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planting beetroot seedlings

What to plant in August

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To know what to sow now, wherever you are across Oz, check out JUSTIN RUSSELL's guide to August planting.  

In cold and warm temperate climates the soil is at it’s coldest point for the year although recent warmth suggests an early spring. Thinking about sowing seed of tomatoes, chillies, pumpkins, sweetcorn? Think again. They need warm soil (about 18ºC) to germinate, so unless you have a polytunnel, hothouse or heated propagating tray, you’ll risk losing them. It’s better to wait a few weeks until the soil is warmer. 

What you can start now are spring vegies, things that enjoy cool to mildly warm weather, aren’t troubled by late frosts and grow relatively fast. Think spinach, peas, turnips, kale, broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, Asian greens, mustard, silverbeet, carrots, beetroot and radishes. In frost free coastal areas consider making a start on planting potatoes.

August is also the last call for planting bare rooted trees and shrubs. If your soil is of good quality, you don’t need to add anything to the planting hole, but if it’s poor, get in some very well rotted manure or compost. Before planting, tidy up any broken roots with sharp secateurs, and give them a half hour soak in a bucket containing seaweed extract to rehydrate. 

August is a tricky month in arid and semi arid zones. The days are often warm and sunny, but nights can still dip to below zero. Try getting in some fast growers such as radishes, turnips, Asian greens, mustard, lettuce, Florence fennel and rocket. If you’re prepared to protect new shoots from late frost, it’s also time to get in some seed potatoes.

In the frost-free subtropics start planting spring and summer vegies such as tomatoes, sweetcorn, zucchini, climbing beans, cucumber, carrots, lettuces, basil, potatoes, and beetroot. Wait until the weather is very warm in spring to start sowing genuine heat lovers such as capsicums, eggplants, pumpkins, and watermelons. 

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