Seed saving

Save seed from beans and peas and put some of your fattest and healthiest cloves of garlic to one side for re-planting later on. Allow a few of your herb plants to flower and set seed and you’ll have free seedlings already scattered about in your beds by next spring. Seed from coriander, dill, fennel and parsley can be saved for cooking as well as for re-stocking beds and containers.  Remove spent flower heads on calendula, marigold, zinnias, poppies etc. Dry flower heads and seed pods before storing seed in paper bags or envelopes and stored in a fridge or stashed in a dry room for spring (remember to label clearly).


WATCH POD TV: Seed Saving

Asparagus care

Weed your asparagus bed carefully by hand and only use the smallest of tools like a niwashi or a trowel – you don’t want to damage the shallow, surface roots of those delicate crowns. If the stems that were left to grow into ferns have turned yellow and started to die back you can cut them down to ground level. Then feed your plants with a thick rich layer of well-rotted manure, compost and seaweed – whatever you have to hand. This will nourish the crowns as they bed down for winter and draw nutrients back into them over the coming months so they are ready to produce a whole new crop of succulent shoots in spring.

 WATCH POD TV: How to grow Asparagus - bedding down for winter

 



Plant Protection

Thin out bed-sown seedlings such as carrots, spinach, lettuce and turnip as necessary. Its best to thin whilst seedlings are still small to avoid disturbing the soil around seedlings that you intend to allow to grow on.

 

Mound soil around the base of your leeks to keep them pale and sweet. Keep soil beneath the bottom leaf so it doesn’t get inside the stems and make cleaning them difficult. Another way of doing this is to lower toilet roll centres down onto the bottom of the stems before mounding up the soil.

Protect young seedlings from wind and heavy rain – as well as slugs and snails – with plastic juice bottle cloches. Seeds sown in beds are especially vulnerable right now – so wear a head torch after dark and patrol your garden with a pair of tweezers – an easy way to spot and remove slugs and snails.

It can pay to sow most of your plants into trays or punnets and then plant out when seedlings have at least a couple of pairs of leaves. This should give them a better chance of standing up to any harsh weather and slug/snail attack.



Plant Food and Drink

Mulch soil between plants to suppress weeds. Using a mixture of rotted manure, pea straw, straw, shredded newspaper lawn trimmings compost etc., spread a layer of mulch on any bare soil alongside rows or in between plants to about a finger’s depth. This will feed the microbiology of the soil - worms, bugs, centipedes and smaller organisms – that in turn breaks down nutrients and makes them available to plants.

Beds that are cleared and prepared for future planting can also benefit from an application of lime which is a real benefit to many of the leaf crops – spinach, cabbage, spinach, kale, broccoli and silverbeet - you’ll be planting over the coming months.

 

Turnyour compost over every few weeks to encourage decomposition. Place an insulating layer of old carpet, folded tarpaulin or empty compost bags on the top to help keep the temperature of your heap warm.

 

Feed citrus, fruit trees and bushes with a rich layer of compost, sheep pellets, well-rotted manure, dolomite, seaweed, straw – whatever you have to hand spread as a mulching layer around their roots.



Soil Care

Feed soil in beds with a scattering of blood and bone meal – about three handfuls for every square that is a stride by a stride, or square metre. You can also give soil a dusting in between rows of seedlings and maturing plants. Once you’ve applied the bone meal simply rake into the top layer of soil and cover with a layer of mulch. This slow-release fertilliser will sustain the growth of seedlings and maturing plants for up to 4 months.

Lay boards on beds if you need to gain access, this will spread your   load and stop soaked soils from being compacted.

In cooler areas keep soil warm for plantings over the next few months by laying some polythene sheeting, old carpet, unfolded cardboard boxes or empty compost bags (if beds are small). Anchor with a few boards, logs or bricks to stop sheets blowing away. This insulating layer will also help to prevent soil from becoming water-logged.

Mulch soil between plants to suppress weeds. Using a mixture of rotted manure, pea straw, straw, shredded newspaper lawn trimmings compost etc., spread a layer of mulch on any bare soil alongside rows or in between plants to about a finger’s depth. This will feed the microbiology of the soil -  worms, bugs, centipedes and smaller organisms – that in turn breaks down nutrients and makes them available to plants.

Livestock

Chickens will start to lay less as the days become shorter. Keep chicken enclosures from becoming muddy during wet weather with regular applications of fresh woodchips or pine needles. Put a shelter in your chicken enclosure – somewhere for the birds to gather during heavy rainfall. Check your coop to see there are no leaks. Chickens may start to molt as their plumage starts to re-fill.

Bees

Check your hives are weather proof. Put up wind breaks if necessary (not in flight path) and insulate hives where heavy frosts are a frequent winter event. Put in varroa strips is you haven’t already. Wasps are ferocious in their desire for protein right now and they can be seen taking bees down at hive entries and dismembering them before flying off with their haul. Make a concerted effort to locate any nests and deal with them before new queens leave to mate and then hibernate until spring. Each queen that gets away is another nest in your vicinity.