Now that the days are getting longer, it is easier to believe that Spring is on its way. The spring bulbs are starting to flower, the buds on the fruit trees are swelling and the vegetable garden is getting more productive. I am starting to dream of large, red, fragrant tomatoes as I pot up my seedlings. The herb garden is showing signs of growth and I am looking forward to adding more flavours to my casseroles, soups and salads.
There is plenty to do in the garden this month. By preparing the garden beds well this month, the summer vegetables will grow well once the weather warms up. Green leafy vegetables, root vegetables and herbs should develop fast if planted over the next couple of months. Vegetables that are fruits, such as zucchini and tomatoes need more warmth. They perform best when planted from the end of September to November.
- Jobs to do this month
- Learner’s Corner (For the new gardener)
- For the experienced gardener
- Seeds to sow this month
- Seedlings to plant out this month
- The War Zone
Jobs to do in my Ocean Grove garden this month:
- Prepare the vegetable boxes for their summer crops.
- Fertilise the fruit trees before they start blooming. Give them plenty of manure or organic fertilisers and cover with a mulch of straw or garden clippings.
- Spray the stone fruit trees with Kocide before the blossom opens.
- Pot up the tomato, capsicum, eggplant and chilli seedlings and place in a sheltered spot.
- Re-pot herbs such as mint, chives and tarragon.
This is a good time to prepare the soil in your vegetable garden for the seedlings that you will be planting in the spring. Remove all the weeds and rubbish first. If you have not grown anything there before, you can dig it over to aerate the soil. If you grew a crop last summer, just spread a bag or two of manure over the patch. If you do not have access to manure then use a few handfuls of blood and bone fertiliser plus a few handfuls of dynamic lifter and a few bucketfuls of compost, if you have any. Water it well then cover with a 2 – 5 cm layer of straw. After a week, it should be ready for planting. If you have just signed up for a box or plot at the community garden, there is no need for any soil preparation as they are ready for planting.
If you have been growing lettuce, spinach or silverbeet from seed and they are at least 4 cm high, you can plant them out into a well-prepared spot in the garden. Just remember to water them every 2 days for the first week. After that once a week should be enough until the weather warms up. If we get lots of rain you may not need to water at all!
Now is the time to sow seeds of heritage tomatoes, either in a greenhouse or in a warm spot such as the laundry or bathroom. Once they emerge they can be moved outside to a warm sheltered spot. This strengthens the plants but will slow down the growth a bit. As they grow, pot them on into larger pots as they soon use up the nutrients in punnets and small pots. If you plan carefully, you should be able to grow a mixture of early and late varieties. The Diggers Club and New Gippsland Seed company have a good choice of seeds for heritage varieties.
Basil is a great companion for tomatoes both in the garden and in the kitchen. It is too early to sow basil seeds out in the open but they can be grown in a greenhouse to maturity. If you want to grow basil outside, I suggest you hold off from sowing the seeds for a couple of months.
If you have been raising leeks and onions from seed, they can be planted outside now. Watch out for the black onion aphid as they enjoy the new growth.
Asian greens, broad beans, beetroot, capsicum, carrots, chilli, eggplant, leeks, lettuce, parsnip, peas, rocket, spring onions, tomatoes, dill.
Seedlings to plant out this month
Asian greens, lettuce, rocket, spring onions, chives, coriander, parsley.
Now that the broccoli, peas and carrots are starting to produce the goods, we need to be vigilant about large pests such as rabbits and rats. Plants can be protected from rabbits by surrounding them with chicken wire or bird netting. It is not so easy to protect them from rats and mice so if you have a problem you will need to consider using baits. However make sure they cannot be accessed by children, pets or other wildlife.