Crop Care

This section of the website covers tips, timing and care of the perennial fruit and veges and other communal crops we have growing in the garden over the year.  Check the food and recipes pages for how to use the harvests. We have chosen these crops for the communal plots, because:

  • they require large amounts of space (eg. berries, corn, pumpkins, artichokes, potatoes) or
  • they require a long growing season (eg. garlic, leeks, onions) or are perennials (eg. berries, rhubarb) or
  • they have a short harvest period (eg peas, potatoes, garlic) or
  • they store well and are staples (eg potatoes, jerusalem artichoke, pumpkin, garlic) or
  • they require more (or less) water and fertilisers  (eg corn, berries)
  • they are relatively easy to plant, manage and harvest

Click on the map to see where the crops are in our garden.

Click on each crop below to find how to care for it:

If you have tips to share or more info on growing these crops in Newstead, or the local area, please add a comment to the notes.

Garden Herbs

Our garden grows very good herbs. Here’s some guidance and inspiration for these wonderful plants. No garden should be without them. list-of-herbs-feb-2016 february-2016  

Budding basics

Peter gave me a quick run down on how he approaches budding when he came to collect some cuttings from our three plums – Angelina, Damson and Coe’s Golden Drop. He wants to produce a multi-variety plum tree from his existing, mature plum. By budding (or grafting) with another variety, Peter can extend his harvest and produce different … Continue reading Budding basics


With hundreds of apple varieties, suited to fresh eating, cooking and cidermaking amongst uses, we have selected a range to crop over the season and a mix of appearances – and all are dwarf trees – Bramley, Cox’s Orange Pippin, Snow, Blue Permain, Rome Beauty, Gravenstein, Abas. Apples are frost sensitive at flowering but hopefully the … Continue reading Apples


Normally you wouldn’t consider growing apricots in Newstead. They flower and fruit too early to avoid our frost-prone climate. However, given a sheltered spot in our garden and the fact that the seasons are changing, we might hope to get fruit more than one year in eight, or ten, which is the norm for around here. … Continue reading Apricot


Asparagus is a crop worth waiting for; at least three years wait. And then the 10 months of the year when it is dormant! But it is a true spring delicacy which everyone should be able to afford to eat and once established, it will be very long lived.  Perfect for a community garden. We … Continue reading Asparagus


We have our blueberries growing in repurposed washing machine (or dryer?) innards, with an insulating layer of hessian into which the potting mix has been placed. The reason for this extra care is that blueberries wouldn’t normally grow well in Newstead soil. They need acid – and damp – conditions to grow and it is … Continue reading Blueberries

Broad Beans

Broad beans are an easy crop to grow, are suited to Newstead’s cold winters – don’t mind a frost or two – and a spring eating delight. A valuable legume, they add nitrogen to the soil and can make a good green manure crop if not left to produce and pod. ‘Dwarf’ and ‘longpod’ types … Continue reading Broad Beans


Corn is a summer crop that requires a lot of space and a lot of water and is probably not worth growing for all the resources needed to produce only two or three cobs on each plant. But if water and space are not limiting, then go ahead. And it can be intercropped. Nothing you … Continue reading Corn


Garlic is another crop perfectly suited to the community garden – it loves our cold wet autumn/winters and hot dry spring/summers, has a long growing season so suits the communal growing spaces and apart from weeding, is easy to grow and propogate planting material for future years. Add the fact it can be stored for … Continue reading Garlic

More on Garlic

Penny Woodward loves garlic. You can tell by reading her new book “Garlic”, published by Hyland House. The byline: ‘an organic guide to knowing, growing and using garlic, from Australian Whites and Tasmanian Purples to Korean Reds and Shandongs’. See? Penny visited our garden in 2012 when she gave a workshop on pest repellent plants. … Continue reading More on Garlic

Globe Artichoke

Artichokes are in the same family as daisies (asteracea) and other flowers, not suprising when you see their thistle like flower head. They are ideal to grow in our climate and tolerate frosts, like a cold winter and definite seasons, and are another perennial spring vege. The plants need a permanent place in the garden … Continue reading Globe Artichoke

Good Bug Mix/Permaculture Mix

We have ‘good bug mix’ growing around our fruit trees. Hopefully it will be extended into other areas of the garden and left to grow and self seed. Organic and biodynamic gardening aims to treat the whole garden (or property) as a living, thriving ecosystem and working within that context. This means enhancing – or … Continue reading Good Bug Mix/Permaculture Mix


Like most of the crops in our garden, grapes (Vitus vinifera) need a cold winter and chilling factor, as well as warm summer. They make a great screening plant and look beautiful in autumn. MAIN TASKS: Autumn – Pick fruit. Take cuttings of green wood for propogating. Grapes can also be budded or grafted in spring. … Continue reading Grapes

Green Manures

In organic gardening green manures are an important way to add nutrients and organic matter to the soil, control weed growth, as well as avoiding disease and pest problems from rotational growing. Every garden bed should have a green manure incorporated (either summer or winter, depending on your crop rotation) at some point in the … Continue reading Green Manures

Guava or Feijoa

This covers the guavas we have growing near the peppercorn tree, including pineapple (feijoa) and strawberry guava. Not sure how much longer we’ll leave them there because they are perpetually getting cut back by frost (they should grow as a shrub up to 4m). An evergreen more suited to warmer climes, we may have to … Continue reading Guava or Feijoa

