With the new year and associated new beginnings, numerous crops will be ready to harvest. If time and inclination permit, there are also a few routine jobs to do in the garden.
If you go away on holiday, organise someone to tend to and water your vegetables and herbs while you are away. Without attention, your crops will suffer and all your hard work will end up going to waste.
- Tomatoes: plants will be growing vigorously now and more fruit sets will be appearing. Fruit will be ripening from now until late autumn. For the best flavour, leave the fruit to ripen on the plant. Birds enjoy tomatoes too - bird netting may be required to protect the ripening tomatoes. Continue staking tomatoes, keep pinching out new laterals that appear and keep plants well watered.
- Onions and garlic: these are traditionally harvested within a month or so of the longest day. The leaves of both onions and garlic will tell you when they are ready to be harvested: the tops will begin to wither and die down. Harvest by digging up the plants with a fork, knock off the excess soil, and leave to dry in the sun for a number of days until the skin resmbles paper. Store in a well-ventilated, dry place.
- Potatoes: for main crops still in the ground, mole up soil around the leaves to encourage more tubers and to keep the sun off them. A side-dressing of potato fertiliser will increase vigour. Don't be tempted to put grass clippings around potatoes as this can encourage pests and diseases and heat up the soil too much as the grass clippings begin to rot.
- Adding Debco SaturAid to your vegetable garden will reduce water use by up to 50 per cent. SaturAid draws water into the soil and directly to the root zone, reducing run-off and waste.
- Mulch long-serving summer vegetables with Tui Pea Straw Mulch.
- Move plants in pots out of the midday sun, if you can. To revive dehydrated plants put the whole pot in a bucket of water and soak overnight.
- Dwarf French beans, beetroot, broccoli, cabbages, carrots, cauliflowers, celery, chervil, lettuces, leeks, mesclun, parsnips, radishes, rocket, spinach, silverbeet, swedes.
- Dwarf beans, Brussels sprouts, celery, courgettes, eggplants, lettuces, leeks, peas, potatoes, pumpkins, silverbeet, spinach.
- Feed established plants once a month with Seasol plant tonic. Some fast-growing crops, including pumpkins and melons, can be fed every two weeks.
- Mildew can be a problem on cucumbers and courgettes; spray with Tui Eco-Fungicide to control it. Lay Tui Quash slug & snail control to control these pests, and spray aphids and whitefly with Tui Eco-Pest if they are still a problem. Dust brassicas with derris dust to combat white butterfly caterpillars.
- Globe artichokes, beans, beetroot, capsicums, chillies, courgettes, cucumbers, eggplants, garlic, lettuces, onions, shallots, tomatoes.
Regional variaton: remember that there will be differences between crop timings depending on where you live, and the variety of vegetable grown. Always factor in climatic differences when sowing, planting and harvesting.