Happy start to Spring! The last few days have offered some really warm sunshine to bring the bees to the blossoms and to accelerate growth. This winter was warmer than average, and although it started out unseasonably dry, we’ve now just about caught up on our quota of winter rainfall. Here at home, the tanks are full, the garden beds have had a good soaking and everything with roots already established is starting to get a wriggle on. It’s a different story for new plantings though – with the soil still cold, it will be a while yet until summer vegetables are ready to go in.
As spring growth gets going, plants need to take up more nutrients. If you’ve been adding compost and manure over winter this process will already be well underway, but hungry feeders such as citrus and passionfruit still need fertiliser including trace elements, and this is best delivered when we have some good rainfall to water it in.
Many citrus trees around Adelaide have been affected by sooty mould during late winter. This is usually caused by sap-sucking insects such as scale that attach themselves to the stems of new growth.
The sticky ‘honeydew’ that they exude is collected by ants (which ‘farm’ the scale insects for this purpose) but enough is left on the leaves and sometimes on the fruit for black sooty mould to grow on it. The current rain may wash a lot of this off, but if it still presents a problem there are several ways to deal with it. Ensure the tree is well fed to maximise its resistance to insects; use a sticky band of vaseline or similar around the trunk to deter the ants; and if it’s still a problem, spray the tree with home-made organic white oil.
Rampant growth on thistles and stray grass is providing bucketloads of green chook feed, resulting in deep golden yolks and (oops!) the occasional golden sponge cake.
My tasks for this time of year in the garden:
- Propagating veg seedlings ready to plant out over the next couple of months (scroll down for list)
- Protecting the leafy greens – keeping caterpillars off the brassicas and birds and cats out of the veg beds (I’m using a maze of string between lots of sticks for this)
- Trimming and training new growth on evergreens & vines – e.g. directing the strawberry guava growth up through its tomato cage; pruning citrus and passionfruit
- Weeding – and feeding to the chooks
- Feeding citrus & passionfruit with pelletised fertiliser, and new seedlings with liquid fertiliser
- Getting ready to reinstate irrigation and mulch as spring warms up
- Keeping potted plants moist and sheltered from strong winds as they await planting out when the soil warms (make sure young trees haven’t outgrown their pots – they risk becoming rootbound and/or top-heavy and vulnerable to blowing over
- Dodging the spraydrift as suburban gardeners and council contractors get trigger-happy with their chemicals in response to spring’s lush burst of life.
Vegetables and herbs to sow now (in seedling punnets in a warm place, unless marked with (D) for direct seeding in the garden): basil, climbing beans (D), beetroot, cabbage, capsicum, celery, celeriac, chilli, chives, chervil, coriander (D), dill, eggplant, endive, fennel, spring onions, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, mint (cuttings), mizuna, mustard, pak choi, parsley, parsnip, peas, potatoes (whole or cut seed potatoes), radiccio, radish, rocket, silverbeet, swede, tomato, turnip, zucchini.
Happy Father’s Day to the gardening dads and grandpas, the dads who support the gardening mums and kids, and the beleaguered dads who just want five minutes to themselves to enjoy their gardens in peace.
See you at…
- Organic Corner Store market Thursday 7th and 21st Sept
- Adelaide Royal Show – Permaculture SA stand in the Farm Expo (Foodland Pavilion) Friday morning 8th Sept – grid ref. C9 on the show map.
- Tonsley Pod for Introduction to Permaculture Thursday 14th Sept
- Strathalbyn for Introduction to Permaculture Tues 31st Oct (follow Facebook page for updates)
- Your home garden! Ph. 0410 636 857 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for a consultation booking or design quote.