It’s official… if you were listening to Jon Lamb on ABC 891 talkback gardening this morning, you would have heard Darren Ray from the weather bureau confirming listeners’ recent observations that spring seems to be coming early. Sure enough, average daytime and night-time temperatures over the past few months have been significantly higher than average, and what’s more, both high rainfall and higher than average temperatures are expected to continue over the next few months. This suggests that we could have a very productive spring for vegetables, although we will need to beware of fungal diseases… so ensure plants have good air circulation by not planting vulnerable species too densely, and use anti-fungal products wisely and early.
The key message for this weekend is to start planning and preparing the soil for your spring planting, especially adding organic matter where you plan to grow tomatoes this spring and summer, and it’s not too early to start off your vegetable seeds indoors. Tomato seeds can start to go into seed raising trays or punnets this month if you have a sunny windowsill space, and can be planted out into the garden at 6-8 weeks old. We are probably past the danger of hard frosts already, although we may have some cold snaps, and the tomatoes will make better progress in the warm indoor conditions until September.
Do make sure that you plant tomatoes in a different location from where you grew them last year, and where you haven’t grown other solanum crops (potatoes, capsicum, chili, eggplant) in the last couple of years, to avoid a build-up of pests and diseases that will attack these plants. You could put in a fast-growing green manure crop such as broad beans or oats, then slash these and dig them into the soil before they set seed, prior to planting tomatoes in your chosen area.
Stay tuned for new stocks of Greenpatch Organic Seeds for your spring planting… this week I have:
- Capsicum (red, purple and golden)
- Pumpkin (golden nugget, Jap and Queensland blue)
- Eggplant (black beauty and long purple)
- Squash (early white bush)
- Tomato (San Mazano Lapadina, Grosse Lisse, Oxheart, Red cherry cocktail and Black Russian, Rouge de Marmande, Yellow cocktail, Tigerella)
- Melons – rockmelon, honeydew and champagne watermelon
…plus plenty of winter veg seeds still available, salad pots ready for picking, and more spring seeds coming soon! Catch me at the Organic Corner Store on Thursday or give me a call for a home visit in the Marion/Holdfast area.