September 11, 2019
It's time to get out and get planting, so you can bed down your garden ready for the warmer months. Read on for a selection of tasks, compiled by Penny Woodward, that you'll want to add to your to-do list.
Start planting wet-season cucurbits including luffa, zucchini, snake gourds, bitter melon and ‘Jap’ pumpkin. Construct frames for the climbing ones to grow up, keeping them off the ground.
Cover leafy greens, tomato and capsicum plants with 25% shadecloth to reduce the harsh impacts of the sun. Construct a simple frame and attach shadecloth or fine netting.
Prepare pineapple cuttings from undamaged pineapple tops. Sit them on a windowsill for a week for the wounds to dry and heal before planting in a sunny, well-drained spot in compost-rich soil.
Trim and re-pot dry-climate-loving herbs such as thyme, rosemary and oregano. They hate hot, wet conditions so be ready to move them to a sunny edge under cover when the wet season arrives.
Plant a sprouted choko at the base of a solid support at a 45° angle with the shoot pointing upwards, making sure there is lots of room for the vine to climb and sprawl.
To keep tomatoes flowering and producing fruit, sprinkle potash around the plants and keep them well watered to avoid blossom-end rot.
Aim to get most of your planting done towards the end of September so that plants have time to settle in before the hot, dry weather arrives. Just be prepared to protect any sensitive plants from late frost.
Late frost can destroy flowers on apricots, peaches and nectarines. If one is predicted then protect stone fruit flowers by misting them with water at sunset.
Fertilise strawberries with blood and bone and potash to promote strong flowering and fruit set. Mulch to keep the soil consistently moist.
Grow a pot of microgreens for a quick feed of nutritious tiny leaves. Use a mix of seeds including kale, tatsoi, endive, mizuna and beetroot. Sow them over the surface of the pot and cover with a layer of soil. Water well. Harvest by cutting once there are two to four leaves on the seedlings.
If you have a spare bed then plant a spring green manure crop such as lucerne or fenugreek. Leave to grow for 10 weeks and then dig into the soil.
Sow seeds of celeriac, chicory, chives and coriander straight into well-prepared soil where they are to grow. If an early uncharacteristically hot day is forecast then cover the bed with shade-cloth.
Plant a final crop of the fast-maturing brassicas such as broccoli and ‘Red Russian’ kale. But look out for white cabbage butterflies. Planting hyssop in another part of the garden will help to lure them away.
Give pot plants a good feed, ready for vigorous spring growth. Use worm juice, diluted seaweed extract and fish emulsion. Also top-dress with worm castings.
Don’t plant seedlings out too early. Even if they are available to buy, seedlings of summer crops such as tomatoes and pumpkin won’t thrive until soil temperatures reach around 20C.