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Vegetables – spring planting guide

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cauliflowerWhen it comes to planting vegetables for spring, if you don’t know Jack, you’re lost in the frost! Some vegetables just plain hate the cold so, it’s essential to know when your area will see Jack Frost’s last blast of the season before planting.

The following is by no means an exhaustive list so please consult your garden centre for advice regarding any vegetables not mentioned here, or for optimum growing conditions in your area.

Keeping their cool

As onions, cauliflower, peas and spinach are hardy vegetables they can be planted in early spring, or as soon as the ground can be worked, giving gardeners a head start on a bountiful season. As cool season vegetables they can be sown any time from late February until early September and ready for harvest May-December.

‘More lovely and more temperate’

Leave vegetables such as lettuce, cabbage, carrots, parsnips and celery until a little later, but these can get underway before the end of September, or approximately two weeks before your last frost. In milder climates such as Northland and Auckland however they can grow well throughout the year.

Hot blooded!

With some veggies you will need to hold off on planting until the last frost has passed. Warmer season vegetables including beans, corn, cucumbers, tomatoes, pumpkins and capsicums, for example, require frost-free conditions. You should be able to start planting next month, and continue to do so until February. They will be ready for the table December-May.

Her indoors

Remember some vegetables can grow quite successfully in containers, whatever the weather, but make sure you keep them fed, watered, sheltered and exposed to as much sun as possible during the colder months.

As all gardeners know, the weather is a fickle master but you don’t always need a weather man to know which way the wind blows! It’s usually a roll of the dice when trying to predict exactly when the last frost will be and average dates vary throughout New Zealand.

As a rough guide however,  the Auckland region should have seen the last of the frosts by now but Canterbury and other South Island regions can expect to see a few more until the end of September and even into October.

Growing out of season is a major cause of vegetables failing in the garden. Garden centres will usually only stock seeds appropriate to the season, so always ask for advice before planting.