- What to harvest: Late season apples and pears, mandarins, early grapefruit, persimmons, early avocados, tamarillo, lettuce, carrots, peas, ginger, turmeric, pineapple.
- May is an ideal time to dig up, divide and replant perennial food plants such as Queensland arrowroot, Jerusalem artichokes, yacon, lemongrass, oca, chives and globe artichokes. Prepare new planting sites in advance and water in divisions with seaweed extract to help overcome transplant shock.
- In temperate areas plant strawberries. Prepare the soil by forking in well-rotted compost, and create slightly acidic conditions if necessary by adding sulphur, chelated iron, or by adding a 5cm-deep mulch of pine needles.
- Prepare soil now in advance of asparagus and rhubarb planting season in mid-winter. Both plants like similar conditions. Add lashings of compost and well rotted manure, and if drainage is a problem try making raised beds or planting mounds.
- Prune berry canes once fruiting has ceased. Autumn fruiting raspberries can simply be cut back to ground level, but summer fruiting raspberries and blackberries should only have old, spent canes removed. Keep canes that formed over summer for the following fruiting season.
- Dry south westerly winds are starting to blow across much of the continent, causing tender young plants to dehydrate surprisingly fast. Use netting as a wind filter, and pay close attention to plants' water needs. When warm, windy days are predicted, give vulnerable plants a drink first thing in the morning.
- Late autumn is a brilliant time to sow cool season green manures. I like to use a mix of barley for bulk organic matter, vetch or another hardy legume for nitrogen fixing, and mustard for disease suppression. Broadcast seed on levelled soil, rake lightly and water. Keep the bed moist until germination occurs.
- Banksias are flowering around the country at the moment. Enjoy the spectacle, and consider planting a couple in the garden to attract birds and pollinators. My favourite is the coast banksia (Banksia integrifolia), which is suitable for planting anywhere from subtropical to cold temperate areas.
By: Justin Russell
First published: May 2017