South Island gardening jobs to do now: Start sowing broad beans

Broad beans.
Cherie Palmer

Broad beans.


Broad beans may be sown from now until August but should you live somewhere with particularly harsh winters, hold off until September. Soak the beans overnight in water – or some prefer to use a weak solution of liquid seaweed or compost tea, which is thought to speed up germination. Sow the beans 15cm apart about 5cm deep with the scar facing downwards. Trend now is to sow them in blocks of about 150cm by 150cm, which helps germination and the plants tend to support each other more than in rows. If preferring row, use double rows 20cm apart and 50cm from the next double row. Water seeds well at sowing, then they are best left until after germination – being large seeds they can rot if watered too much. Put in stakes either at the four corners of the block, or at the end of each row, around which stirng will be strung to help support the plants. The beds should be in a sunny spot in good garden soil.

Broad beans: the garden's troopers
Recipes: Broad bean, herb & haloumi salad, smashed broad beans with mint & lemon, and stir-fried broad beans & asparagus
How to plant, sow and stake broad beans over winter


Cabbage, herbs, onions, parsley parsnip, spinach and shallots may all be sown directly into the garden. Clear all old crops from vegetable patch. Dig over and either leave fallow or sow with a green manure to be dug in in late winter. Divide established rhubarb crowns to create more plants. This is usually advisable about every five years, especially if they are looking weak or overcrowded. Rhubarb prefers rich, moist, well-drained soil, so dig in manure and lime into the planting spot several weeks before planting. Plan winter planting of fruit trees, by ordering and preparing the ground with plenty of organic matter. Destroy all diseased fruit from under fruit trees to avoid the pest or disease overwintering.


The comparatively warm and wet weather has meant many weed seeds (and others) are germinating. A quick run round with the hoe will expunge them, and aerate the soil, which lets oxygen into the organisms breaking down organic material. Prepare the area where new roses are to be planted in winter by digging in deeply plenty of well-rotted manure. Then lime. Order roses now before they sell out. Sow sweet peas in a sunny spot with rich soil with good drainage and somewhere for the vines to climb up. Soak peas overnight before sowing to help germination. Sow or lay new lawns, or patch existing ones.

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