Now, Spring is more than a hint. The warming days, the gardening days are here again and this is the month to fully ponder the adage: as you sow, so shall you reap. There is a wide choice of flowers to plant this month and the vegetable possibilities are as vast as your merchants’ seed racks.
The practice of serious gardeners is to raise, when possible, their own seedlings. Create a nursery bed in the garden by running a 40 sand: 40 soil: 20 organic matter mix through a garden sieve. Or recycle polystyrene boxes (making sure they have holes in the bottom) and sand/soil/organic mix.
This is also the month to get serious about crisp, summer lettuce. Easy to grow, but particular in matters of birth and diet, this is the most popular plant of the home gardener. Raise seed in beds or boxes, keeping sheltered and moist. Transplant into a well-drained soil with a healthy proportion (20 per cent) of organic matter dug through. Rake some more into the top layer with a sprinkle of dolomite or lime and all is ready.
For all seedling transplants, watch the weather and most likely, you won’t lose one baby. If the meteorological forces are with you, plant after a late-afternoon shower. And remember, rain or not, late afternoon (unless it’s particularly cold) is best. If there have been a few days of rain, plant when it appears to be abating. Rainwater (in moderate amounts) is the transplants’ friend. And consulting the Moon Planting guide helps, too.
Mulch lettuce with grass clippings or compost and feed with liquid fertiliser every fortnight. Apart from the root and legume varieties, this practice can be applied to most inhabitants of the vegetable garden with good results.
Plantings include: Aubergine (eggplant) *Beans *Beetroot *Capsicum *Carrot *Celery *Chinese cabbage *Choko *Cucumber *Leek *Lettuce *Melon *Okra *Potato *Pumpkin *Radish *Rhubarb crowns *Silverbeet *Spring onion *Squash *Sweet corn *Sweet potato *Tomato *Zucchini
Pop in some passionfruit this month, but beware of their riotous behaviour. Again, use plenty of organic matter, keep up the top dressings, liquid feedings and this wonderful source of vitamin C and fresh daily fruit is yours within 12 months.
Plantings include: Citrus *Nuts *Stone fruit *Vines.
It is said that the sight and smell of fresh flowers will gladden the hardest heart. An extravagant claim, but such is the spirit of Spring. And now is the time to invest energies in a summer spectacular. Unless otherwise specified, choose a warm sunny spot in the garden and plan carefully from the varieties of annuals, biennials and perennials: bedding, border, dwarf, medium and tall plants.
In general, when transplanting seedlings, be conscientious with daily waterings and as with vegetables, pick a late afternoon on a cloudy day.
A featureless corner of the house or garden? Plant now and witness the power of the petunia. These easy-to-grow flowers provide a true celebration of colour. Give them a light soil with plenty of organic matter and a dash of lime. They love sun and once they have flowered, cut them back, give a weak dose of liquid fertiliser and they’ll do it all again.
Plantings include: Alyssum * Snapdragon *Carnation *Chrysanthemum *Dahlia *Gladiolus *Lobelia *Marigold *Mignonette *Nasturtium *Pansy *Petunia *Phlox *Statice * Zinnia.
SHRUBS AND CLIMBERS
Inland and southern gardeners may grow a wider range of roses, but stand back and watch them admire our hibiscus. There are literally hundreds of varieties with single and multiple blooms and a spectrum of colours. The first two weeks in September are ideal for planting out hibiscus.
Sun, shelter and drainage are needed for most trees, shrubs and climbers. If the soil is clay, make life easier for the plant by digging its hole half a metre wider than the root ball. Mix compost and sand with the soil you have removed. Mulch, then water and water some more.
From ‘Gardening on the North Coast and Thereabouts’ by Stephen`` Brouwer.
(Compiled by Lydia Kindred)