Seasonal garden guides for all climates.
by Christina Giudici
What to sow:
• July: English spinach, peas and broad beans, spring onions and radishes. Divide and share, perennials such as rhubarb, asparagus, Jerusalem artichokes, globe artichokes, chives, garlic chives, horseradish, potato onions and shallots. Propagate cane fruit like raspberries, currants, gooseberries and silvan berries and loganberries.
• August: Potatoes, peas, broad beans, spring onions, Jerusalem artichokes, rhubarb divisions, chive divisions, oca (a tuberous oxalis relative that grows like a potato). And all the leafy greens: lettuce, rocket, Asian greens, celery and English spinach. In raised beds and warm spots start succession sowings of carrot, beetroot and turnips.
• September: Leafy greens, peas and broad beans. Roots like carrots, parsnip, beetroot, turnips and swedes, celery and silverbeet (or rainbow chard), brassicas like broccoli and cabbage, leeks, and the ubiquitous spring onions and radish. Chunky things too like potatoes, Jerusalem artichokes, rhubarb and asparagus crowns. Start planting seeds of summer vegies such as tomatoes, pumpkin, zucchini, capsicum and sweetcorn in pots on a windowsill or greenhouse.
• October: The best time to plant tomatoes is when the soil has warmed up a bit and the risk of a late frost is nearly nil. (Look for self-sown tomato or sunflower seedlings emerging). Capsicum, chilli, basil, eggplant, rockmelon, watermelon, summer variety of beans, pumpkin and sweet corn. Plant corn in blocks (3 x 3 plants minimum) as block design helps maximise the chance of pollination.
What to do:
• July is a good time to clean and tidy your strawberry beds. If your plants are a few years old, snip off the runners and give them away. If they’re four years or older, it’s best to replace them with new plants.
• In July and August you should finish off your winter pruning of apple and pear trees. Keep your garlic and other onion family plants weeded.
• Weeds tend to surge in spring and all of the overwintered brassicas, rocket, silverbeet, celery and leeks get feisty, sending up flower stalks. You’ll have a large amount of biomass for compost fodder just when it’s a great time to use up the last of your old compost around summer plants – perfect!
• September is a great time to feed everything. The complex web of life in healthy soil is constantly breaking down old organic matter making the nutrients available to plants. Try to use organic fertilisers and compost, animal manures, worm castings and worm wee, rock dust, seaweed products and compost tea to give the soil a balanced menu.
by Gnomes Farming Co-op
What to do:
• July: asparagus crowns, strawberries, peas and the last of your late onions.
• August: Once the risk of frost has largely passed you can begin to sow seed potatoes. Radishes, shallots, coriander, pak choi, leek, spring onion, kale, tatsoi, chives, spinach and rocket can also be sown. Basil can be started indoors on a sunny windowsill.
• September: beetroot, kohlrabi, sugar beet, carrots, lettuce, mizuna, silverbeet, parsley, dill. Amaranth can be started indoors.
• October: tomatoes, eggplant, cucumber, pumpkin, zucchini and melons can be started in a warm spot (a sunny windowsill or greenhouse) later in the month.
What to sow:
• In July get excited about spring coming, and begin planning your sowing and succession. Dig in late-autumn-sown green manures.
• Remove winter crops as they finish in August and begin a schedule of hot composting to get ready for spring and summer planting.
• In September keep an eye on brassicas for mealy aphids and cabbage moth. Hand removal is best as it allows you to avoid beneficial insects who are likely to be attacking pests at the same time as you are! Also hill up early sown potatoes as they grow.
• In October ensure your irrigation system is working. Begin mulching from the end of October as the weather heats up.
by Nadja Osterstock
What to sow:
• July: Most deciduous fruit and nut trees are now dormant and leafless, ready for winter pruning, planting or transplanting. If you have a sheltered spot or your nights aren’t too chilly, it’s worth putting in a few potatoes, onions and garlic, and green manuring any vacant vegetable beds.
• August: asparagus and rhubarb can be divided and transplanted. Keep planting successive crops of all types of peas. Green manure crops should be dug in before they flower and set seed (unless you’ve decided to keep those broad beans for eating).
• September and October: broccoli, kale, spinach, Asian greens, leek, radish, spinach, silverbeet, parsley, coriander, rocket and lettuces; loose leaf types allow you to pick the outside leaves while they keep on growing.
• October: start planting beans (both bush and climbing types), beetroot and carrots. Pumpkins, squash, corn/ maize, melons and cucumbers can be sown directly in succession planting over the next few months. Sow corn either in a block or in a patch shared with squash and beans for the traditional ‘three sisters’ planting guild. Plant seeds of tomatoes, chilli, capsicum and eggplant in protected seedling trays. Transplant into larger pots when they have a couple of sets of true leaves, then gradually harden them into open garden conditions and finally plant out when the soil has warmed.
