March Garden Guide – and accidental community newsletter

THE START OF AUTUMN – OR MORE SUMMER?

The weather outlook for the next three months suggests that conditions in Adelaide and much of SA are likely to be drier and warmer than average for this time of year as the La Nina system gradually breaks down during autumn. For our gardens, the main question is whether this means it’s worth continuing to grow summer vegetables or to switch to typical autumn vegetables around this time.

Some factors to consider in deciding this are available time, water and sunshine. By time I mean both how long the plants take to deliver a yield, and how much time you have available to invest in getting them started. If you’re continuing with summer veg like beans, or just filling a few gaps before you make over a whole bed ready for winter, it’s worth going for the quick returns like bush beans (rather than climbing beans which take longer to fruit), lettuces and radishes. Meanwhile established capsicums, chillies, eggplants and tomatoes may be still producing heavily and worth keeping in the ground as long as production and ripening continues. Some additional compost, liquid fertiliser and mulch may be in order to keep them happy. Keeping on keeping on also makes sense if you’re relying on rainwater and the tank is nearly empty, as these plants should now have their roots down deep and be drinking more efficiently than new seedlings.

But if you have time available, and enough water, but your vegetable garden is soon facing a loss of sunshine hours as the days shorten and the sun’s winter path takes it behind trees, buildings or hills, you might want to consider getting some of your autumn-winter crops in really soon to take advantage of the rapid growth they can gain while daylight and warmth still permit. In this case, it may be worth reconditioning the beds by digging in compost, blood and bone, manure, or planting a quick-growing green manure crop to dig in very soon. Then your brassicas, silverbeet, garlic, etc. can start to make substantial headway before they spend weeks in shadow or get hit by frost.

My plan is to get sowing seeds of some of these babies below into punnets (except where indicated), to be transplanted out into the garden beds some time in the next 8 weeks, depending when we get those beds ready…

Bush beans, beetroot, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflowers, celery, chives, coriander, dill, endive, fennel, garlic (sow cloves direct in garden), kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, mizuna, mustard, pak choi, parsnip, peas, radiccio, radish, rocket, silverbeet, spinach, spring onions, swede, tatsoi and turnips.

There’s still a bit of time for deciduous trees to put on a little post-pruning regrowth, and it looks like we have some good opportunities for pruning weather ahead – dry days without excessive heat. And they’ll appreciate some extra water, compost and manure to build up their reserves. In fact the whole garden would just love a real soaking – even the succulents around here are looking a bit sad, like the little showers last week didn’t make a dent in the dryness.

COMMUNITY NEWS there is so much going on that relates to gardening and sustainable living that just off the top of my head I have more items to share here than in the garden guide! I can’t keep up listing them at this rate, so please follow my facebook page if you can, as that’s where I share such things as soon as I find out about them.

Permaculture SA‘s quarterly gathering is coming up at the Botanic Gardens in Womad week – here’s the details.

Brighton Community Garden is a local SW Adelaide group that is preparing a proposal for a beautiful site within a council park, and I’m enjoying working on a concept design ready for neighbourhood consultation. Interested? Connect with the group here. More excitingly green news from local councils soon, I hope!

A new monthly produce swap group has sprung up at Seacliff – event details here.

Grow Free, the fabulous food- and plant-sharing initiative started in SA, has now expanded interstate and looks about to take off overseas. There are now so many Grow Free carts in SA that new local facebook pages have been started for members to update one another on what’s happening with carts in each area. See TEDx video here and local group links here.

David Holmgren’s (permaculture co-originator) new book ‘RetroSuburbia‘ is out now – has had its Melbourne launch, and will have its Adelaide launch at the Joinery in April when David is in SA for the Food Forest’s next Permaculture Design Certificate course. It is a huge, high quality, condensed handbook for living more sustainably and connectedly (if that’s not a word, it should be) in the suburbs. I’m taking a short professional development break next week to immerse myself in its contents and to start pondering how I can incorporate its inspiration into my design offerings at both the household and community levels. The book is filtering its way into SA libraries as I type – place a hold to get your hands on it. RetroSuburbia also has a website with many case studies and resources for ready reference, and a ‘RetroSuburbia Community‘ facebook page to join in and share the goodness. See you there 🙂

Podcast heaven – David Holmgren, Costa Georgiadis, Nick Ritar (Milkwood), Michael Ableman (Sole Food Street Farms) and more in conversation on ‘Transforming Suburbia‘. Listen while you water the veggies. ABC Listen app is magic for accessing this and lots more. While we’re on ABC, have you noticed that Gardening Australia now has hour-long TV episodes on Friday nights? Happy hour at home 🙂 Invite the neighbours.

The aforementioned Michael Ableman was the catalyst for a recent Urban Agriculture forum at the Joinery (Adelaide Sustainability Centre), bringing together local case studies and triggering lots of cross-pollination between those of us engaged in foodifying across fences. Learn more about his ventures and others that engage food growing to bridge the monetary and non-monetary economies, at the Joinery’s upcoming film night – A New Economy – which includes shared dinner.

Organic Corner Store market – I’ll say it again, it’s a MARKET, not a shop – is on every Thursday from 9am – 1pm at Glenelg North Community Centre, with indoor and outdoor stalls, lawn, seating, playground, superb coffee, locally sourced scrumptious organic and affordable lunches, a produce co-op full of certified organic fruit and veg at substantial savings off retail price, and a variety of stalls operated by home-based micro businesses like mine. Mum and I are there with seeds, plants, a garden design portfolio and pet portrait portfolio on the first and third Thurs of each month. Currently featuring our first stock of LoveThatSeed locally grown seeds, and prices for all seeds have been reduced! To pre-order plants please contact Sally at sally.osterstock@gmail.com. If you’d like to have your own stall at the market, contact Aasha at info@organiccornerstore.com.au.

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