Jerusalem Artichoke

Jerusalem artichokes (Helianthus tuberoses), also known as sunchokes or canadian potatoes, are not related to the globe artichoke at all, in fact they are closer to the sunflower (Helianthus annuus). With small sunflower-like flowers and growing up to 2m tall they resemble them, apart from the starchy tubers which is the focus of harvest. Jerusalems … Continue reading Jerusalem Artichoke

Loganberry, Boysenberry

Loganberries grow like blackberries but look and taste more like raspberries whilst boysenberries have larger plumper blackberry-like fruit. They are both taste sensations but fragile, the reason you don’t see them in supermarkets or other outlets. Loganberry doesn’t grow as prolifically as other berries, in fact they are both less robust than raspberries or blackberries. … Continue reading Loganberry, Boysenberry


Lemons are another not-so-good crop for frosty, hot, dry Newstead. However there are gardeners who have a nice north facing sheltered spot, or a lovely brick wall that retains the winter sun, or other microclimates. We have moved our lemons again; the first spot no good and now one of them is doing well, but … Continue reading Lemon


With hundreds of pear varieties, we have selected a range to crop over the season and a mix of appearances – Wiliams, Packham, Buerre Bosc, Corella, Faccia Rosa (a cocktail pear), San Giovanni. Pears are frost sensitive at flowering but hopefully the last frost will have passed in Newstead. A mix of varieties will aide pollination. … Continue reading Pears


Peas are a short, cool season season crop, but frost tender, usually planted in autumn to early spring for a spring or early summer feed.  The main thing is tp avoid having them flower when there are frosts about or you will lose the crop. There are climbing (tall) or bush (dwarf) types, as well … Continue reading Peas


Persimmons hail from Asia and are a lovely looking tree in the deeps of winter when fruit is scarce. Divided into astringent and non-astringent types, the astringent types need to be left to ripen until the flesh is very soft and almost pulpy, whereas the non astringents can be eaten when still quite hard. I … Continue reading Persimmon


The pomegranate cops bad flack, being reputed to be responsible for the fall of Persephone (daughter of Demeter) and is associated with many myths and rituals – not hard to see why when you watch it’s growth and production. But this ancient fruit is worth the effort of separating the juice from the seeds and … Continue reading Pomegranate


Spuds (Solanum tuberosum) are an important staple in the garden and make a useful first crop when creating new garden beds because their expanding root system opens up the soil and leafy canopy shades out weeds. As part of the Solanacea family they are related to tomatoes and eggplants, so seasonal rotations need careful consideration. … Continue reading Potatoes

Pumpkins, Zucchini, Squash

These plants all grow in a similar way, but there are differences when seed saving. Best to either hand pollinate (they bear separate male and female flowers on the same plant) or grow one type each year. Curcubita maxima – the pumpkins – have hard skins, need 4-6 months growing season and have good keeping … Continue reading Pumpkins, Zucchini, Squash


Quinces are heady fruits; the leaves resemble apple leaves as do the pink blossom (except they are born singly) and the golden yellow, hard fruit are a bit pear-like, except that they are covered in soft down and give off an amazing perfume. Quinces can’t be eaten raw, they need stewing or baking, preferably long, … Continue reading Quince


The best of the berries. We have summer fruiting and autumn fruiting varieties, as well as an ‘allseason’ which crops right though. They need to be pruned differently – with the summer berries you leave the new canes and cut out the old; the autumn berries are easier – just cut everything down to the … Continue reading Raspberries


Another crop suited to our temperate climate and cool winters, though it doesn’t like our long hot summers. Stem color does relate to temperature; apparently 10 degrees C prduces the brightest reds, though there are varietal differences. The best way to grow rhubard is by planting the crowns, which can be divided from mature plants, … Continue reading Rhubarb


Strawberries fall into two groups – day neutral and short day types. Day neutral plants (also called everbearers) will set fruit whenever the temperature allows, basically between 20 and 30 degrees C, but the taste of the fruit is not as intense (most strawberries you buy will be day neutral because growers want the long … Continue reading Strawberry


I enjoy growing sunflowers for their visual appeal in the summer garden. They are useful as well, but choose the variety carefully – some are specific to produce plump, edible seeds, others have been bred for oil, others for the birds! Sunflowers are good to intercrop, eg. with climbing or runner beans as a structural … Continue reading Sunflower

Swiss Chard or Silverbeet

A relative of beetroot, silverbeet or chard (Beta vulgaris) is a staple in any winter garden; high food value and easy to grow. Generally chard is known as having colored stems, but the names are interchangeable. A biennial, it can be planted year round except for the coldest months and picked year round. Plants like … Continue reading Swiss Chard or Silverbeet


We have some watercress growing in terracotta pots about the garden, although it grows more naturally near and in running water. Watercress can be propogated from cuttings or seed. A bright (but not direct sun) well drained site, with some shade suits best and they need to be kept moist, which is why pots work … Continue reading Watercress


Notes from session with John Pinniger from the Heritage Fruits Society. We learnt two types of graft – the whip and tongue and the cleft graft. Whip and tongue is usually used when the rootstock (what you are grafting to) and the scion (what you are grafting with) are of a similar size. The cleft … Continue reading Grafting

One thought on “Crop Care

  1. Saide of Sandon says:

    O these beauties remind me of the promises of Spring and the bounties of Summer. Such pleasures to look forward to in the depths of a cold and wonderfully wet winter. I can hear the compost calling!

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