THE VEGE FILES
Of all the plants in our fantastic five, these will need the most attention but there’s
nothing like a sun-ripened, freshly picked tomato out of the garden. Tomatoes are split
into two groups: determinate and indeterminate varieties. Most tomatoes grown in
tunnel/glass houses are indeterminate varieties which need staking and keep fruiting
through the season. Those grown outside are often the bush determinate style which
tend to produce tomatoes all at the same time and need minimal support.
Sow seeds indoors early, because you want your tomato plants to be a good size
before they go into the garden. Prep the ground with lots and lots of compost. Big
feeders = big crops!
Lettuces are easy to grow. They are so delicious and sweet straight from the garden
that your salads will taste better than ever, plus you can save a lot of money if you
eat them regularly.
There is a huge variety of lettuces and mesculin mixes, some of which do better at different
times of year depending on light, heat and moisture levels. Lettuces can cope
with light frosts so are ideal for early spring growing.
There are a wonderful array of beans you can grow from runner beans to dwarf beans
and through to broad beans. Heritage varieties have names which make you want to
grow them like Devil’s Defiance and Grandparent’s Takamatua Black!
Beans should be sowed in the ground toward the end of October, or sowed into pots
at the beginning of October (these planting times do not apply to broad beans which
can be traditionally sown on Anzac day). Bush (dwarf) beans should be planted 30cm
apart, and sown more often as they often will crop all at once. A pole bean (runners
or climbers) will give a more continuous supply.
Carrots don’t want to be grown in your richest, most composted garden bed. They
will often do well following another crop without composting the bed again. At the
same time, they won’t grow well in hard packed dry soils lacking in organic matter. If
you have some leaf mould, fork this in generously. Failing this a light sprinkle of compost
on the bed will help keep this soil functioning.
Consider sowing a green manure like lupins at the same time. Sow in between the
rows, and cut back the lupins back hard and drop the top on the soil. Keep doing all
season long. You’re fixing nitrogen for the next crop and encouraging biological activity,
plus the mulch will slowdown water loss.
Soil temperature needs to be above 15 C for carrots. In early spring, raised beds will
warm up earlier than traditional beds. Using a large cloche for a week prior to sowing
will help warm the ground.
grow, almost impossible to kill and if it goes to seed, you’ll get hundreds of self-sown
(free) seedlings to transplant. To harvest, cut off some of the bigger leaves at the base
of the plant. Like magic it keeps growing more.
This is a fantastic plant to feed your family some green goodness, especially during
the winter when there’s nothing much else growing in the garden.