Patch from Scratch – May

Patch from scratch - organic vegitables in your back yard

May is one of my favourite times of the year when the days are still warm, the evenings a tad chilly but most importantly all my berry bushes are producing at an astounding rate.  I had great ambitions to make jams and jellies and cute little cup cakes filled with berries. So what went wrong?  Well, to tell you the truth, none have even made it to the kitchen yet, in fact, they haven’t even made it out the potager! Like clockwork, I go out there every morning and devour them, with junior gardener in tow.

Talking of fruits, have you ever tasted the yellow guava?  One of my clients has a tree in her garden and they are absolutely delicious, and easy to grow too.  Give them lots and lots of food.

Anyway, apart from eating berries in the garden, I’ve been very busy planting out most of my autumn/winter seedlings so their roots get well established before the soil gets too cold.  If you haven’t planted yours out yet, make sure you do it this month.

I’ve also been preparing for the cold weather, so I don’t get caught out.  My hoops are ready in place over the raised beds, so at the first sign of frost I can throw the covers on and pin them down.  All the broad bean and pea structures are up and planted and I’ve given them all a good feed with nature curator so they grow strong and nutritious – check it out  If you don’t have a frost cloth, a good alternative is to put big glass jars over seedlings, just remember to take them off in the morning or the sun will bake them!

Get fruity in your backyard!
The rainy months are the best time to plant fruit trees, but don’t buy the ones in the garden centres right now, they’re old stock.  Now is a great time get a plan in place of what you’re going to grow.  There’s a lot of research to do, you’ll need to find out what trees will suit your soil and garden conditions, how big they will grow, how long they will take to fruit, and how to look after them.  Wait until June onwards before you purchase your trees, (although you can order from Koanga now), to get the new seasons trees.

I know all this because we have a new fantastic fruit tree expert who is going to be consulting for Patch from Scratch.   He’s been working with fruit trees for +20 years and knows the ins and outs of every fruit there is!  There’s nothing worse than finding out five years down the track that you’ve got it wrong.  So, Let us take the hard work out of growing fruit trees by drawing up a garden design for you and giving you all the information you need, so you can get it right first time. We can advise you on choosing, planting, training grapes, pests and disease control, even learning to espalier.

Special request
My mum is coming over from England in the next few days to meet baby Scarlett and I really want to take her feijoa picking and make a crumble for her.   I know around this time everyone who has got a feijoa tree in their garden starts to get  a bit sick of them so if you’re one of those, and fancy doing a swap-see for some rhubarb (and a few berries!) drop me an email and we’d love to come and collect them up and take them away.

Patch Helping Hands

The good people at Greenlane Christian centre are trying to get vegetable garden established to provide fresh veges for their food bank.  They started, but with lack of resources, funds and knowledge, they’re getting a bit stuck. So, they came to us to ask for help and we are organising a working bee at the garden nearby their church on Sunday 17th May for 2-3 hours in the afternoon.  Our buddies at Daltons have kindly donated heaps of organically certified compost and our lovely seedling supplier at Oakdale organics and thrown in a whole seasons worth of seedlings, how nice is that!  If you’d like to give back a bit to the community and be part of our working bee, please email me your contact details.

If you’ve ever planted seedlings and they have then disappeared over night it is likely you’ve been blitzed by a cutworm. Cutworms get their name due to their habit of “cutting” off a seedling by chewing through the stem, ultimately destroying the entire plant.

Cutworms can be quite distinct. To me, they look like ugly brown caterpillars! Many are stout, smooth, soft-bodied, plump caterpillars which vary in colour from brown to green, gray, pink or black. Some are all one colour, others are spotted or striped.

To prevent cutworms destroying your plants you can
•    Regularly check your garden, particularly during the late afternoon and evening when cutworms are more active. This way it is possible to detect their activity when they are first present. Control of cutworms is more effective when the larvae are small.  For some crops, such as tomatoes, peppers and celery, you may need to monitor for cutworms until harvest.
•    Remove weeds and plant residue to help reduce egg-laying sites
•    Use compost rather than green manure
•    Place aluminium foil, wax paper, cardboard collars, coloured paper or plastic around the stem of the plants to create a barrier between the plant and the cutworm. This should be at least four inches high above the soil and one inch below the soil.

What to plant in May
Bok Choy    Broad Beans    Broccoli    Cabbage
Cauliflower    Celery    Chinese Cabbage    Leeks
Onion    Peas    Radish    Spring Onion
Kohlrabi    Silverbeet    Perpetual Spinach    Turnip

If you want to grow your own veges and could do with a helping hand to get the right start, then you may want to seek help.  Patch from Scratch offers an all inclusive service building and maintaining veggie beds for beginner organic gardeners and busy people.  We also offer Kits sets for DIY enthusiasts and a consultancy service for people who really want to do it all themselves but just need a bit of guidance.

For more on our services go to or call us for details 09 525 7897 / 021 334 603.

Happy Gardening!

Sarah Davies

Patch from Scratch Ltd
PO Box 11105
Ellerslie 1542, Auckland
phone 09 525 7897
mobile 021 334 603


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