Here are some of the wisdoms I’ve acquired this year. Some are specific to cooler areas and some are blatantly lazy.
Top 5 tips:
1. Bury tomatoes up to and including first set of leaves. My long-time gardening babushka (Russian for grandma) told me to do this. And you do not doubt your babushka! I've heard of people burying tomatoes up to the first set of leaves, but my babushka recons the leaves should be in too. I have actually tested this and, to my amazement, the tomato which was buried grew three times the size.
2. Plan a few weeks ahead and make a list of vegie garden jobs. When I do not make a list of the exact tasks that need to be done I tend to just hang out in the vegie garden and do small unimportant tasks that take up the time, instead of the important ones.
3. Sow cucurbits into 7-10cm pots with good garden soil, not into tiny seed raising punnets with seed raising mix. The plants emerge quite large and have to be transplanted from the seed raising punnet after just 1 week, as they run out of nutrients. From now on, I’m planting these babies straight into proper soil in larger pots. I can’t direct sow here in the South as the season won’t be long enough.
4. Label every punnet/pot and mark rows where something has been sown. I’ve ended up with a few ‘mystery’ plants. And I am sure I've sown and topped up a couple of rows last weekend, but with which seeds? And, frankly, which rows? At the time I always think I'll rememeber, but I never do. Time to start labeling EVERYTHING.
5. When in doubt as to whether your region is warm enough for a plant, just plant it and see. Try to select a short season, quick maturing variety though. Despite multiple warnings from friends, my lemon and lime trees are quite happy outside, in Dunedin. Whether my melon plants will produce anything here is another question, but babushka said if she could grow them in Siberia during the cold summer of 1971, I should be able to in Dunedin :)
PS The photo is of my tomatoes, pumpkins and zucchinis, ready to be planted out during the next few weeks, a couple of ‘mystery’ varieties among them. If you know how to tell kamokamo and zucchini apart at a seedling stage let me know!