September In The Vegie Patch


So much cool stuff to do in the food garden at the mo. So much prettiness to soak up and enjoy. I am out there every spare moment!

Eat Up Winter Crops

harvest all the roots before the weather warms up edible backyard nz

Put a concentrated effort into eating rootcrops still in the ground. As weather warms they’ll gear up to seed getting a hard core up the centre or they’ll start to crack and split and do other crazy things – get them up before they go past their best… 100 ways with carrots!!

In the Vegie Patch

bee on borage edible backyard n

Take your cropping success next level and check your soil temperature before planting or sowing anything. Align your crop choices with it. Nature is finely tuned to temperature.

Plant out celery, broccoli, cabbage, bok choy, kale, silverbeet, parsley, salads, onions, leeks, potatoes.
Direct sow carrots, kohlrabi, beetroot, turnip, parsnip, rocket, chicory, endive, spinach, mesclun, miners lettuce, corn salad, salads, bok choy, kale, snopeas, peas, broadbeans, fennel, dill, coriander, shallots, spring onions.
Tray sow celeriac, salads, silverbeet, parsley, chervil.
Companion flowers Direct, or tray sow, or plant as many as you can cram in! eg: calendula, cornflower, poppy, nasturtium, borage, sweet pea, snapdragon, aquilegia, viola, wallflower, larkspur, hollyhock.

In the Greenhouse (or under cover)

greenhouse toms1

Tray sow tomato, chilli, pepper, aubergine, zucchini, cucumber, melon. Because I live at the foothills of the Tararuas, these will all be grown in my greenhouse.

Don’t jones out and rush into summer crops if you live somewhere cool. Patience grasshopper. Planting heat lovers when its hot means less stress, less pest, more crops, happy gardener.

Direct sow dwarf beans, salads, courgette. Love my greenhouse for providing a warm place to grow these guys in this early on.

Lay the mother kumara in a sandbox

Begin your kumara shoots.

Here Comes The Asparagus!


Blimmey, could it get more exciting! Asparagus is popping up and soon to be part of dinner. Hopefully your patch is weed free, composted, mulched = ready for a productive season. If you’ve yet to weed be ever so careful – the spears are super fragile and break off with the slightest knock.

Happiness Is Homegrown, New Potatoes For Christmas.

spuds in buckets

Having spent a good portion of my life coaxing vegetables from soil, I’m weather wary. Between now and the arrival of summer there will be days for shorts, days for raincoats, and days for beanies. I’m cautious with the planting out of tender crops like potatoes – such a waste when they get bowled over by late frosts.

So my first lot of spuds go into buckets – a great use for cracked, broken buckets (sacks are another good option).

Choose fast growers like Rocket, Swift, Liseta or even Cliff Kidney.

Make holes in the bottom for drainage and line with about 10cm of compost.

seaweed potatoes

Lay your seed potato in (one per 10litre bucket), on top of a few bits of seaweed if you’re lucky enough to be seaside or a bunch of comfrey if its up at your place. Top the bucket up with compost/ or straw/ or old hay or a mix of the above to bury the spud – and you’re off!

When it starts to heat up you’ll need to move the bucket amongst shrubs to keep the soil cool but leave the tops in the light.

This is never going to produce the same amount were the tubers in the ground, but it gives those of us on heavy wet ground the opportunity for early potatoes.

If you stagger plantings, you’ll stagger the harvest. Little and often is  achievable, and so very useful.


  1. hi Kath, last year my raspberries, boysenberries and hortberry had an infestation of caterpillars in them and rendered the majority of the fruit inedible. The thing burrowed its way down the centre of the fruit to lay its eggs. Would you know what this is and how to avoid it this season?

    Warmest regards,

    • Hi Jo – that’s a real bummer! Let me know if it was a small white worm or a caterpillar?

      • hi Kath, I think it was a small brown caterpillar from memory. There were lots of moths around the berries and we wondered if that was the final product?
        Warmest regards

        • yip that’ll be it then raspberry bud moth (was ruling out the other option – a fruit fly relation).
          Begin with pruning and burning your prunings. Tie your raspberries to the frame keeping them open and well spread so that the spray is effective. I’d use dipel or any spray with the active ingredient BT bacillus thurengensis, a caterpillar specific spray. You need to achieve good foliage coverage. When the eggs hatch out they bite the foliage and die – hurrah! Fortnightly sprays will keep up with egg hatchings. I hope you have a backpack sprayer to make this job easy.
          My raspberry pest is shield bugs who suck the life out of them leaving corky berries – I too have to spray every fortnight but with Neem. Its a mission but Raspberries are so worth it!
          hope this helps
          love to hear how you get on
          kind regards

          • hi Kath, thank you!! I’ll get spraying with dipel and let you know how it goes.

            Happy gardening!

  2. Spring is such an exciting time of year. I’m from the northern hemisphere and I get such a kick out of seeing your season ramp up (asparagus!) while ours is starting to wind down (garlic!). Good luck in the garden!

  3. I would like to have a contiuous supply of leeks through the winter and into the spring,I live in the Waikato.When should I sow the seeds?

  4. Hi Kath
    Could you recommend an alternative to pea straw to use around potted strawberry plants, hard to buy locally so wondered if seaweed would be ok..though it dries hard and woody? Much appreciated

    • Seaweed is best under the mulch to make the most of it, but you can get what locals call tea leaves from the beach which is the broken up woody seaweedy brew dumped at the tide line. Also you can use any runings/ crop waste/ leaf litter/ grass clippings and mix them together for an excellent mulch.
      Happy gardening Kath

  5. Hi Kath, I planted out broccoli about a month ago and it had bolted and is starting to flower. Would you know why that could be?
    Thanks, Holly

  6. Yes that’s probably it! We had a couple of nice warm spring weeks then turned cold again a few days ago. I’m in the top of the South Island so it fluctuates a bit at this time of the year.

