In The Garden: November – February

Seasonal garden guides for all climates

COOL TEMPERATE

Words by Fabian Capomolla

What to sow:

  • November: Basil, beans, beetroot, cabbage, capsicum, carrot, cauliflower, chives, coriander, cucumber, English spinach, kohlrabi, leek, lemongrass, lettuce, marjoram, mint, onion, oregano, parsley, parsnip, pumpkin, radish, rosemary, silverbeet, swede, sweet corn, tarragon, tomato, turnip, thyme and zucchini.
  • December: Asian greens, beetroot, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celeriac, celery, cucumber, leeks, lettuce, parsnips, potatoes (such as Kennebec), pumpkin, rocket, salad onions, silverbeet, sweet corn, tomatoes and zucchini.
  • January: Asian greens (e.g. rocket, mizuna, mibuna, mustard, cress), beetroot, bush beans, carrots, lettuce, radish, silverbeet, spring onions and turnip. 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 broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, celeriac, celery, Florence fennel, leeks and parsnips. 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 the 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

Words by Alison Mellor

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 capsicum, cherry tomatoes, chillies, cucumber, eggplant, lemongrass, pineapple, rockmelon, watermelon and zucchini.
  • February: Again, at the end of the month, plant avocado, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, bush beans, cauliflower, celery, leeks, silverbeet and spring onions. 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 seeds from your lettuce and rocket or let them self-seed.
  • On non-gardening days, construct a couple of shadecloth 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

Words by Nadja Osterstock

What to sow:

  • November: Seeds of beans, cucumbers, melons, pumpkins and zucchini. Beans, capsicum, chilli, eggplant and tomato. 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: Beans, corn, cucumber, gourds, melons, pumpkin, squash and zucchini from seed. Summer seedlings of capsicum, chilli 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, beans, beetroot, carrots, fennel, horseradish, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, potato, radish, rocket, silverbeet, squash, swede, tomato, turnip and zucchini.

What to do:

  • Strawberries, mulberries and loquats are read 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 eggplant 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.

ARID

Words by Alex McClean

What to sow:

  • November: Basil, capsicum, carrot, coriander, cucumber, eggplant, kale, leek, melons, parsley, potato, pumpkin, radish, silverbeet, squash and sweet corn.
  • December: Basil, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrot, coriander, leek, radish, silverbeet, sweet corn.
  • January: Basil, beetroot, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, corn, cucumber, eggplant, melons, silverbeet, sweet corn and tomatoes.
  • February: Basil, beetroot, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, capsicum, carrot, Chinese greens, coriander, cucumber, leeks, onions, potatoes, silverbeet, sweet corn and tomatoes.

What to do:

  • Automatic irrigation is crucial in the arid zone summers. Make sure it’s on a summer setting, as the hot weather will have set in now. Irrigate before 8 am or after 8 pm to reduce evaporation.
  • In summer-rain–dominated areas (north of the Tropic of Capricorn), make use of heavy downpours to flush salt build-up from irrigation out of your garden beds. Anything planted from now on will need extra care: shade, deep mulch and a good dose of liquid fertiliser at planting.
  • Watch out for pest attacks, especially grasshoppers. Treat quickly using netting, molasses traps and hungry chickens. Keep an eye on ants in your fruit trees as they may signal the presence of sap suckers like aphids and mealy bug.
  • December is usually a quiet month for planting so take the time to tidy up a few jobs: deep mulch all of your beds and trees (keeping away from the trunks of citrus to avoid collar rot) and make sure your shade is in place.
  • Be vigilant in picking up fallen or affected fruit to prevent fruit fly and consider putting out traps and bagging fruit to make sure it doesn’t spoil.
  • Watch out for couch grass after summer rains. Best to get onto this by hand early, as established couch grass will be hard to get rid of without herbicide.
  • When you plant out seedlings in January, keep them shaded for at least a week. Pumpkin, cucumber, melons, and tomatoes may need hand pollinating, and tomatoes can be shaded to aid fruit set. Turn melons to avoid rot and sunburn.
  • Get cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli in the ground early to make sure you are harvesting when the cold weather comes. The summer heat is a great time for propagating natives from seed too, so prepare now for autumn plantings.
  • In February, clear out harvested beds, giving everything some compost and/or fertiliser. This is a great time of year to plant native flowering annuals (Sturt’s desert pea, etc.). Deciduous fruit trees can be lightly pruned.

SUBTROPICAL

Words by Morag Gamble

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, basil, beetroot, Brazilian spinach, cape gooseberry, capsicum, cassava, Ceylon spinach, cherry tomato, chilli, chokos, cosmos, cucumber, 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 and 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. Herbs to plant are basil, chives, coriander, fennel, gotu kola, heliotrope, lemongrass, mint, parsley and tarragon.
  • February: Broccoli, cabbage, capsicum, cauliflower, chillies, leeks, lettuce, silverbeet, sweet corn 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; 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, preserve and feast.

TROPICAL

Words by Emma Lupin

What to sow:

  • November: Barleycorn, capsicum, cowpeas, eggplant, galangal, ginger root, mustard greens (gai choy), okra, sweet corn, Thai coriander and turmeric. 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 okra, pea eggplant, red and green mustards, silverbeet, sorrel and tatsoi.
  • January: Plant seeds for Asian greens, Komatsuna mustard, marigolds, okra, peanuts, snake beans and winged beans. Plant corms for taro and rhizomes for Chinese keys, galangal, ginger, sand ginger, temulawak and turmeric in a shady spot.
  • 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 chives and onion chives and plant them out.

What to do:

  • Think of plants that 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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