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In The Garden: February-May

Seasonal garden guides for Australian climates

COOL TEMPERATE

in-a-garden

IN THE GARDEN

Words By Fabian Capomolla

What to sow

FEBRUARY

Plant winter vegies including broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, celeriac, celery, Florence fennel, leek (seedlings) and parsnip. Once the weather starts to cool, get your garlic in the ground.

MARCH

Brussels sprouts (seedlings), broad beans, beetroot, broccoli (seedlings), cabbage (seedling), carrot, chives, coriander, daikon radish, endive, fennel, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, mizuna, mustard greens, pak choy/bok choy, radish, rocket, shallots (plant bulbs), silverbeet and turnip. March is a good time to plant vegies that need a long growing season.

APRIL

Brussels sprouts, broad beans, beetroot, broccoli, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, chives, endive, fennel, garlic (plant cloves), kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, mizuna, mustard greens, onions, pak choy/bok choy, parsley, peas, radish, rocket, shallots (plant bulbs), silverbeet, spinach and turnip.

MAY

Broad beans, beetroot, carrot, chives, fennel, garlic, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, mizuna, mustard greens, onions, parsley, peas, radish, shallots (plant bulbs), silverbeet, spinach and turnip.

What to do

Start seeding your winter vegies so they have time to get the growth needed before the cooler months slow them down. Make the most of your summer crop by preserving and pickling. March is a great time to make passata.

Feed the soil by removing spent crops and adding good quality compost into the garden beds. As the season ages, remove mulch to cool soil for the incoming winter crops.

Chillies will be ripe on the plants, so remove and dry them before cutting plants back to overwinter them.

Autumn fruits such as figs and persimmons will start to appear. Net trees to keep the birds at bay. Pears and apples should be in abundance, so it’s prime time for homemade cider. As winter approaches, remove remaining tomatoes from the vine and ripen indoors.

Feed the soil with nitrogen by planting winter crops of broad beans and peas. Save seeds from last season’s crops and store in a dry, dark spot in preparation for sowing later in the year. Harvest and dry summer herbs.

Companion-plant your brassica crops with white flowering plants to confuse the cabbage white moth. Net young seedlings with superfine mesh to inhibit moths from laying eggs on the underside of the foliage. Cut back on watering and remove mulch from around plants if the garden is starting to get waterlogged.

WARM TEMPERATE

Words By Alison Mellor

What to sow

FEBRUARY

Towards the end of the month, plant avocado, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, bush beans, cauliflower, celery, leek, silverbeet and spring onion. Basil is happy to be planted now, so try some different varieties such as purple, Thai and lemon, as well as sweet.

MARCH

Beetroot, broad beans, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, coriander, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, parsley, potato, radish and rocket.

APRIL

Broad beans, broccoli, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, celery, coriander, garlic, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, onions, as well as snow and podded peas.

MAY

Broad beans, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kohlrabi, Red Russian kale, as well as snow, podded and sweet peas.

What to do

Clear finished summer crops and prepare the beds for winter crops by incorporating compost or building up the beds, no-dig gardening style.

Sow or plant some alyssum and sweet peas for winter colour. In May, cut back spent perennial herbs such as sages and echinacea. Check young brassicas for the eggs and caterpillars of cabbage white butterflies and squash or remove them. Or you can set up a growing area, with fine netting to keep the butterflies out. Feed brassicas with seaweed solution every couple of weeks.

Harvest basil and get busy making pesto. Be sure to leave some basil to go to flower – the bees love it! Let some of your bean pods fully mature, then dry out the seeds to save for next summer. Harvest mature pumpkins, leaving a few centimetres of stalk attached to each vegetable so it keeps longer.

May is a great time to plan garden building projects. Harvest bamboo to dry and use as stakes for supporting tomato and bean plants in the summer.

MEDITERRANEAN

Words By Nadja Osterstock

What to sow

FEBRUARY

Asian greens, beans, beetroot, carrot, fennel, horseradish, kohlrabi, leek, lettuce, potato, radish, rocket, silverbeet, squash, swede, tomato, turnip and zucchini.

MARCH

Asian greens, beans, broccoli, cabbage, carrot, celeriac, celery, horseradish, kale, leek, lettuce, radish, rocket, silverbeet, spinach, swede, turnip and watercress.

APRIL

Artichoke, asparagus crowns, beetroot, broad beans, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, celeriac, celery, endive, kale, kohlrabi, leek, lettuce, onion, radish, rocket, silverbeet, spinach, swede, turnip and watercress.

MAY

Artichoke, asparagus crowns, beetroot, broad beans, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, celeriac, celery, endive, kale, kohlrabi, leek, lettuce, onion, radish, rocket, silverbeet, spinach, swede, turnip and watercress.

What to do

As days begin to become shorter and the heat loses its intensity, remove protective shading. In March and April, feed citrus while there’s still enough warm weather for them to use it, especially if they are planted in pots.

Watch for vines beginning to die back and knock on melons to see if they sound hollow, this will indicate they’re ripe and ready to harvest. Cut pumpkins with plenty of stalk and let them cure for a few weeks before using or storing over winter. Curing hardens skins, heals wounds and improves flavour.

Spread mature compost around fruit trees, dig it into vegetable beds and use a small amount to make compost tea for liquid plant feeds. Water compost well into the soil; especially if soil has become hydrophobic over a long dry summer. Order bare-rooted deciduous trees for planting in winter and get the soil ready now to plant in June.

Nurture leafy greens with liquid fertilisers such as a seaweed solution, weed tea, worm wee, etc., watering over the whole plant for both a foliar and root feed to ensure maximum absorption.

