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Spring Onion

Planting ideas for September

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JUSTIN RUSSELL emerges from his winter slumber to get stuck into some cautious spring planting. 

I can understand people’s excitement at this time of the year. In many parts of Australia the winter woolies are being packed away, the weather is deliciously warm and the garden is abuzz with birds and bees. But when it comes to September planting, I prefer a steady as she goes approach.

In temperate climates the soil is still pretty cold, late frosts can pop up after a run of warm days and rain might be in scarce supply, depending on where you live. There’s no rush to get summer crops in the ground. My mantra in September is simple: Time lost at the start of the season is regained by the end. If you’re desperate to get warm season crops in like tomatoes, your best bet is to start them indoors where they are protected or use a heated propagating mat/tray. Be prepared to protect them on cold nights, and plant seedlings out in the open  when the risk of frost has passed. 

The kind of veg you can go to town with in September is “shoulder” season stuff like spinach, peas, turnips, kale, broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, Asian greens, mustard, silverbeet, carrots, beetroot and radishes. It’s also a good time to plant herbs such as rosemary, thyme and parsley, and perennials such as rhubarb and globe artichokes. And of course spring onions. They’re the easiest onions to grow and are absolutely made for planting in September!

In arid and semi arid zones it’s getting warm enough to plant early summer veg such as bush and climbing beans, corn, tomatoes, tomatillos, basil, beetroot, silverbeet, lettuce, potatoes, carrots, parsnips and zucchini. Hold off on capsicums, eggplants, and cucurbits like watermelons, cucumbers and pumpkins until next month. 

In the frost-free subtropics you can get stuck into planting heat lovers such as capsicums, eggplants, tomatillos, pumpkins, and watermelons. These all need warm soil to germinate, and tend to grow well in the spring dry season with supplemental irrigation as required. It’s also a great time to plant citrus trees, guavas and other subtropical fruiting evergreens.  

In the tropics, it’s a good time to get in a fresh sowing of sweetcorn, basil and okra, along with perennials such as sweet potato, yam, taro, cape gooseberry, lemongrass and passionfruit.