October NZ Gardeners Tips
October NZ Gardeners Tips
New growth and flowers blooming in abundance. Deciduous trees are in various stages of blooming and fruit set. Spring annuals and perennials are putting on their show. It’s the busiest time of the year for most gardeners. Daylight saving has started so you can do a bit of gardening in the evenings. The weather’s often got the four seasons in a day extremes, with the risk of late frosts in many areas.
Tasks For This Month
Your plans for this growing season should be finalised by now and it’s time for implementation.
Work out which parts of your plans you can do and which parts you may need a professional landscaper for. We’ve probably all seen those “do it yourself” gardens that are really a waste of time and money, because the only person who thinks it’s a good job are the people who did it, and often they’re seeking reassurance! If you’re going to employ a professional and want the job finished before Christmas then it’s best to get started soon, because there is always a pre-Christmas rush, when landscapers get over loaded with work.
Slug and snail – Populations tend to build up over winter with the wet weather that suits them, so it’s a god time to have a clean up of them with baits and/or traps. Remembering that some baits are poisonous to birds and animals, so need to be located safely, such as under a cover. There are slug and snail baits that are not poisonous to animals and birds but they are more expensive.
Ants – Can be a problem especially in northern districts, so consider placing baits under the house and/or in places sheltered from the rain near ground level, to get them before they move into your walls and other building cavities.
Perennials – Finish planting your trees, shrubs an other perennials as soon as possible, so they make the most of the growing season to spread their roots out, before the dry weather starts to stress them.
Get rid of all the weeds before they go to seed, and you have years of weeding to get rid of the germinating seeds.
Remove anything that is going to seed unless you’re wanting to keep the seed. You do need to bear in mind that you can get issues with cross pollination of similar varieties, with collecting your own seeds. For example had both curly leaf and Italian flat leaf parsley, that I let self seed, and then I got a variety of parsley that has narrow flat leaves that I consider inferior, and I’m having to weed out and replace.
If you want to test your soil Ph, it’s a good time to do it now. Then if any lime is needed it can be applied before the main planting time. Prepare your vege beds by spreading compost and fertiliser over the surface. I prefer organic fertilisers such as animal manures. Some people prefer using no dig vege gardening methods. I prefer to dig, so the compost and fertiliser is worked into the main root zone. I’ve also found if you have trees in the vicinity their roots will often take over your vege garden, so chopping through them with your spade, while their small is best.
Now you’ve got the soil sorted plant your main season vegetable crops. If you are in a frost prone area, you may want to consider using a plant covering such as a cloche. Or even just using a clear plastic container such as a drink bottle with the bottom cut off, with the top removed so there’s some ventilation, to protect your frost sensitive plants. This can be removed when danger of frost has gone.
I usually start my vege planting season with punnets of small seedlings, because it gives you a two to three weeks head start from sowing seeds. Then later in the season I make a successive sowing of seeds to replace harvested crops. This gives you a continuous harvest over the growing season. Generally I find direct sown seeds give you the strongest plants because there’s no transplanting damage done. The main mistake I’ve noticed with seed sowing is to sow seeds too close together, resulting in more labour required to thin out later and damage to small plants with the thinning process. So when sowing bear in mind the size of the mature plant and allow sufficient space, while allowing for some seeds not germinating.
Veges to plant or sow –
Beans (both climbing and dwarf), beetroot, brocoli, cabbage, cape gooseberry, capsicum, carrots, celery, chicory, Chinese cabbage, choko, cress, cucumber, eggplant, endive, kohl rabi, kumara, leeks, lettuce, marrows, okra, peas, marrows, melon, mustard, spring onions, parsnip, pepper, potato tubers, pumpkin, radish, rhubarb (both seed or crowns), salsify, silver beet, squash, spinach, sweet corn, tomato, swede, turnip.
Beans, cucumbers, pumpkins, and melons require minimum germination temperatures of 15C, the optimum germination temperature is 24C. So be patient and wait until temperatures are suitable.
Frost resistant herbs can be in warm districts. Chives, chervil, dill, parsley, rocket, sweet basil.
Pip and Stone Fruit –
Grafting- If you want to graft your pip or stone fruit trees, take scion wood, generally small twigs up to pencil thickness. Wrap them in plastic and store them in the fridge until late September- early October when they can be grafted onto the rootstock, or larger trees.
Most citrus are reaching maturity and ready for harvesting when little or no green is visible on the skin. Although Tangelos increase sweetness if left a bit longer.
It’s best not to leave the fruit on the tree too long, as the tree will take the moisture back out of the fruit leaving it tasting dry. Leaving the citrus fruit on too long also reduces flowering and results in a lighter crop next season.
Berry fruits –
Time to fertilise your berry fruits.
Raspberries, blackberries, boysenberries, and loganberries. May need support for new growth, such as a trellis or wire mesh. I don’t like using plastic mesh because it breaks down in the sun and becomes brittle and breaks.
Goose berries and Blackcurrants– Pruning should be finished by now.
Strawberries – Plant them now and keep in mind the berries will need protection from birds and snails and slugs. The birds protection usually consists of netting held in place by a frame.
Green Houses/Glass houses
Remove any dead matter, weed and apply compost, and dig in if needed. Plant tomatoes, peppers, cucumber, eggplant, marrow, melon, and any other veges you want.
Pot and Container Grown Plants
Remove dead leaves and dust with a damp cloth or spray. Re-pot in to a larger pot with fresh potting mix if they appear to be root bound.
Give them some slow release fertiliser and kill any insects on them.
Spray with a combination of copper oxychloride and spraying oil.
Mulch with compost, around root zone, but keep it off the crown.
Remove weeds and apply snail and slug control measures to reduce any winter population build up.
Sow seeds of: ageratum, alyssum, amaranthus, aster, balsam, bedding begonia, Californian poppy, carnation, celosia, chrysanthemum, cockscomb, coleus, Cleome, cosmos, dahlia (seed), delphinium, dianthus, everlasting daisy, galardia, gazania, geranium, gerbera, gloxinia, gypsophila, honesty, impatiens, kochia, marigold, mignonette, nastutium, nemesia, ornamental chilli, petunia, phlox, portulaca, rudbeckia, salvia, snapdragon, spider flower, statice, straw flower, sunflower, Swan River daisy, verbena, viscaria, and zinnia.
Plant seedlings of: alyssum, aquilegia, canterbury bells, carnations, cornflower, cosmos, cineraria, delphinium, pansies, polyanthus, poppy, gypsophila, hollyhock, stock, and viola .
Lift and divide and replant clumps of perennials.
Plant dahlia and begonia tubers.
Trees and Shrubs
Plant any new trees and shrubs now before the growing season really gets going.
Mow regularly at least fortnightly, to keep a dense swath of grass. Don’t cut too low. The grass should be between 20 to 25 mm after you’ve cut it. If you’ve got a lot of weeds, now is a good time to eradicate them, and if needed sow new grass seed to fill any empty patches.
Heaps that consist of predominantly unrecognisable matter are ready to be spread around planted areas as a mulch, or for digging in when soil conditions are dry enough.
Make new compost heaps by incorporating grass clippings, dead leaves, vegetable scraps with a sprinkling of lime and animal manure etc. Turn and mix existing compost heaps that haven’t decomposed sufficiently.