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Gardening diary: January

Gardening diary: January

High summer means water is the key requirement for healthy plant growth for now and for the rest of the season.

There is still plenty of summer left to sow and plant a wide variety of vegetables. Buying seedlings, while much more expensive than seeds, does give you at least a month head start and hence greater yield potential.

The following vegetables can be germinated (seeds) or planted out (seedlings) for a late summer crop: beans (bush and runner varieties), cucumbers, marrow, squash, pumpkins, melons, silver beet, beetroot, celery, parsnips.

Main crop potatoes, such as Rua and Agria, can still be planted out now for an autumn harvest. Earthing these up with compost every few weeks, so that only the top 30cm of plant is visible, will increase yield considerably.

Monthly sowings of lettuce, leek, carrot and radish seeds will ensure a continued supply until the first frosts of winter.

Personally, I would hold off raising brassicas (cabbage, cauliflower, brussels, broccoli) until March/April when the worst of the cabbage white butterfly has receded.

How and when you water is as important as the watering itself. Most plants prefer weekly, deep watering early in the mornings and around the root zone only.

Plant-specific watering regimes

  • Regular water on leaves and roots: citrus and basil
  • Water throughout growth: runner beans, celery, cucumbers, leeks ,lettuces, radishes, spinach, tomatoes
  • Water during flowering/head formation: peas, cauliflower, potatoes
  • Water when fruiting: courgettes, sweet corn, marrows, squash, pumpkins, melons
  • Minimal watering: globe artichokes, asparagus, beetroot, cabbages, carrots, parsnips,
  • swedes, turnips

Harvest

  • Winter plantings of broad beans, garlic and shallots will be giving their last crops.
  • Early-spring planted peas, courgettes, red and white onions, lettuces, radishes, tomatoes, silver beet, carrots, potatoes, beetroot and bush beans are ready for picking.
  • Established globe artichoke plants will be giving their best heads now.
  • Delicious strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, gooseberries and blackcurrants are all fruiting, ready to be pudding-ised.



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