What to do:
• In July hill up potatoes, leaving a few pairs of leaves protruding on each plant. Leeks can be backfilled as they grow, to produce long white stems. Leafy greens already established will benefit from fortnightly liquid fertilisers. Check the soil moisture, as despite the cold there may not have been enough rain to keep vegetables wellwatered. Harvest peas daily to keep them coming, and provide support as they grow taller.
• In August you should get in before the spring weeds take off. Pull them out or sheet mulch over them. Add organic matter to the soil ready for planting spring vegetables, citrus and other evergreen trees and vines. Finish winter pruning of stone fruit trees at the beginning of a fine spell, so the wounds can dry out and resist fungal infection. Deciduous trees can be grafted this month.
• In September you can dig in green manure crops, whip out weeds before they set seed and hot compost old mulch from the vegie garden to break the pest cycle and help the soil to absorb spring sunshine. Catch and squash caterpillars, or feed them to a friendly chook or magpie.
• Thin out stone fruit as they set in October, to improve fruit quality and protect branches from breaking. Mulch garden beds as the weather warms up. Check drip irrigation to ensure it’s working effectively and extend it to new plantings.
by Morag Gamble
What to sow:
• July: salad greens like lettuce, coriander, rocket, peas, onions, leeks, shallots, kale, beetroot, daikon, radish, kohlrabi, purple top turnips, Asian greens and mustard greens.
• August: basil, beans, beetroot, bok choy, pak choy, cucumber, eggplant, kohlrabi, melons, okra, pumpkin, potato, spring onions and tomatoes. Don’t forget to interplant with some colourful flowers such as amaranth, cosmos and salvia sunflower.
• September: basil, beans, beetroot, bok choy, pak choy, cucumber, eggplant, kohlrabi, melons, okra, pumpkin, potato, spring onions and tomatoes, rosella, sweet potato, yac.n and oca.
• October: basil, beans, beetroot, bok choy, pak choy, cucumber, eggplant, kohlrabi, melons, okra, pumpkin, potato, spring onions and tomatoes, rosella, sweet potato, yac.n, oca and choko.
What to do:
• Replenish washed-out soils in July. Fork open areas that feel compacted, gently lifting but not turning. Grow green manures and mulch crops, compost your garden’s summer abundance, and gather resources for the spring garden. July is also the time for citrus pruning, so look for dead and damaged branches, removing shoots that sprout from below the graft. Remove lower branches that drag on the soil when laden with fruit, and check for gall wasp attack (swellings on stems), removing and burning these before spring.
• In August start focusing on feeding the soil so that you’re supporting diverse and abundant soil life, which helps control many diseases and pests. Increase organic matter in the soil by adding a cover crop around fruit trees, digging in green manures and forking soil to aerate it. Citrus trees have been hard at work producing an abundance of fruit so it’s a good idea to feed them well and give a good soak. Leggy herbs should be getting a good trim now too so they’ll be ready for a new burst of growth.
• In September keep an eye on weeds and pests, as they can begin to proliferate as the weather warms up. Especially watch out for cabbage moth and mealy aphids on any summer brassicas. Ensure drip irrigation is in working order and ready for the summer.
• In October continue to keep weeds and warm weather pests under control. Fertilise fruit trees with potash to improve taste, flowering and plant health.
by Kathleen Hosking
What to sow:
• July: Mediterranean herbs love this weather, so plant in full sun. Plant Surinam spinach and Okinawa spinach in the shade of a north side fence.
• August: Plant the last crop of lettuce, endive, Chinese cabbage and other fast growing greens. Radishes and carrots still have time to crop before the weather heats up. Onion bulbs and horseradish can also be ordered now and planted out.
• August–October: Plant and look after asparagus, turmeric, galangal and ginger rhizomes, and water chestnut bulbs.
• September: Pumpkin planted now will likely provide for Christmas dinner, as can other summer crops like tomatoes and sweet corn. There is much that can be planted at this time of year, but be aware that some crops will be lost if there is an early wet season.
• October: Rocket, turmeric, cassava, mustard, tatsoi and miner’s lettuce will all tolerate the build up to wet season. Darwin lettuce is a more traditional option that does well at this time of the year.
What to do:
• In July you should fertilise fruit trees with potash to improve fruiting and plant strength.
• In August be sure to maintain mulch and monitor soil moisture levels. Water fruit trees regularly to maintain moisture levels. Brassicas are coming to the end of their life and can now be composted.
• Trim and use any straggly looking plants as mulch in September, as they will be putting on their spring growth when the weather warms and humidity starts rising. Bag any fruit susceptible to fruit flies. Fertilise fruit trees with potash for sweet fruit and strong tissue.
• In October clear any overgrowth or overhanging plants along the fence line. Cut sweetleaf to ground level so that fresh growth is generated; this encourages a bushier growth habit. Maintain fertiliser routines, and water well before applying fertiliser.