Plants are growing more slowly now but the weeds never seem to slow down! Try to get ahead of them now before they flower and set seed. Some weed seeds survive in the soil for many years so you will never stop them completely!
After the rain in May the salad greens are growing well and so is the broccoli. They seem to appreciate a feed of Seasol and Powerfeed every couple of weeks or so.
In my home garden there are a number of plants that self-seed each year so I am careful to encourage them as they smother out the weeds. The most successful are Italian parsley, calendula, poppies, nasturtiums, forget-me-knots, chervil, perilla and nigella (love-in-a-mist). I am trying to encourage the coriander to self-seed too but don’t have much success. Usually we get tomatoes and pumpkins appearing in odd spots too as the seeds get into the compost. Nasturtiums are great under fruit trees as they shade the roots from the hot sun when summer comes and the form a sort of straw mulch when they die down. They also look pretty and come in many colours.
- 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
- Tidy up pepper and eggplants for the winter. Remove the dead leaves and trim back the stems to healthy shoots.
- Plant spring onion and leek seedlings into large boxes.
- Remove the leaves from the strawberry plants and put them into the green bin in case they are carrying a virus.
- Remove the remaining old parsley plants that have gone to seed and add to the compost.
- Give the fig trees a light prune to make them more bushy. Then dress them with manure or compost and a layer of mulch or straw.
- Cover the asparagus with a thick layer of horse manure and straw.
It is not so much fun working in the garden at this time of the year. If you have a well-lit window in your house where the air is not too dry, maybe the bathroom, laundry or kitchen, you could try growing some vegetables from seed. You will need some punnets or seed trays with a tray of some sort to go underneath. Kits are available in hardware stores or just recycle your old punnets. If you plan to recycle old punnets, it is best to wash them and leave them to dry in the sun. The UV from the sunlight will sterilise them and get rid of fungi and bacteria that might kill your seedlings as they emerge.
Lettuce, rocket and silverbeet are easy to grow from seed. Just half fill the punnets with good potting mix. Water them well. Sprinkle some seeds on top – about 2 or 3 to each square centimetre. Cover them with seed raising mix or fine potting mix so they are just covered. Press down and lightly water again. Place them on the drip tray (litter trays are cheap and work well) and cover with an old newspaper. After 3 days, have a quick peep each day and as soon as the plants start to emerge, remove the newspaper. From now on you need to ensure that they do not dry out on the surface. A light frequent watering is best. If water is coming out of the bottom, you are in danger of killing them through over-watering! Once they have 2 proper leaves it is best to thin them out to 1.5 cm apart and to add some liquid fertiliser to the water. When they have 4 leaves they can be potted up into 4cm pots to develop their root systems. Then when there is a nice warm day they can be planted outside.
It is getting too cold for many seeds to germinate outside. However peas and broad beans should be OK but will take longer to emerge now that the days are shorter and cooler. Over-watering could cause the seeds to rot so only water if it is very dry.
Now is the time to start growing seeds in the greenhouse or on a sunny windowsill. Good ones to try are lettuce, leeks, kale, spring onions and spinach as they can be transplanted outside through the colder months. Once they have 4 to 6 leaves they can be planted outside. Try not to make it too much of a shock to them. The plants will settle in best when a few warm days are expected. Alternatively move them outside the greenhouse for a few hours a day for a couple of days before planting them.
It is still OK to plant garlic. Folklore has it that garlic must be planted before the shortest day. Garlic planted this late should be ready for harvest about Christmas.
Broad beans, lettuce, peas, rocket, watercress, coriander.
Asian greens, broccoli, garlic, kale, leeks, lettuce, onions, spinach, spring onions, coriander, parsley.
The autumn rains have brought out the slugs and snails. They can destroy seedlings overnight so stay ahead of the game by sprinkling snail bait round your seedlings and vulnerable plants. Just make sure that children, pets and wildlife are not able to get them.
Although the weather has cooled down and the cabbage white butterflies have disappeared there are still active caterpillars munching our veggies. It does not take long to remove them by hand but the plants can take a while to recover as they are now growing more slowly