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In The Garden: November – February

in-a-garden

Seasonal garden guides for all climates.

COOL TEMPERATE

What to sow:

  • November: Basil, beans, beetroot, cabbage, capsicum, carrot, cauliflower, chives, coriander, cucumber, lemongrass, marjoram, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, tarragon and thyme, English spinach, kohlrabi, leek, lettuce, onion, parsnip, pumpkin, radish, silverbeet, swede, sweet corn, tomato, turnip, zucchini,
  • December: Lettuce, rocket, Asian greens, carrots, beetroot, celery, silverbeet, more leeks and tomatoes, salad onions, sweet corn, zucchini, cucumber, pumpkin, parsnips, celery, celeriac, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and potatoes (such as Kennebecs).
  • January: Carrots, beetroot, radish, turnip, lettuce, Asian greens (e.g. rocket, mizuna, mibuna, mustard, cress), silverbeet, spring onions, bush beans. If you live in a warm spot, try seedlings of late zucchini, cucumber, small pumpkins like Golden Nuggets, sweet corn and even more tomatoes.
  • February: Plant winter vegies including leeks, parsnips, celery, celeriac, Florence Fennel, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower. Garlic is good to go once the weather cools.

What to do:

  • Put up trellises or teepees for climbing plants, so as not to disturb the roots of the plants once they are in full growth. Pinch the lateral shoots out of climbing tomato plants as they grow to encourage fruiting. Thin out crowded clusters of apples and pears for larger fruit.
  • In January and February it’s important to start planting your winter vegies so they have time to get the growth needed before the cooler months slow them down. It’s time to keep up sequential plantings of summer vegies.
  • Raspberries, strawberries, currants and brambles such as loganberries are all ripe for the picking.
  • As the weather warms, give your fruit trees a deep watering and mulch. Add summer weeds to the compost and layer with animal manure. Check for scale on your lemons and olives.
  • In February, collect and compost any fallen fruit or let your chickens or ducks do the work. Fruit fly prone fruit needs to be carefully disposed of.

WARM TEMPERATE

What to sow:

  • November & December: Beans (dwarf and climbing), beetroot, broccoli, cabbage, capsicum, carrot, cauliflower, celery, chicory, chilli, Chinese cabbage, cucumber, eggplant, endive, kohlrabi, leek, lettuce, okra, parsnip, potato (tubers), radish, rhubarb (crowns), shallots, silverbeet, spring onion, tomatillos, sweet corn, sweet potato and zucchini. And the herbs: basil, chives, coriander, fennel, Gotu Kola, heliotrope, lovage, mint, parsley and tarragon.
  • January: At the end of the month plant eggplant, zucchini, cucumber, capsicum, chillies, cherry tomatoes, lemongrass, watermelon, rockmelon and pineapple.
  • February: Again at the end of the month, plant silverbeet, leeks, spring onions, Brussels sprouts, bush beans, broccoli, avocado, cauliflower and celery. Basil is happy to go in now so try some purple, Thai, lemon and sweet varieties. Nasturtium, verbena, petunias and marigolds are great at attracting pollinators and beneficial insects to your patch.

What to do:

  • Keep planting if seedlings have been hardened off. Harvest early tomatoes, berries, young zucchini and squash. Start collecting some seed from your lettuce and rocket or let them self-seed.
  • On non-gardening days construct a couple of shade cloth tents to pop over the sun sensitive vegies like eggplant and capsicum to protect them from intense heat.
  • Your plants will be hungry for a liquid feed so seaweed tea or liquid fertiliser is perfect. Apply to the soil early in the morning.
  • In February, plant a green manure crop to add some life and love to an overworked patch. Try millet, lablab or cowpea. This will improve your soil incredibly. Water smarter at this time of year; first thing in the morning with a deep drink a couple of times a week. Mulch after watering the patch to a depth of about 7 cm, keeping clear of plant stems (especially young seedlings).
  • And need we mention…keep harvesting the bounty!

MEDITERRANEAN

What to sow:

  • November: Seeds of pumpkins, zucchini, cucumbers, beans and melons. Beans, tomato, capsicum, chilli and eggplant. Bush beans need succession planting. Climbing beans like being sown direct and continued over a long period. Citrus trees, passionfruit vines and other subtropicals such as avocadoes and mangoes can be planted.
  • December: Fast-growing vegetables like climbing beans, melons, pumpkins and zucchini, as well as repeat plantings of tomato and corn. Basil seedlings are ready to go out around the tomatoes and eggplant, and capsicum and chilli seedlings can be planted out. Coriander and baby spinach need frequent small plantings and longer shade periods.
  • January: Corn, beans, squash, cucumber, gourds, pumpkins, zucchini and melons from seed. Summer seedlings of chilli, capsicum and eggplant would be best planted now, taking care to choose a location that will receive sun well into autumn. Sweet potato slips (rooted cuttings) grow quickly in the heat but also need a long growing season.
  • February: Asian greens, beetroot, beans, carrots, fennel, horseradish, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, potato, radish, rocket, squash, swede, silverbeet, tomato, turnip and zucchini.

