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What to plant in January

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Justin Russell reminds us that the summer solstice has passed and the sun is lowering in the sky.

Compliments of the season, fellow organic gardeners. I trust you enjoyed yourselves over the last month and are as enthused about 2019 as I am!

The summer solstice has passed, the sun is now lowering in the sky. This means that  for those of us in temperate climates, the big summer planting window is closing and a new window – autumn and early winter – is opening. Once the  current extreme heat passes, my fallow beds will soon be filled with an array of cooler season crops in addition to a few things that continue to thrive until our first frost clears the decks in May (or earlier with our changing climate). I’m excited about the possibilities.

Those of you in the northern tropics ought to be excited too. At lease those who have received epic, river filling rainfall, and while it’s not great planting weather at the moment, opportunities are likely to arise once the current monsoon cycle passes. To be on the safe side, stick to planting wet season crops like amaranth, kang kong, Ceylon spinach, asparagus pea, sweetcorn, taro, and the nutritional powerhouse, mushroom plant.

In the subtropics, plant anything from the list above, plus more “traditional” summer veg such as eggplants, capsicum, chilli, lettuce, basil, bush and climbing beans, and zucchini. But be prepared to protect them from the heat.

To those of you in arid/semi-arid areas, a massive congratulations if your garden was lucky enough to get a drink a few weeks ago. The chances are the soil will be dry again, so if you can irrigate, then plant sweetcorn, zucchini, basil, tomato, tomatillo, cucumber, beans, silverbeet, summer squash and watermelon.

In temperate climates, planting this month is about the present, and the future. To make the most of late summer and early autumn, plant basil, corn, cherry and other more cold tolerant tomatoes, lettuce, silverbeet, zucchini, squash, and chilli. Again, create shade where needed to protect young seedlings from intense heat. With a nod to autumn and early winter plant broccoli, beetroot, carrot, parsnip, leek, Florence fennel, turnip, peas, kohlrabi, kale, mustard, coriander and Asian greens such as wombok, choy sum, and bok choy.