The latest seasonal forecast issued by ExtendWeather of CLIMsystems Ltd based on state-of-the-art NOAA data points to a late spring for much of New Zealand. Winter has now taken hold in much of the country and it is expected to include below normal monthly average temperatures, punctuated by periods of extreme cold. Precipitation is likely to be below normal for many parts of the country over the winter and early spring period. This information can be considered by keen gardeners who are just now planning their hothouse seed plantings and the decision making on varieties and timing for transplant to their garden beds.

Home vegetable gardening is for young and old a New Zealand tradition. Increasingly having control over ones food source is motivation for planting and maintaining a patch. Costs for store bought fruits and vegetables is also a strong motivating factor. Whatever the reason the planting of a vegetable garden and its success can be enhanced with information on the type of growing season to be expected. This is where new methods for gathering and processing atmospheric data comes to the fore. ExtendWeather is proud to be working at the cutting edge of the data and processing technology to generate new ‘easy to read’ and interpret maps of New Zealand’s forecasted temperatures, rainfall, potential evapotranspiration deficit and wind. The forecasts are updated every ten days which means they incorporate the latest data and potential changes.

The most recent forecast was released on 14 July and extends through the summer. Importantly, it appears there is increasing agreement across the models and forecast periods that we are in for a rather long, cool and dry spring. Of course, this is likely to be proceeded by a cooler and drier than normal winter. We encourage keen vegetable growers who are contemplating the planting of seeds in the coming days and weeks in their glasshouses and other sheltered seed propagation sites to consider the forecast in their planning. Planting too soon may lead to plants growing too ‘leggy’ before they can be successfully transferred outdoors. Even when they are planted outdoors they could be stunted in their early season growth by the expected cooler than normal temperatures. Tomato plants are a classic for this. They like a little heat and long cool springs do neither the plants nor you any favours. But some vegetables could do a little better in a cooler spring and you might consider growing some of them over a greater area of your patch. We encourage you to access sites like Garden Grow to get idea and to consider alternatives in light of the seasonal forecast: http://www.gardengrow.co.nz/

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