October in the Vegie Patch

interplantingFollowing on from our successional planting chat last month, this photo shows successional planting jazzed up with a bit of interplanting. Instead of waiting for the bed to be empty before planting out the new crop, I’ve planted the new crop out among the old one. This photo is taken in the greenhouse. The dwarf beans were direct sown between the rows of lettuces just as they came into harvest. The soil nice and rich pre lettuces is now just right for beans (nothing needs adding). The salads will well and truly be gone by time the beans are bushing out.

As long as you keep your soil in great knick you can keep your crops rolling over like this. It means less gaps in your cropping, and really makes the most of your productive space.

Providing Spring Shelter

At this time of year it can be extra temperamental (over and above the usual New Zealand temperamental-ness) All those young seedlings need protection or production will be compromised. Here’s two ways:

1. Cloches are quick and easy to put up. Pay special attention to securing the covers or they’ll blow here there and everywhere in the spring howlers. Twist the plastic at the end of the cloche and bury in the garden. Put a rock on top for extra strength.

2. Tall, old crops make for fab shelter. They’re already in and probably feeding the bees, so leave them be and plant around. And when they’re no longer needed (either the weather has settled or the new crops are big enough), don’t worry about disturbing the new seedlings as you wont be ripping the old crops out by the roots, will you now (can you feel my penetrating gaze?!). Of course you wont, you’ll be cutting them off  ground level leaving all those microbes, fungi and bacteria undisturbed to carry on doing what they do best – nurturing your crops.

Outsmart the weather

Our warm, dry winter (so dry that my garden dried out and a few crops suffered), is followed by a cold, rainy spring start. No surprises huh. Its bound to be hot then freezing then wet several times between. A philosophical approach must prevail (and generally gardeners are beautifully philosophical), because there is no controlling the weather. The only ‘control’ you have is to grow as broad a range of crops as your garden can fit. Every  crop has its own weather preference, so spread the load and hit the bulls eye with a few. When you have some successes, the losses aren’t felt so bitterly (unless your marriage depends on it; in the case of my stunted-from-dying-of-thirst broadbeans.)


A great distraction from the broadbean flop is the arrival of the first asparagus, a real boon of a crop. Boon means something you are deeply grateful for, and whilst not grammatically correct conveys my heartfelt message. Fresh picked asparagus is simply the best, and is on my list of top ten crops to grow. Don’t go getting all excited and rush to get your asparagus in. You’ll only achieve high production and long life from this wonderful perennial with a well prepared area. If you’re not ready, then don’t. Autumn is the time to be getting ready, and I’ll be sure to blog about it then for you.

 October checklist and things to do

  • Are your zuchinni, cucumber, pumpkin, corn, tomato and pepper beds ready to grow?!
  • Are your stakes ready and do you know what you’re using for climbing frames?
  • Make a compost pile
  • Direct sow another lot of dwarf beans (under cover), radish, carrot, beetroot, saladings and companion flowers.
  • Plant potatoes.
  • Direct sow cucumber, pumpkin and zuchinni (under cover). I wait till November and direct sow my zuchinni outside.
  • Tray sow tomatoes and basil for outside plantings (I plant my tomatoes outside in December.)
  • Plant out red onions, celery, silverbeet, perpetual beet, parsley, chives, thyme, oregano, sage, rosemary, lavendar and any other herbs you need.
  • Protect echinacea from slugs (and all other new shoots and seedlings)
  • Prick on seedlings as soon as they have 4 leaves.
  • Liquid feed everything, including your fruit trees.
  • Plant citrus. Wait till November if the ground/ air at your place is still cold.
  • Plant comfrey cuttings beneath your fruit trees

Perennial Leeks for sale!

These little beauties are one of those essential vegetables you’ll wonder how you ever did without. Given the right conditions, each leek will grow to about the thickness of a thumb. Pluck them from the bunch as they’re ready, late summer through spring. Then split them up and feed them and let the cycle begin again.

$10 (plus postage) for a bunch of 10, email me if you’re keen. Limited amount.


  1. please can i have the leeks? Shall i send the 10.00 in mail or direct banking?

  2. Shardell quinn says:

    hi kath,
    I’m writing to ask if you have had time to write a book yet? I’d be very interested in buying one. I love your newsletters and have learned so much. I’m new to gardening, in my second year actually and have a small greenhouse and two outdoor beds. Your advice has been invaluable. I came across you in GOOD magazine. Will you be writing for them again soon? I do hope so.
    With thanks , Shardell

    • Hi Shardell,

      Thanks for your comments – pleased you’re enjoying the newsletters! Yes I,m still writing for GOOD mag and once upon a time a long time ago I wrote a book as a fundraiser for Organic NZ – its a diary of the edible garden over a year. For sale at commonsense organics and maybe through organic nz mag if there are any left.
      best Kath