ARID

Words By Alex McClean

What to sow

FEBRUARY

Asian greens, basil, beetroot, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, capsicum, carrot, coriander, cucumber, leek, onion, potato, silverbeet, sweet corn and tomatoes.

MARCH

Asian greens, beans, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, swede, parsnip, peas and potato. Keep planting beetroot, carrot, parsley, tomato, radish, silverbeet and sweet corn.

APRIL

Asian greens, beans, beetroot, broccoli, carrot, cauliflower, celery, chives, coriander, kale, leek, lettuce, onion, parsley, parsnip, peas, radish, silverbeet, shallot, spinach, spring onion and swede.

MAY

Asian greens, kale, leek, parsnip, peas and turnip. Start planting artichoke and rhubarb now and peep planting Asian greens, beetroot, broccoli, carrot, lettuce, onion, parsley, radish, silverbeet and shallots.

What to do

In February, clear out harvested beds, adding organic matter or fertiliser to the soil. This is a great time of year to plant native flowering annuals like Sturt’s Desert Pea. Deciduous fruit trees can be lightly pruned.

Set irrigation to an autumn setting as the first signs of the cooler weather arrive. Autumn is also a great time for planting fruit trees and natives, which will give them six full months of cool weather before next summer arrives. Citrus, mulberry, figs, olives and passionfruit all prefer to be planted out at this time of year.

Finish as much autumn vegetable planting as you can before the first frosts arrive in early May. April is a great month for pruning and feeding citrus and other evergreen fruit trees. Prune lightly and feed one-third of annual requirements (the other two-thirds can be applied in spring). Make sure any frost-tender plants are protected if you’re south of the Tropic of Capricorn, as the first frosts can arrive in early May.

Prepare holes early for midwinter planting of deciduous fruit trees and grape vines; this will bear great results down the track.

SUBTROPICAL

Words By Morag Gamble

What to sow

FEBRUARY

Broccoli, cabbage, capsicum, cauliflower, chilli, leek, lettuce, silverbeet, sweet corn and tomatoes towards the end of the month. It’s also a good time for banana, pineapple and mango.

MARCH

Beetroot, beans, broad beans, capsicum, carrot, coriander, cucumber, eggplant, fennel, leek (seedlings), lettuce, okra and pak choy. Potato, radish, rosella, rocket, silverbeet, spring onion, sweet potato, tomato and zucchini.

APRIL

Beetroot, beans, broad beans, capsicum, carrot, coriander, cucumber, eggplant, fennel, leek (seedlings), lettuce, okra, onion, pak choy, peas (climbing, sugar snap and snow), potato, radish, rosella, rocket, silverbeet, spring onion, sweet potato, as well as tomato and zucchini.

MAY

Beetroot, beans, broad beans, capsicum, carrot, cucumber, eggplant, garlic, leek (seedlings), lettuce, okra, onion, pak choy and peas (climbing, sugar snap and snow), potato, radish, rosella, rocket, silverbeet, spring onion, strawberries, sweet potato, tomato and zucchini.

What to do

Top-dress soil with compost and manure and water in – comfrey tea is good – before covering with a thick layer of mulch. From March onwards, finish clearing summer weeds, then also mulch before winter weeds get a foothold. Plant winter tomatoes in a spot where they will get at least six hours of direct sunlight daily.

Divide and transplant overgrown perennials. Propagate herbs and shrubs from cuttings. Feed leafy greens with a liquid fertiliser.

TROPICAL

Words By Emma Lupin

What to sow

FEBRUARY

Planting is difficult when the rains are torrential. Lotus seeds can be germinated in a bottle of water, but they need to be scarified first. Separate clumps of garlic and onion chives and plant them out.

MARCH

Abika, basil (Thai, sweet and lemon), bok choy, Brazilian spinach, cassava, Ceylon spinach, chilli, coriander, choy sum, eggplant, galangal, garlic chives, ginger, kale, mint, mustard greens, okra, oregano, pak choy, snake beans, sweet potato, taro, turmeric and yam beans.

APRIL

Abika, basil (Thai, sweet and lemon), beans (snow and green), bok choy, Brazilian spinach, cassava, Ceylon spinach, chilli, choy sum, coriander, corn, cucumber, eggplant, galangal, garlic chives, ginger, kale, mint, mustard greens, okra, oregano, pak choy, parsley, snake beans, sweet potato, radish, rocket, squash, taro, tomatoes, turmeric, yam beans and zucchini.

MAY

Abika, basil (Thai, sweet and lemon), beans (snow and green), bok choy, Brazilian spinach, cassava, Ceylon spinach, chilli, choy sum, coriander, corn, cucumber, eggplant, galangal, garlic chives, ginger, honeydew melon, kale, mint, mustard greens, okra, oregano, pak choy, parsley, pumpkin, snake beans, sweet potato, radish, rocket, squash, taro, tomatoes, turmeric, watermelon, yam beans and zucchini. May is also a good time for nasturtiums, sunflowers and zinnias.

What to do

Continue to add mulch and manure to your raised beds as it will decompose quickly in the wet season. The end of March will be a good time to prune fruit trees, particularly citrus. Rain will be lessening, so top-mulch garden beds with hay to keep moisture in.

Start planning for the drier months, harvesting all the many wet-season wonders including snake beans, wing beans, okra, chillies and eggplants. Cut off the greenmanure crops (such as mung beans) to add into the beds. April and May are great times to dig up root vegetables, such as sweet potatoes and cassava and replace with dry-season crops. Keep some cuttings going for the wet season in a smaller area of the garden.

Keep the water volume up and make sure all the correct crops are in full sun for best growth. This time of year, wicking beds can be used to save water, as can windbreaks to keep south-easterly winds from drying out the plants.

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