This weekend is a lovely long weekend – not only is it the long-awaited planting out weekend, but it is also my birthday day. It seems I was born on the right day for who I have become!
This week I have been attempting to harden off my seedlings, although yesterday the wind was just a little too strong for my liking, so the plants stayed in the greenhouse and that is ok. And any temptation to sneakily plant things early was thwarted by those overnight lows that were in the single digits. The extended forecast beyond Labour Weekend looks a little more settled going forward, but I have to trust it as I won’t be in the garden for these crucial formative weeks.
I have decided I will leave a full set of spares under the care of Hubby the Un-Gardener so if something does go wrong in the garden I can replant when I get home. The biggest risks are the wind whips up again or Brian the Possum. I did get some traps for Brian but alas we have had no luck yet, but I can’t delay planting out for any longer and I fear I am just providing him with a smorgasbord.
But my dramas aside – if you are planting out this weekend here are some tips to help you out:
· For those of you in the south you may want to wait until Canterbury Show Day on Nov 11. Don’t worry if you think it will be putting you behind – it won’t be, gardening isn’t a race, and your plants will appreciate the extra time for it to warm up in your area.
· If your plants are too small or your garden isn’t ready or the weather doesn’t look great, it is ok to wait until they are bigger, or it is ready, or the weather is nicer. This will give you a better result than rushing things. I will be leaving my Okra in the greenhouse. It is a good size, but experience has told me it likes it really warm, or the leaves drop off, so when I get back will be fine.
· Most of you are on to this but before planting anything, put in the effort to make sure the soil is as weed free as possible, or you’ll be fighting them all season.
· If you made a planting plan then try to stick to it as best as you can when planting out, no matter how tempting it is to squeeze in extra plants. If you haven’t it isn’t too late to make one, or at the very least check seed packets and seedling labels for the correct planting distances, seedlings may look silly in the middle of the garden with all that bare earth around them, but some can grow rather large. If they are too close to their neighbours they will have to compete for light and space and neither of them will do as well as they could.
· If you need more space then dig up more space or use containers. A bucket with holes in the bottom or even a black sack with holes poked in it will work – it won’t be pretty, but it will work!
· Yates Thrive Natural Seaweed to help reduce transplant shock and promote healthy root growth so either soak seedlings before planting or water with it after. This is my ‘go to’ product for this stage of the gardening calendar.
· Protect your seedlings from slugs and snails or you may wake up the next morning to find nothing left of your seedlings except a silvery trail. Birds may also be interested in the tender tips of lettuce and other young plants, and then there are small children, cats, dogs and size 11 boots who up until last week were able to go freely across the garden without doing any harm!
· Keep a close eye on the weather forecast so any rogue weather doesn’t take you by surprise and have frost cloth at the ready! There have been killing frosts in Nov before – I had one in my old garden and I’m just south of Auckland! This was the lesson that taught me to keep my spares!
And finally – look after you. It doesn’t all need to be done this weekend. It is the starters whistle and this is a marathon, we’re in it for the long haul so pace yourself. (Although it isn’t a race so don’t compare yourself to anyone else.) Stay hydrated, use sunscreen, rest often and take the time to notice what you are achieving. Change happens quickly at this time of the season.
Have a safe and fun long weekend.
Happy gardening and as always – if you want to get in touch leave a comment below.
Sarah the Gardener : o)