What to Grow in May
Autumn is in full swing and it’s that time of year to get those heavy duty plants that sustain themselves through winter! All those wonderful brassicas, the broccoli’s, cabbages, kales, along with silverbeet, spinach, onions, peas, broad beans, swedes and turnips in the south island as these two need to have the cold weather to make them thrive! Don't forget carrots, leeks, beetroot, kohlrabi and celeriac.
Saying all this, we have had a remarkable warm autumn so far, which will give these plants a good start but as temperatures drop, the growth of these plants will slow down but at least that means fewer pests around to cause problems!
Whilst the likes of Lettuce is a spring/summer planting, many do so much better in autumn and winter especially the red leafed varieties. Not really sure why, except the extreme heat of summer plays it part and red lettuces are high antioxidants, so good for our bodies especially when we might need a little support during those winter months.
Also Rocket seems to like the cooler temperatures of autumn and winter, especially in my garden and I don’t have to take too much care of it, unlike in summer when it needs lots of water and I am constantly trying to stop it going to seed. In winter it seems so much more settled and grows very nicely.
All of these salad greens can be grown in pots near the house so you don’t have to go too far in the depths of winter to retrieve. Also having them in pots will keep the soil warmer than in open beds, so a win win!
Silverbeet is a good winter stalwart and seems to survive the hardest of conditions. It is not always seen as the most desirable of vegetables but if the leaves are picked while they are still young and tender they are wonderful. They take up flavour well so stir fry them with garlic and ginger or cumin is a great spice which compliments many vegetables, or even some sliced up chilli’s you have grown all summer. Spinach can be treated exactly the same.
Those of us that grow citrus trees in the south island, it is time to take a bit of extra care. I take mine which are growing in very large pots into the greenhouse for protection over the cold months and even cover them on very cold frosty nights. If you don’t have frost cloth you can use an old sheet to wrap round them, or newspaper attached to the branches or even some old sacking, just make sure it's not too heavy and will cause damage to the trees.
Talking of trees, it’s time to tidy up all those leaves, don’t burn them put them in the compost, make a leaf pile and by spring they will be turning into leaf mould which you can put on the garden, or use them as mulch they have goodness in them and should not be wasted.
Liquid Copper can be sprayed on stone and pip fruit at this time of year. It should help prevent leaf curl and black spots next season. Another application can be done in early spring. Make sure all leaves and dead fruit are cleared away so as not to give a breeding ground for bad bugs.