Did you know that there are still plenty of seeds that can be sown at this time of the year to achieve a late summer/autumn harvest? We get a lot of enquiries after the big holiday break about what seeds can be planted now. Many of our customers assume they are too late to sow seed but there are actually quite a few things that can still be sown, especially if you are in the warmer parts of the country.
We generally recommend late summer planting for all regions except those that experience temperature extremes. This would be the more southern regions and some inland regions.
Due to night temperatures being up at the moment and day length still being long enough, everything grows rapidly. Watering is paramount, because new growth is dependent on consistent moisture levels, so ensure you allow for the very dry conditions at this time of the year. Wind protection for your plants is also a necessity.
Northland, Bay of Plenty, Coromandel, East Cape, Malborough and Nelson regions experience the highest sunshine hours, so go for it if you are in these areas. Here is a mapped indication of sunshine hours for the whole of New Zealand.
We consider that New Zealand can be broken into three broad climate zones. Warm summers are experienced in all zones but the differences kick in come winter time:
- Northern Subtropical Zone – mild winters with the odd frost. Area: From Whakatane and Coastal Bay of Plenty west to Waiuku, and all areas north of this line.
- Coastal Temperate Zone – cool wet winters and frost occasionally. Area: The rest of the North Island, excluding the Central Plateau, Mount Taranaki and inland mountain ranges. All of the South Island, excluding Southern Lakes, inland Canterbury, Otago and Fiordland.
- Southern Inland and Mountain Zone – cold winters with regular frosts. Are: Central Plateau, Mount Taranaki and inland mountain ranges. Southern Lakes, inland Canterbury, Otago and Fiordland.
As well as considering where in New Zealand, and therefore in which climate zone your garden is situated, you may also need to consider the micro-climates within your garden. These micro-climates can be different by as much as several degrees, so you may need to take this into account when selecting planting areas.
WHAT CAN YOU SOW
If you have never attempted late summer planting, you may need to experiment to see which varieties work best in your area, but we have some good general suggestions to get you started. If you would like more specific varieties, please refer to our February 2013 newsletter (available by email if you don't already receive our monthly newsletters).
Root crops such as Beetroot, Carrots, Celeriac, Fennel Orion, small onions (not long keeping varieties), Parsnip, Radish, Salsify and Turnips are good for direct sowing.
Asian greens and some leafy greens are a good thing to grow at this time of year to give you a good range for your salads and stir-fries.
Other vegetable options are Beans, Celery, Leeks, Cucumber and Caigua.
Perennial vegetables such as Rhubarb, Asparagus and Artichokes can be planted now to get them going for cropping next year.
Annuals that take 50 - 60 days to flower can be sown now for a display at end of March/early April.
It is too warm for Sweet Peas at the moment, so sow these in late autumn for flowers in spring.
Perennials still have time to establish a crown or base plant for next year if sown now.
Most edible herbs are annuals and therefore can still be sown now for harvest before winter, so keep on sowing that yummy basil, coriander, parsley, etc.
NOT A GOOD IDEA
It is too warm for peas at the moment.
Its too late for watermelons, melons, pumpkin and squash as these need a longer growing period and there is not a long enough period of warm weather left this season before it starts getting cooler.
The same goes for tomatoes, chillies and peppers or anything that requires a tropical environment.
Food for thought or food for harvesting? It's your choice, so go on, give it a go and enjoy your late harvest.