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Artichoke division

What to plant in May

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Take advantage of forecast rain this month with JUSTIN RUSSELL's planting tips for a wide range of perennial and annual crops.

What an autumn it’s turning out to be. Temperature records have fallen like Game of Thrones characters in March and April, and with the BOM predicting above average temperatures for the coming month across the entire country, there may be plenty more carnage to come. If you are wondering what a changed climate will be like, this autumn is an early taste. 

The good news is that the whopper El Nino is breaking down, and the rainfall forecast for the next few months is looking very positive. This outlook presents the best late autumn planting opportunity in years, so my advice is to really get stuck in now with a flurry of activity, then spend a wet winter hibernating and enjoying some alternative pursuits beyond the garden. 

My focus at the moment is on perennial food plants, and these are the ideal things to plant ahead of a wet winter. The extra rainfall allows plants to settle in gently, and as long as your soil drains well, there’s little risk that plants will rot (though the converse is true – wet winters can saturate poorly drained soils and this will cause rot).  

In cold temperate and warm temperate climates try planting or dividing perennials such as globe artichokes, Jerusalem artichokes, Queensland arrowroot, walking onions, multiplier leeks, rhubarb, perennial rocket, lovage, sorrel, horseradish, herbs (such as oregano, chives, rosemary, tarragon, mint), and strawberries. 

In arid/semi-arid areas, the subtropics and tropics plant/divide Jerusalem artichokes, lemongrass, Queensland arrowroot, Welsh spring onions, walking onions, multiplier leeks, potato, sweet potato, warrigal greens, and Peruvian parsnips. 

As for annual vegies, the list is shrinking in arid/semi-arid and temperate climates, but expanding in subtropical and tropical climates. 

In frost-prone areas, plant spinach, onions, broad beans, lettuce, mustard, Asian greens, coriander, radishes, and turnips. In frost free subtropical and tropical areas plant a wide range of traditional veg including salad greens, kale, beetroot, broccoli, cabbage, carrot, celeriac, coriander, fennel,  mustard, peas, radishes, rocket, shallots, silverbeet and turnips. 

Happy planting!