February is usually a rather hot and often unpleasant time of year for gardening. Try to water early in the morning or in the evenings to ensure that your plants can gain the maximum benefit from each precious drop. Deeper watering, less often is also the maxim of gardeners at this time of year.
Take advantage of any cooler days to keep the weeds under control and to top up the mulch layers on your garden beds.
PLANT: Seedlings of broccoli, Brussels sprouts, winter cabbage, kale, cauliflower, celery, leek, lettuce, silverbeet and spring onion.
SOW: Beans, broccoli, beetroot, carrot, cabbage, cauliflower, late Brussels sprouts, leek, lettuce, turnip, beetroot, Chinese brassicas, Asian roots, parsnip, and silver beet.
Vegetables such as beetroot, carrots, lettuces and turnips are best sown successionally to ensure a regular, manageable supply
The to-do list
• Water and weed your garden as required. Pick crops regularly – especially beans, zucchinis and cucubers
• Enrich soils with lime and organic matter before sowing broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and Brussel sprout seedlings. They are very hungry plants. Feed fortnightly with liquid manure or worm juice as they are growing.
• Lettuces must be grown quickly to stay crisp and juicy. Feed with liquid manure every 10-14 days.
• Pick silverbeet regularly leaving 4-5 leaves at the centre for quick regrowth.
• Pinch out the growing tips of runner beans once they reach the top of their support. Pick beans regularly.
• Thin vegetables sown earlier before they are large enough to compete with each other.
• Continue to tie up tomatoes to their stakes as they grow. Dust regularly with sulphur powder to prevent whitefly and other pests.
• Harvest herbs regularly. Don’t let the leaves get too old. Excess leaves of basil, coriander etc. can be chopped, placed in ice-cube trays, covered with water, frozen and then transferred to plastic bags or other containers for a ready supply over winter,
• Lift garlic, shallots, onions etc. and hang to dry, out of the sunlight, before storing.
• Thin apples, persimmons etc.
• Tidy up summer-flowering strawberries that have finished fruiting. Cut off old leaves and unwanted runners, control weeds, feed and top up mulch
• Top up existing mulches that have rotted down over the past months.
If you adore the taste of fresh peaches or nectarines, now is the time to start thinking about planting new peach trees so that you can enjoy this delicious fruit straight from your own garden.
Peaches, like most stone fruits, require an open sunny position with well drained soil which contains plenty of organic matter. A fruit tree is in its position for a long time, so careful preparation of the spot will pay big dividends in the future.
Select a suitable spot for your new tree
Kill any perennial weeds (such as sorrel or kykua) by covering the area with black plastic or corrugated iron for 2-3 weeks. At this time of year, the heat generated by the sun under this covering will destroy these weeds.
Mix in some compost and manure, and then cover the area with mulch.
Keep the area moist until ready to plant in June/July. Remember to keep the mulch away from the tree-trunk once it is planted.
Peaches are self-pollinating, which means that you only need one tree for successful cropping, and they’re pretty trees that are worth growing for their spring show of blossom alone.
Winter pruning should open up the centre, remove crowded branches and weak stems, and encourage new growth. Keep tuned to this newsletter for news of our winter pruning field day.
Peach trees will need to be sprayed with lime-sulphur when dormant to prevent leaf-curl and fungal diseases in the growing season. Planting garlic under the tree will also help prevent diseases.