February and March are the peak of the harvest season and are the busiest times in a Northland garden. It can also be the messiest looking time in a garden.
The challenges of shield beetles is still with us in early Autumn. We can keep using a garlic spray to deter bugs. Once the nights start cooling the bugs will go into hibernation mode. Note to myself to plant more cleome and mustard next year as a catch crop for shield beetles. The bugs congregate on the flowering cleome and mustard and are easy to collect.
Garlic Gardening Spray
Use this simple garlic repellent to deter garden pests like aphids and slugs. It can also help eliminate powdery mildew on foliage.
1. Peel the cloves from a whole head of garlic and put in a food processor or blender with 235 ml of water. Purée the mixture (this takes about a minute in a regular food processor). Alternatively, chop or crush the cloves as finely as you can by hand and mix well with the water.
2. Add a further 700 ml of water to the mix, along with 30 ml of any liquid soap. Blend again and then transfer to a clean jar.
3. Leave the mixture to steep overnight, or for at least 12 hours, so that the garlic can infuse the liquid with its potent sulphur compounds.
4. Once the mixture has had time to steep, strain it through a muslin cloth or fine mesh strainer to remove the solid garlic pieces (which would otherwise clog the nozzle on your spray bottle).
5. Pour the garlic-infused liquid into a reusable spray bottle and store in the fridge between uses.
6. Spritz plants in the evening, holding the spray about 15-30 cm away from the foliage, and cover both sides of the leaves with an even coating of the garlic pesticide spray. Reapply every few days (and after any rainfall) when your plants are suffering with an infestation, or once a week as a deterrent.
Planning Your Winter Garden
Siverbeet and kale should keep producing.
The aim is to have a continuous supply of vegetables so read the growing times on seed packets. While saying that, I like to include plants which will keep producing for longer such as silverbeet, kale and broccoli or those which mature at differing rates and will last in the ground such as carrots and beetroot. Celery is great too when you just remove sticks as required.
Prepare your garden beds by removing unwanted plants, pulling back mulch and forking in compost and your choice of manure/fertilizer.
Your soil must be moist and not dense so if it is still too dry wait for rain or be prepared to water thoroughly before planting then regularly after that.
Plant in deciduous shady areas first if the sun is still too intense.
Gross feeders such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage silverbeet, kale and asian greens love lots of compost and manure.
Spinach, turnip, beetroot, celery, spring onions or multiplying onions, parsley, salad greens and coriander all grow well in our northland winter.
Broadbeans are great to plant as they are nitrogen fixers. They need stakes and space.