Every month my garden produces an abundance of fresh harvests of seasonal veggies. Its late spring in my patch, and the temperature in my garden is on the increase. Late Spring also brings with it the storm season in the Hunter. Storm season means I have to contend with heat, humidity, the potential of strong winds or hail, and also sudden intense down pours. But with these threats also comes an explosion of lush growth as the veggies respond to the rain and warmth. There is plenty of work to keep the patch going and I find that I do not have enough hours in the day to do the stuff I want to do.
So far in November I have been able to harvest a lot of vegetables. Four types of Potatoes, the first Zucchinis, Lettuces, Beetroot, Cherry Tomatoes, Spring Onions, Silverbeet, Cabbages, Garlic, Kohlrabi, Carrots and heaps of Herbs. The dinner plate has been full of tasty fresh veggies. There is also the promise of many more in coming weeks, Tomatoes, Sweet Corn, Cucumbers and Salad Greens are just a few.
The plant growth this time of year is extraordinary. I swear that when I come home from work every day, that the Sweet Corn is much taller than when I left in the morning. Another crop that is going gang busters is the Cherry Tomatoes, they are looking more and more like the ‘Great Wall of China’ each day, I swear that they are planning world veggie domination.
With all of the harvest coming in, I find my mind turning to what to plant next. There are at least four of my garden beds that are empty and screaming out to me to plant something. If you are like me, I bet you can’t just leave them idle for too long!
Here’s the plan. In one bed I’ll plant more Salad Greens, another Sweet Corn, the third Zucchinis and Cucumber and the last one I’ll prepare for my Sweet Potatoes. Each bed which are close to five square meters in size, will need slightly different preparation, depending on what I will be planting into it and also what crop was growing in there previously. All of my garden beds are made up of sandy loam that drains well, and therefore it more than likely has leached nutrients during the spring rains. This is what I will be doing:
Salad Greens: This bed had all of my Potatoes in it. The Potato crop was not quite as good as I would have expected and one of the reason is because it did not have enough organic matter in the soil to start the crop. So, because I want to eat mostly the leaves of the crops I will be putting in next I want to add two things to the soil. Nitrogen and Organic material. I will add one bag each of chicken and cow manure to bolster the organic material and nitrogen content of the soil, and also a couple of handfuls of mixed fertilizer for all of the trace elements. Dig it all in, place the drip irrigation in place and cover with a layer of sugar cane mulch. I’ll leave it for a week and plant seedlings directly into it and they will jump out of the ground. I have got to get this one right because this will produce my Christmas Salad and the guests have already been invited for lunch.
Sweet Corn: The previous crop that produced a good result in this bed was Garlic. Considering I planted it almost eight months ago and during the crop growing period I only fertilized lightly with liquid fish emulsion, I reckon that the soil will have been depleted of nitrogen and trace elements considerably. Sweet Corn is a heavy feeder, so to get the soil right I will again add one bag each of chicken and cow manure, a couple handfuls each of blood and bone and mixed fertilizer, then it will be good to go. I’ll mulch the soil and after a week in which the manures will settle down, I’ll make a space in the mulch and sow the Sweet Corn directly into the soil. It will be my third batch for the season.
Zucchinis and Cucumber: I had Carrots in this bed. A decent crop was harvested, but because I tend to go light on the nitrogen for root crops I will need to add it back in. I want the Zucchinis and Cucumbers to grow fast and lush because this crop will be producing in the heat of summer when the conditions are harshest in my patch, so they need to be resilient. I want to build up the nitrogen and organic material. Just like the Salad Greens, I will add one bag each of chicken and cow manure to bolster the organic material and nitrogen content of the soil, and also a couple of handfuls of mixed fertilizer for all of the trace elements.
Sweet Potatoes: This bed previously produced the Broad Beans. I cut them all down and all of the old plants are laying on top of the soil rotting away and are ready to be dug in, roots and all. Because the Broad Beans have nitrogen nodules on the roots and provide me with heaps of organic material I will only add a couple of handfuls of mixed fertilizer to ensure that I have all of the trace elements in place for the Sweet Potatoes. I want them to grow tubers underground for me to eat, not an abundance of green leafy foliage for show. If you want to know how I grow a great crop of Sweet Potatoes, check out a blog I wrote last year. I have grown good crops for at least three seasons now.
So that’s the plan. All I need to do now is to ‘work the plan’. I had better take a couple of days off work I reckon. I’ll show you the results in coming weeks.