By Laura Power
We caught up with Erin Allison at Harvest Homegrown for an update on the spring growing
season. While it’s still early days for new growth here in Central Otago (thanks in large part to
the reduced hours of sunlight over the winter), Erin’s garden is already filling up with the
season’s new seedlings and a few overwintered veggies remain too.
1.What are your favourite spring veggies?
Erin: Just greens I think! I kind of get to this point and I’m just craving the baby greens. Carrots
in spring are awesome. If you’ve had them in the ground overwinter they get really sweet.
They’re really tasty.
And depending on how early in the season, getting those first snow peas and all that is always
really cool, but they don’t tend to happen until a bit later. They get frost damage so if you do
them too early you run that gauntlet.
Pak choi is pretty good in spring too. It doesn’t do too well in the heat of summer as it tends to
go to seed quickly.
Thinking about what else is around now too, you can find parsley, chives, and a few edible
flowers and spring onions – those over winter really well too. Microgreens are another easy
quick green too.
2. What should we be planting right now?
Erin: By late September or early October, you’ll want to have sown veggies like snow peas, early
potatoes, and carrots. I have also planted out seedlings of cabbages, broccoli, kale and spring
onions too. Greens like spinach, mizuna and baby kale can all be direct seeded now as the
ground should be warm enough. Frost is still an issue at this time of year and veggies like
potatoes, tomatoes, zucchini and beans hate the frost, so you’ll want to keep new seedlings
protected for a while still.
3. Anything else we should be doing in the garden during spring?
Erin: Now’s a good time to feed your perennial crops, think strawberries, rhubarb and herbs,
and ones that have been in the ground awhile already, like garlic and shallots. I like to use a
seaweed solution for this. Soil preparation in spring is an ongoing task, and you should always
be thinking about how you can keep adding organic matter into your soil, whether you want to
try in-bed composting, using cover crops, or dropping weeds and spent plants as mulch
(provided they haven’t already gone to seed of course!).
A big thanks to Erin for sharing your expertise with us! If you’re keen to learn more from Erin
directly, check out her next Veggie Gardening Workshop session, coming up on 13 & 14
November. You can find details over on the Harvest Homegrown Facebook page.