  7. Annie Cochrane says

    Hi Kath
    Great to get your newsletter this morning, giving me more ideas to add to the spring growth. I have a problem with tomato/potato psyllid here. ( I live in Raglan). So each year is a battle to keep my tomatoes producing. Potatoes arent a problem as they are easy to cover with fine mesh, and I grow them early. With Tomatoes, I add Need granules to the planting hole, and then spray with Neem and this does help – but its hit and miss. The only sure fire solution is to cover with mesh, but this makes it hard to access the plants to nip out side shoots and inhibits their growth (mechanically). Do you have this problem, and any solutions?
    Thanks, Annie
    Thank you!

    • Hey Annie – psyllids are a trick for sure. Neem is awesome though not hit and miss at all! You need to spray regularly to keep up with hatching eggs, start early – ie dont let the population get away on you, prune tomatoes so when you do spray you easily achieve complete cover, build beneficial insect populations up and use Naturally Neem cos not all Neem is made equal. Sucking insects are attracted to high nitrogen soils so think how you can pull back here and create a more balanced approach to soil care – mean time get on with the Neem 🙂 Wishing you beauty tomatoes this coming season! Kath

      • Annie Cochrane says

        Thank you Kath, I”ll be persistent in regular sprays of Neem this season. And will mix it with EM and Ocean organics seaweed. I use organic Neem oil from Green Trading so hopefully it is one of the superior brands of Neem. Will check out Naturally Neem also. Thanks for all the good advice – may my beautiful heirlooms survive this season.

  8. Michelle Scofield says

    Hi Kath,
    I hope that you and your whanau are all well! Just wanting some clarification around which part of the ‘j’ of the kumara seedlings you face to the North when planting out please. Do you mean the tail piece? Many thanks

  9. interested in your intercropping suggestion. My garden tends to get rather weedy as the season wears on, and I have found that this ‘biodiversity’ is not are bad as I once thought. It is surprising what comes out of it and in the dry of summer, bare soil dries really quickly, the less beautiful but somewhat untidy weeds keep everything damper. However, planting closer (i.e. with different plants) would be a better idea! The potatoes in buckets in the glass house are a great idea – i might try it with yams as well. Our frost free season is a bit short for yams, but this might lengthen it a bit at either end, I hope, as the huge dark red yams available at supermarkets are nothing like as good as the older, smaller pink yams of days gone by.

    • I agree about the yams! Grab some from Sethas seeds, the yams they sell for seed are the best tasting ones I’ve grown. And they work really well in buckets too! Piling mulch on top of the weeds is much better for soil health and back health – its a win win. So too the paradigm shift from tidy to alive 🙂 Nice to hear from you, Kath

  10. HI Kath, The interplanting makes perfect sense. We are in South Auckland on a small block sloping gently nor/west with a clay base soil. I wanted to start a food forest and 5 yrs ago on a 1/4 acre patch planted natives for wind filter from the south, then some nikau palms for sun/wind filters and then in the centre…bananas, sugar cane, babaco, with lemon balm as ground cover and canna lilies for chop and drop mulch in situ. It was all growing incrediblly well, till we added Kune kunes to eat the surrounding grass. They’ve destroyed most of it by ‘ploughing’ everything up and completely eaten all fruiting 20 bananas. I’m wondering if its a silly idea now to let them continue ‘ploughing up’ the 1/4 acre, and then come autumn heavily plant the whole area, so there is little or no grass and then re home them?

    • Ah yes – pigs are in heaven! Pigs root ground, its how they roll so if you dont want the ground turned over then pigs aren’t suited to your site. Such great animals to have on the team though. Unless you can make them work for you – fence off the bananas or grow them their own forest or rotate them through seasonally to help … too hard to say remotely Tricia. Theres no right or wrong though aye – you’ve tried the pigs and now know how they behave. If you cant make them work for you then may as well re home them for sure. The food forest sounds primo 🙂

  11. Hi Kath thanks for that, I’m going to dig up all my root veg this afternoon! I have a question: I have a row of brassicas that I planted a couple of months ago in part of the garden that doesn’t get very good sunlight so they are still very puny specimens. Is it worth digging them up and replanting in places where I had really good brassicas that are now gone? Or are the plants doomed after languishing for so long? Thanks!

    • Have a play Alana – this is golden! Brassicas can transplant and produce – though in my experience brocolli will go straight to shoots rather than head, but shoots are still super valuable. Dig a few, leave a few – watch it play out. A bit of compost with the puny ones probs not a bad idea. Happy days!

  12. Hi Kath.
    I’ve just set up a raised bed system and trying the rotational crop method. Anyways my first two beds up and running have peas/beans and the second carrots and onions.

    What companion planting woudl you reccomend? Do I ley them grow over each other or is it planting them next to each other in their own space if that makes sense. All new to me.



    • Its over whelming when you start out aye! I’m probs going to annoy you by saying there is no definative answer!! Best way to learn is just to try things out and watch and learn. Heres my simple crop rotation method to help you work out what order to plant things in and get you on the road
      My advice is keep it very simple at the start. Just grow one crop at a time while you find your feet. Getting to know each individual crop comes first ok – then once you feel comfy here spread out into layering up intercropping and mixing things up.