What to do:

  • Strawberries, mulberries and loquats are ready for picking from November. Stone fruits, persimmons, pomegranates, apples and pears start to set so will need the fruit thinned or the branches supported to take the increased weight.
  • Cut back woody capsicum and eggplants to encourage new growth.
  • The next round of lettuces will benefit from partial shade to help prevent sunburn and bolting to seed.
  • Harvesting, harvesting and yes, more harvesting. Check daily for tomatoes, zucchini, beans and berries.
  • Keep newly planted seeds semi-shaded and constantly moist. All vines can be trained to the desired shape to encourage the main branches into their permanent shape, allowing lush growth to bush out later.
  • Summer prune fruit trees in February after harvest, and give a deep soaking and mulch with lucerne. Feed citrus and roses.

SUBTROPICAL

What to sow:

  • November: Artichoke, beans, capsicum, celery, Chinese cabbage, cucumber, eggplant, kohlrabi, leek, lettuce, melons, okra, onion, potato (tubers), silverbeet, spring onion, squash, sweet corn, sweet potato and tomato. Herbs to plant are basil, chives, coriander, fennel, Gotu Kola, heliotrope, lemongrass, mint, parsley and tarragon.
  • December: Amaranth, Brazilian spinach, basil, beetroot, cassava, cape gooseberry, capsicum, Ceylon spinach, cherry tomato, chilli, cucumber, chokos, cosmos, eggplant, French beans, French tarragon, garlic chives, ginger, kangkong, lettuce, luffa, marigold, mustard, nasturtium, okra, passionfruit, pawpaw, pigeon pea, pumpkin, radish, rockmelon, salvia, shallots, snake beans, sunflower, sweet corn, sweet potato, tamarillo, tomato, turmeric, watermelon, zucchini.
  • January: Artichoke, beans, capsicum, celery, Chinese cabbage, cucumber, eggplant, kohlrabi, leek, lettuce, melons, okra, onion, potato (tubers), rosella, silverbeet, spring onion, squash, sweet corn, sweet potato and tomato, basil, chives, coriander, fennel, Gotu Kola, heliotrope, lemongrass, mint, parsley, and tarragon.
  • February: Leeks, capsicum, chillies, cabbage, silverbeet, lettuce, sweet corn, cauliflower, broccoli and tomatoes towards the end of the month for winter. Also bananas, pineapples and mangoes.

What to do:

  • November and December are a hot time to be gardening, but first thing in the morning or much later in the day are the best times.
  • Cucumbers and cherry tomatoes can climb together, whilst underneath in their shade you can plant Welsh onions, greens and parsley.
  • In January loosen the compacted soil to let more air and moisture penetrate to activate soil life. Top-dress with compost and manure, watering it with comfrey tea. The last layer to add is a thick covering of mulch.
  • Harvest, harvest, preserve and feast.

TROPICAL

What to sow:

  • November: Capsicum, eggplant, okra, cowpeas, ginger root, turmeric, Thai coriander, galangal, mustard greens (Gai Choy), sweet corn and barleycorn. Snake beans and pigeon peas grow well in the wet season. Ceylon spinach can be grown well from seed but cuttings will work too. Crowns of sweet potato can also be planted, so plant a new row every two or three weeks for harvesting throughout the year.
  • December: Soybeans are best planted in early December. Summer greens such as red and green mustards, tatsoi, sorrel, silverbeet, pea eggplant or okra.
  • January: Plant seeds for snake beans, winged beans, mung beans, peanuts, Asian greens, Komatsuna mustard, okra and marigolds. Plant corms for taro and rhizomes for ginger, turmeric, galangal, temulawak, sand ginger and Chinese keys in a shady spot.
  • February: Planting is difficult when the rains are torrential. Lotus seeds can be germinated in a bottle of water; they need to be scarified first. Separate clumps of garlic chives and onion chives and plant them out.

What to do:

  • Think of plants which will provide food even after a cyclone: sweet potatoes, cassava and West Indian arrowroot will provide starchy vegetables.
  • Continue to add mulch and manure to your raised beds as it will decompose quickly in the wet season. Plant straight into them so that when the nutrients are released, the plants gobble them all up.
  • Harvest and process the last of the tomatoes and clean up the area. Feed all fallen fruit to chooks, pigs and worms. Any produce infested with fruit fly can be solarised.
  • The main fruit crops in December are mangoes, bananas, pineapple, pawpaw, water apple and Saba Nut. Mangoes can be dried or frozen for a year-round supply.
  • In January fertilise regularly with weak liquid fertiliser, as nutrients are washed away by the heavy rain. Mulch any uncovered ground.
  • Plant green manure crops where possible to get stem cuttings of cassava, aibika and sweet leaf. Bury short pieces of stem with three nodes under the earth’s surface.
  • Harvest young fruit of the white eggplant, okra, capsicum and snake beans regularly to keep the plant fruiting. Process as many mangoes and lychees as possible while they are in season.

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