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Written by Wally Richards. 31st  March 2007
Written by Wally Richards.
Written by Wally Richards. [Photo]

Autumn is not only the time of harvest it is also great for sowing seeds and collecting them.
We sow seeds for lawns, green crops, winter vegetables, winter flowers and for those that like something for nothing, we collect seeds.
Last week we wrote about sowing lawns, which autumn is the best time as the young grasses have ample time to establish before they face a hot dry summer.
Sowing of vegetables seeds for harvesting in a few months time is also a great way to have healthy home grown crops for winter meals. ‘Niche’ has a range of vegetable seeds that are ideal for planting now. Available from most garden centres the range includes;
Broccoli Romanesco easy to grow,  delightful whorled spears, pick as required. This is a great broccoli for autumn growing and the heads are a lovely lime green in colour.
Mini Cabbages (double packets) conical and ball heads, mini savoy (crinkled head), and mini red head  all easy to grow and enough for a meal or two with no wastage, great flavours.
Mini cabbages are quick to mature, less problems from club root disease, which for those with the problem in their soil, they can obtain a jar of potassium permanganate (Condy’s Crystals) from a garden shop. The jar has a recipe for drenching the planting hole with the diluted crystals and salt to prevent the disease attacking the roots.
White butterfly will still be a problem for a while yet and you can overcome this by sprinkling Neem Tree Granules on the soil near the base of the seedlings. (Also do the same with Kale below)
Kale (Borecole / Scotch Kale / Winter Kale)  excellent source of vitamins, needs cool weather to bring out the sweet flavour
Carrot Rainbow selection  carrots in a range of funky colours, red, yellow, purple, white and orange, all taste like carrots, each with their own individual nutrient content.
Carrot Sugar Snax one of the sweetest, juiciest and crunchiest carrots available, really easy to grow, can be eaten as fingerling's.
To avoid carrot fly damage sprinkle Neem Tree Granules down the row with the seeds and later when the seedlings are up, side dress the row with the same.
New Zealand Spinach  start only a matter of weeks after sowing the seed, cut only what you need and allow a couple of weeks for re-growth to pick again.
The above vegetables are top rating ones for vitamins and minerals giving you nutritionally dense fare to ward off colds and chills in winter. Best eaten raw in salads and coleslaws to obtain all the enzymes and vitality, freshly picked from the garden.
You only get out what you put in so drench the soil at sowing time with Magic Botanic Liquid (MBL) and spray the crops 2-4 weekly with the same. Use only compost and natural plant foods such as sheep manure pellets and avoid any chemical fertilisers and sprays.
Don’t forget sprouts can be grow all year round in a Bio Set propagator and after the sprouts have germinated give them a flush of a weak solution of Ocean Solids for all the natural minerals.
For the flower garden, Niche have a huge range of sweet peas, hollyhocks, pansies, aquilegia and poppies that can all be sown now.
Green Crops or fodder crops are sown over gardens that you have harvested your summer crops of vegetables or in vacant flower plots.
The reasons for sowing fodder crops is for them to take up the goodness that has been left in the soil rather than have that goodness leached away with winter rains. A thick cover crop also reduces weed establishment. There are a number of popular crops that can be planted for this purpose and each one will bring added benefits to your gardens. Later when the crop is reaching maturity and before it sets seeds, you cut the crop off at near ground level with a pair of hedge clippers and then cover the stubble and cut foliage with compost. (The old way was to dig in the crop but this damages the soil food web and also brings weed seeds to the surface) Using the cut and cover method means no soil disturbance.
After cutting the crop you sprinkle Rapid Lime (Soon to be available) and drench the cut foliage with MBL and Mycorrcin which will assist in the breakdown of the green matter. Also animal manure can be sprinkled over the area before the compost. You only need about an inch of compost to cover and leave fallow till you are ready to plant up in the spring. In the meantime the soil life and worms will work on the materials supplied making a fantastic garden for growing in next spring.
The following are some of the seeds you can grow for a green crop;
Lupin are a quick growing and excellent source of nitrogen. Prefers light, slightly acid soil.
Alpha Alpha easy to grow and perfect for rejuvenating worn out soil. Breaks up soil pans with its vigorous root growth and draws up sub-surface minerals. Drought resistant. Cut for a nitrogen rich mulch.
Mustard is excellent for weed seed control and cleaning up some harmful soil fungi. Very fast growing and prefers moist soil. (DO NOT PLANT IF YOU HAVE CLUB ROOT PROBLEMS IN THE SOIL)
Oats Provides lots of organic matter.
Wheat is a very good source of carbon and humus.
Peas not only provide a rich source of nitrogen but you can benefit from a crop of fresh peas to boot.
My preference is to sow a mix of any or all of the above to obtain a range of benefits in one sowing.
Our last aspect is the collection of seeds which is a great way to obtain a lot of seed to resow next spring/summer costing you only a bit of your time collecting and storing.
With any vegetables that you have grown, you let one of the best plants go to seed and harvest the seeds later on when they are ripe. Normally speaking if you allow a silverbeet go to seed (for instance) you will have hundreds of seeds for future use. When you sow this seed next season and allow for another plant to go to seed, you will over a few generations obtain a strain of silverbeet that has adapted specifically to your soil and weather conditions. This applies to any type of vegetable or plant. It is also the reason why certain weed species you have an on going problem with do so well in your gardens.
Collecting flower seeds of annual flowering plants is much quicker as they are already flowering or have flowered and have seed pods ready to harvest.
Impatiens is one of my favourite ones as the seed is expensive to buy. When touched the ripe seed pod springs open, scattering the seeds all over the place. Just slip a small plastic bag over the pods and seal before the pod springs open. Activated, all the seeds will be in the bag.
Whatever the seed is that you collect place each type in a jar lid and leave on a window sill for a couple of days to dry. Then place the seeds in a small paper bag with the type written on the bag.
A number of these bags are then placed in a sealed glass jar and put in the fridge for storage.
The cold temperature of the fridge will keep them in good condition for sowing later on.
Seeds collected in this manner are a great savings and a lot of fun to do.

Problems ring me at 0800 466 464 (Palmerston North 3570606)
Web site www.gardenews.co.nz

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