The first quarter of this year has been a strange one for me. Firstly, all of the unsettling storms and bad weather. Even though we got off lightly, it was still disconcerting and it was hard to focus on anything other than the weather reports, and to be fair it wasn’t gardening weather.
And then once it settled down, I was off with not one but two overseas trips. We’ve just got back from a week at sea. Which was nice, but it was mostly at sea. We left from Adelaide, which was exciting to need our passports to travel and in the 18 hours we were there I dragged Hubby the Un-Gardener to Adelaide Botanic Gardens.
I wish we had more time as there was so much to see but we had to catch a cruise ship at midday. Then we sailed off to NZ where our only stop was Dunedin. So of course I dragged Hubby the Un-Gardener to the Dunedin Botanic Gardens for more garden inspiration to offset all of the days bobbing about in the ocean.
The great thing about botanic gardens is all the plants have labels so you find out exactly what it is that has caught your eye, but also see how things grow so you can work out if it is right for you.
Not long after I purchased a lemon verbena plant from the herb section of the garden centre in one of those small blue pots, intending to put it in my herb garden, I visited the Auckland Botanic Gardens and they had one there that was a full grown tree! That wouldn’t have worked for my small herb garden so it is currently in a container and gets repotted into something bigger each year.
We passed the autumnal equinox on Tuesday so we are well and truly in autumn now, although I’d given up on summer weeks ago. So we are at the stage now where we are limping along tired plants hoping to get a last few harvest from the and waiting for that first frost that could be imminent or ages away depending on what nature decides to do.
As crops succumb, leaving behind a gap in the garden, if you aren’t intending on growing winter crops, consider sowing a cover crop. Mustard is a great one as it has biofumigant properties and can help clean up the soil if you have had diseases show up in the garden.
Although to avoid the risk of Club Root Disease, mustard is a brassica so avoid using it where you have previously had any brassica or intend to plant brassica in the following season.
Lupin is a good cover crop to inject a nitrogen boost to the soil and is helpful after a heavy feeding crop like sweetcorn, to help put back plenty of good organic material into the soil, to replace what was used.
Cover crops also help store nutrients in the plants so they can’t get washed out of the soil with winter rain, help supress weeds and give the garden winter interest, so well worth giving it a go.
I won’t be going anywhere for a while so I am looking forward to getting into a good routine – weather permitting, and slowly clearing away all trace of summer and getting my garden ready for the winter.
Let us know if you grow cover crops and in the meantime keep us updated with what is going on in your gardens. We love reading about what you are up to. And as always – if you want to get in touch leave a comment below.
Sarah the Gardener : o)