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Eggplant harvest

Planting tips for October

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In many areas, October has bid farewell to spring but hasn't fully welcomed summer. JUSTIN RUSSELL shares his tips on what to plant now. 

At this time of year, those of you who garden in southern Australia and Tasmania are probably more than happy to see some sunny weather, which will help the soil dry out enough for planting to begin.

In central Australia it’s starting to get blisteringly hot. In the tropics, it’s always hot.

Wherever you live, it’s time to seize the day. Don’t hold off. Get some plants in the ground, be nimble in your approach to the weather and adapt as necessary.  

In cold temperate climates and the frostiest parts of the warm temperate, arid and semi-arid zones, October is a major planting month. Bear in mind, however, that should wait until your final frost date has passed and then go for broke! Plant potatoes, tomatoes, bush and climbing beans, zucchinis, capsicum, chillies, basil, eggplants, cucumbers, pumpkins, melons, and corn. If your soil remains cool, start the seeds in a warm greenhouse or use a heat pad to provide bottom warmth.  

You can also sow “shoulder season” crops – those that produce a quick return between seasons. Try lettuce, radish, turnip, Asian greens, mustard, chicory, endive, rocket, silverbeet and chard. Grow them fast in rich soil with plenty of water. Don’t forget that there’s still time to plant slightly slower growers such as bush peas, carrots, beetroot, leeks, spring onions, broccoli and cabbage. 

In the subtropics and tropics try capsicum and chillies, peanuts, corn, okra, cardamom, melons, eggplant, summer squash, Madagascar beans, Malabar spinach, kangkong and starch staples such as yams, arrowroot, cassava, taro and sweet potato.  

As for fruit, plant citrus, mango, avocado, tamarillo and pawpaw trees now in warmer areas, ensuring you prepare the soil with plenty of rotted manure and compost. In all but the coldest and hottest climates you can get in mulberries, figs, persimmons, feijoas, and pomegranates. Try berries, stonefruit, grapes, nut trees and pome fruit in cooler areas.