula, tulips, snapdragons

Odd Jobs

  • Thin and weed carrots, kohlrabi, fennel, parsnips to give each due space. What a difference good spacings make to your crops.
  • Liquid feed broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower and celery and all other leafy greens too. This is a powerful way to keep biology active and working, so make it a regular part of your garden care.
  • Harvest kumara. If you haven’t already done it, get those kumara up! The rules say 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. It’s more important to get them up before the frost hits it. The gamble is yours!

Lay Your Asparagus Down

asparaguspatch

When the ferns are nearly all brown, the asparagus has come to the end of its run. All the carbs have gone to the roots and it’s time to lay it down.

  • Chop down the dry stalks
  • Weed the bed
  • Cover with a generous amount of compost and manure and/or seaweed. Go nuts here and make it as deep as you can. It will after all rot down over winter, back to ground zero.
  • Top with the chopped up stalks.

Ready for a bumper spring crop 🙂

Pests

Sooty mould on citrus or greenhouse crops shows you that a sucker (aphid, whitefly, scale, thrip) is in action. Add neem to your fortnightly liquid feed and take those suckers out.

Comments

  1. Radha Sahar says

    Hi Kath
    We were interested to read in your newsletter about your hunt for a new natural fertilizer … the Ocean one sounds good. We liked Rok Solid, but were thrilled to find a much cheaper rock dust, RockPLUS Soil Remineraliser, from Fertile Fields in New Plymouth. We drive up there once a few 30 kg sacks of it – enjoying a couple of days off and a look at the Len Lye Gallery in the process. We highly recommend this product, which has been round for years. Perhaps a few folk might want to chip in to get a sack sent down to share and trial? Let’s know what you think of it – our veges are happy and healthy-as in it! Cheers, Radha and Charles … Here is the link …
    http://www.fertilefields.co.nz/drupal/rock_plus_soil_remineraliser

    • Any thoughts on Bio Boost

    • Thanks so much for the link Radha – really helpful to give everyone options. Your garden gives you all the feedback you need, so pleased you’ve found something that’s working for you + the bonus of a roadie to the ‘naki – always great. The only question I’d ask is where they harvest the rock from. nga mihi Kath

  2. I’ve been looking to buy Miner’s lettuce. Can’t see it in any of the shops. Anyone know where to buy this around Horowhenua.Thanks?

    • Buy a packet of seed Graham – kings seeds sell it. Miners lettuce does much better when direct sown ok. Best winter salading! And regards bio boost I love the recycled nature of it. Its not something I’ve really investigated – a little put off with all the processing. Have you been using it?

  3. Trish Sarr says

    Garlic and rust – lost it all two years in a row. Is there something I can plant where the rusty garlic was to “cleanse” the soil? Or maybe that isn’t necessary?
    Thank you for what you do for us all, Kath.

    • Hi Trish – I like to sow a greencrop of cleansing mustard after any disease. Be sure to remove all parts of the crop ok. For me that means the bonfire or if no fires at your place then bag it up and leave it to rot down. The hard part in a small garden is then keeping any allium (onion, leek,garlic) off that spot for as long as you can. If you run out of room in your garden try it in a pot – goes really well. Hope this helps. Love Kath

  4. Thanks for drumming it in to us about the green crops. I have several unplanted packets that I purchased after reading your last month’s blog (or maybe the month before!). They are going in THIS WEEKEND!!!! Bare soil no more…..

  5. Alana Cornforth says

    Hi Kath

    We’re about to move into a rented property so can’t do too much to the garden there. There are some raised beds full of soil already but no plants or even weeds growing. I’m wondering what you would advise to do to prepare these beds for use? As we may only be there for a year I’d like to get some plants in asap if possible, but do want to make sure the soil is ok. Any thoughts? There are 6 beds so could sow a green manure mix in some of them perhaps. Was wondering about getting some horse manure or store-bought compost as we won’t have our own ready for a wee while. Any advice greatly appreciated! Also, are there any fruit trees that you reckon would be ok in containers that we could take with us when we leave?

