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Crimson Broad Beans

April planting ideas

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Mid-autumn is a lovely time to plant some seeds for a winter harvest. Check out Justin Russell's April planting guide.

To really get a handle on what might be right to plant in your climate zone at this time of the year, and what might prove to be disastrous, I suggest doing two things: One, talk with local farmers and experienced gardeners who’ve been living in your area for a while. They’re invariably a great source of info. And two, get hold of a decent climate map. Organic Gardener has one, and there’s also good info available from the Diggers Club and the Bureau of Meterology

In cool temperate, warm temperate and arid/semi-arid zones the autumn planting window is starting to close, but if you get in now there’s still time to plant quick-maturing brassicas such as pak choy, rocket, kale, cabbage, broccoli, mizuna and mustard. Get in some root veg like beetroot, turnips, radish, carrot and parsnip and make a start with alliums such as leeks and chives. Bung in some more garlic and shallots, and start sowing onions. Don’t forget lettuce, endive and silverbeet for warm-winter salads. 

It’s also the ideal month to plant broad beans. Forget about their reputation alongside Brussels sprouts and turnips as the horrid trinity of vegetables. Broad beans are actually beautiful things to eat when prepared simply. They’re also quite beautiful to grow. Just push the seeds into reasonably fertile, slightly alkaline soil (add lime if your ground is acidic), water deeply, then wait for the shoots to appear before watering again. To give the plants some support against strong winter winds, set up a basic fence around the perimeter of your planting using stakes and twine.  

In the subtropics try any of the cool season veg listed above, along with bush and climbing beans, celery, Florence fennel, kohlrabi, peas, parsley, dill and oregano. You too can try broad beans, but be prepared to keep the water up to them if spring in your area turns out to be very dry. 

In the tropics, your short winter veg planting window is here. Try planting anything listed for the subtropics, as well as asparagus pea, cape gooseberry, tomatillo, chillies, cucumber, daikon, eggplant, potato, pumpkin, sweet potato, corn and zucchini. In fact, give almost anything a try this month and you might be surprised just what’s possible in the tropical dry season.