Keen vege grower? Here is the list of 5 things to tackle in your home vegetable patch for late February in NZ.
1. Plant lettuce (or raise your own from seed). If you love salads, you should definitely grow your own. It’s easy to grow and can save you wads of cash. There’s no need to pay $4 for a bag of salad greens that will go off in your fridge after a couple of days. A packet of seeds, which costs less than $4, will keep you supplied with lettuce for most for the year. If you prefer not to pull out whole plants when you fancy eating lettuce, try growing non-hearting varieties, or cut-and-come-again types. Harvest the outer leaves daily and the plant will continue to grow. Lettuce grows and matures quickly, so plant a punnet of seedlings every couple of weeks (or raise your own from seed). Lettuces need regular watering. They have a shallow root system, so they can’t seek out moisture deep in the soil as readily as other vegetables. And if they dry out too much they’ll taste bitter or bolt straight to seed. Grow in a spot that receives a little afternoon shade, water regularly (early morning or evening) and feed with liquid fertiliser every week to keep the leaves tasting sweet and super crunchy.
2. Thin carrot seedlings. If your carrots are packed in tightly, pick out a few to give the rest room to swell. Crowded carrots are often undersized and distorted. Thin carrots when seedlings reach around 5cm in height, leaving at least 2cm between each remaining plant. Repeat in a few weeks time if necessary. Carrot seed can be bought in ‘seed tape’ form, where the seeds have been pre-spaced and sealed inside a soft paper strip. Just tear off the length you need, bury it 1cm deep in soil, then water lightly. The seedlings emerge spaced at just the right distance and you won’t have to worry about thinning. Seed tapes are available from garden centres and hardware stores. .
3. Sow ‘Tatsoi’ cabbage. This hardy hybrid Chinese cabbage is a great vege to grow over the cooler autumn months. It takes up very little space and is a great alternative to regular cabbage. It’s also a great choice for small households. Tatsoi doesn’t form a head so the outer leaves can be picked as needed. Stir fry, steam or shred and add raw to salads. It’s a versatile crop that’s harvestable from around 40 days from planting out.
4. Plant herbs. Sage, thyme, parsley and chives can all be planted now. Buy individual plants from your garden centre or grab a few packets of seed and a bag of seed-raising mix, and sow your own. Herbs can take 2-3 weeks to germinate, but if you’re wanting lots of plants, this is the cheapest option. Warmth, patience and a regular light misting with water will reward your efforts with loads of plants.
5. Gardening by the moon? Saturday and Sunday are the days to get stuck in to ridding your vege patch of weeds. The full moon falls this Monday, so don’t be tempted to sow anything for the two days following. Root crops can be sown on Thursday and Friday next week.