    Cheers
    Alana

    • Hi Alana,
      Tricky question to answer from afar! Are there any worms? What does the soil smell like? I’m a bit worried when you say its bare dirt – no weeds even? I wouldn’t go raw horse manure, I’d get a good quality compost in – if you live round here check out Paranui Organics. And also something like EM and/ or oceans organics liquid feed to stimulate the good biology. Top it all off with mulch – a lovely leafy one if there are deciduous trees near you. And yes you cannot beat a greencrop for soil remediation. I’d go pea and oat from kings seeds. As for trees in pots, not so much. If its only a year I’d wait. You’ll need to get to know your new property first as well as perhaps creating shelter, drainage et all before planting trees anyway – never recommend rushing into the fruit tree thing. Hope this helps
      Kath

      • Thanks heaps! I thought it seemed a bit odd to have no weeds or anything. Will check for worms and have a sniff once we move in. Anything in particular I’d be looking for?

  6. I have just planted several fruit trees (mandarin, ?, lemon, apple and feijoa) into a reasonably well drained flat area on my section and have been advised to also plant comfrey around them. Is this correct, and what other measures can I take? They appear to be growing quite nicely at present

    • Hi Roger
      Yes to the comfrey beneath the apples!

      I dont usually go for a living mulch beneath citrus because I live in the west coast/ lower half of the north island and at times we dont get great summers I need to be careful of airflow for best health around citrus and feijoas too. Therefore I go the deep mulch road beneath my evergreens. If you live somewhere with hot dry summers and are happy to prune the citrus and feijoas so that the first layer of branches is well above the height of the full grown comfrey – then go for it. Another useful option is a comfrey border round the edges of your citrus area so its easy to slash it and throw it on them for mulch.

      The advantage of mulch beneath feijoas rather than comfrey is that you can easily get to the dropped fruits, which are far better than picked ones.
      hope this helps!
      Kath

  7. Patricia SARR says

    Thanks for suggesting I get my strawberries going now, in May, Kath. Any suggestions for which sort? I’ve given up on using runners as they just never produce as well as newly-bought plants.

    Many thanks, Trish

    • Good question, and yes strawberries do run out of juice after a while. I have two favourites that I grow at home the little heritage Captain cook strawberries – not as big as modern ones but so sweet and easy; and the clumping alpines, which you can grow in a perennial area – smaller again but so sweet and they just fruit and fruit and fruit! At the school garden we grew Seascape which is a modern variety but it went really well – the kids love big red juicy strawberries! Alpines benefit from dividing every now and then. All others are at peak in year 2/3 so after that need to be replaced with runners or new plants.

  8. Ray Page says

    Hi Kath, when you say plant strawberries in May you are talking about the runners off the old plants I presume? New plants don’t come available this early that I know of. We have found the runners never do as well as a new batch each year in our strawberry patch. Thoughts please? Cheers, Ray

    • Great question Ray! Yes I am talking runners, I am presuming a whole lot of prior knowledge here aren’t I! I wonder if the modern varieties that are clones dont go so well from runners? I grow the heritage Captain Cook strawberries, and pot runners up keeping a new strawberry nursery on the go. Runners from younger plants seem to go better, and I only use the first lot of runner, and runners that have grown somewhat in the pot seem to go better still. I will need to discover more here for you guys regards runners from modern varieties. Thanks for your question, Kath

  9. Diana gabric says

    Hi Kath – I would like to know about the nitrogen fixer called Alaeagnus which is a good plant for adding N to the soil. There is one species called the Russian olive but it meant to be invasive. Would you recommend it and if so where could I find a source? I’ve looked on line but had no luck. Kay Baxter also mentions this species in her book “Design your own orchard”

    Cheers, Diana.

    • Yes it has become a big problem in the states which puts me off growing it too as I’d hate to cause havoc in our native bush. There are however loads of options for nitrogen fixers – right through from groundcovers, shrubs to trees – so you don’t need to be too attached to one particular variety. Check out Kahikatea farm website for the plants they sell.
      best
      Kath

  10. Kay Latham says

    Hi Kath,
    Great Newsletter, thank you. As I am in Levin I’m happy if Graham would like to come around and dig out a clump of miner’s lettuce. If he reads this again he can give me a call, Kay 368 3630