May in your edible garden
Here in Central Otago we have had our first very hard frost. If you have too, you will notice how very quickly some of those summer plants that were in abundance have come to a screaming halt overnight and are wilting away before our eyes.
Due to the cooler temperatures, we are starting to move now into using the harder leafy greens such as spinach, kale and the family of chards in our house for cooking - perfect match really for the slow food type of cooking we innately move towards as it gets cooler.
Autumn is in full swing and there are now more leaves that have fallen than still on the trees, and it’s a perfect time to prepare your garden to sleep for the winter.
In this issue:
- Mulch – my greatest love, for many reasons!
- Garlic – top tip for great garlic
- Strawberry runners – a simple gift idea from your strawberry plant
Mulch – my greatest love!
I love my family, I love my naughty (but divine) black labs but quite honestly at this time of year my greatest love is mulch.
Spreading mulch over the gardens helps to keep the soil temperature warmer, which means you can get growth in your edible plants for longer. Another major win of covering your soil with mulch is that it suppresses weeds! At the best of times weeding isn’t a crowd favourite, let alone in the depths of winter.
My favourite type of mulch is lucerne. It’s self-composting, helps hold the moisture in the ground, increases soil nitrogen, provides lovely minerals to the soil and feeds the worms. It is also heavier than its counterpart pea straw, which lessens the chance of it being blown away by the strong nor ‘west winds we get here.
If you have a farmer friend nearby, give them a call and see if you can buy some of their lucerne. Hiatt & Co Top Tip - order a little extra so you have some on hand during the year, as its brilliant to add to your compost. It’s absolute goodness and plays a huge part in helping create healthy, scrumptious soil. Who would‘ve thought I’d find myself so eagerly awaiting the delivery of my trusty lucerne!
Garlic – Top tip
Although the saying goes plant on the shortest day and harvest on the longest day, if you live in a cooler mountain area or in temperate climates, you can start to plant your garlic now. (Just hold off a little longer if you are in the upper north.)
Make sure that when you plant your garlic, you plant it in really scrummy soil, filled with nutrients and goodies. To help create this, add some compost to the soil if you can and make sure you plant it in a well-draining area, and not in the same spot as last year.
Give it a go if you have never grown it before! It’s terribly exciting harvesting it, plaiting it and hanging it up in summer. Oh and did I mention you can wave goodbye with pride to the imported garlic you find in the supermarket and hello to your own? Happiness!
Strawberry Runners – Simple gift idea
Have you got your own strawberry plants? Have you noticed they start extending themselves big time in all directions and into parts of the garden they weren’t invited to? These extension are called “runners” and along them you will often find a daughter plant dangling.
Every few years, it’s a good idea to cut the runners off the mother plant as they take unnecessary energy to grow. By doing so you get new strawberry plants – win-win!
To grow the daughter plant, all you need to do is cut the wee plant from the mother plant runner, and pop it in some good soil (enriched with goodies such as compost) in another part of the garden.
Hiatt & Co Top Tip. I love to grow them in a groovy wee vessel that I find or repurpose, such as an old wooden box, and grow them to give away as presents.
Until next month