What a frosty start to winter! Here’s hoping this means good fruit set for all the cool temperate fruit trees this year.
All sorts of goodies have been turning up around here lately – some seasonal, some surprising – as we swap and share with family and friends. Treats have included quinces, late figs, silk bananas, a few stray passionfruit, astringent persimmons (I’m still waiting weeks later for these to ripen…) and delightfully tender young spinach. The chooks are laying well, so a kind of vego Eggs Benedict has been popular (poached eggs, steamed spinach and blender hollandaise on toast or English muffins). There are a few limes left, and we’re starting to pick mandarins and oranges, while the lemons go all year round.
It’s easy to forget that lettuces and coriander grow so well at this time of year, since we often associate them with summer eating, but throw a few seeds around and you might be surprised at what happens! Self-sown parsley is popping up everywhere between pavers.
The soil has been well watered and is starting to cool down. Here’s a reminder about planting bare-rooted deciduous fruit trees: prepare the hole wider than it is deep, loosen the soil below, and do a drainage test – especially if you’re on clay soil, and even more so if you’re planting trees that are sensitive to wet feet – add gypsum if poor drainage is a problem. Add good compost – but particularly to the backfill soil and around and beyond the drip-line of the tree, where most of the feeder roots will grow.
If you have deciduous trees to be transplanted, use a sharp spade to cut around the rootball, prune the top to keep the tree in balance, and feed with seaweed extract to stimulate new root growth, then transplant it in 6-8 weeks so that it will have its new feeder roots ready to grow in the new position.
Plant locally native trees, shrubs and ground covers, with mulch or weed matting around them, and protect from grazing animals if needed.
Veg to plant this month include artichoke suckers, asparagus crowns, broad beans, carrot seeds, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, celeriac, celery, kale, leeks, lettuce, peas, radish, rocket, silverbeet, spinach, swede, turnip and watercress, seed potatoes, garlic cloves and strawberry runners.
Compost autumn leaves and old mulch, or throw them to the chooks who can pick out the insects and mix their manure into the carbon-rich materials for faster composting.
Many perennial herbs need a good trim back as they have put on strong growth with the combination of warm soil and May rain. A great opportunity to make a batch of tasty stock to freeze for winter soups, to dry herbs for storage, or to share cuttings.
Winter fruit tree pruning is starting – best when your trees are fully dormant and leafless. Winter pruning stimulates strong spring growth, so it’s great for shaping young trees and for renovating old trees. For mature, productive and modest sized home fruit trees though, I prefer summer pruning just after harvest. Either way, aim for the start of a long fine break so that the cuts can dry out well. Home pruning tutorials are available.
NADJA’S GARDEN NEWS
A great pruning morning was held in the sunshine at Brighton Primary School on June 3rd, with a small team sharing pruning knowledge and hands-on skills and getting stuck into the fruit trees in the produce garden. The fresh mandarins were delicious too!
Organic Corner Store market – our last market date before we take a July break… details below.