Hi Spring! 👋
This month is an exciting one because we can start off more of our spring and summer seedlings ready for the future warmer weather.
However, it's important not to get too ahead of things in regards to summer seeds, and remember that the soil outside is much too cold for any heat lovers to thrive, so any summer seeds you start off in trays need to be kept inside until later on in the season.
Frosts are still very common at this time of year too which will ruin sensitive seedlings in a flash.
Now is a good time to really ensure your soil is in top-notch condition. Layer it with organic materials so your garden is ready for when it is planting time.
It's also a perfect time to sow some spring seeds, both in trays and in the garden. I sow all my root crops direct but I like to start brassicas and most leafy greens in trays first and plant them out when they're a little bigger.
Sow direct from seed this month: Beetroot, radishes, coriander, carrots, spring onions, peas, broad beans, turnips
Sow in trays: brassicas, lettuces, Asian greens, spinach, onions, silverbeet, spring onions, tomatoes, chilies, peppers, eggplants,
Plant from seedlings this month: broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, cabbage, potatoes, silverbeet, spinach, kohl rabi, kale
Prepare your soil
Winter is tough on the old soil, so add in lost nutrients by piling on more organic matter and mulch. This can be compost, aged manure, shredded dried leaves, chopped seaweed and chopped up spent plants.
Adding on a layer of mulch will help keep those nutrients in your soil. As spring warms into summer, it will help conserve water.
Spring Clean around the garden
Take this time to do some weeding and feed it to your compost. As the soft spring soil should make it a bit easier to pull them out.
If your compost isn't a hot compost, invasive weeds might grow back if put in there. Fix that problem by making a weedy tea with them instead. Chuck them in a bucket, fill with water and let them steep for a couple of weeks, stirring it every so often with a stick.
Then, you'll have a lovely liquid fertiliser to use on your spring plants, or more organic matter to add to add to your soil.
Quick Sow Spring Seeds
September/October can be a little bit of a lull period in the garden, food-wise. There's not an awful lot to harvest from winter as you'll be emptying your garden beds for summer crops.
I like to use this time to direct sow quick growers like radishes, baby turnips, and beetroot (where I use the leaves in salads as I wait for the actual root to grow).
Some of these can be harvested in as little as 30 days so you can at least have something fresh to harvest while you wait.
Start off Kūmara
If you're keen on homegrown kūmara, you can grow your own slips.
Kūmara need warmth to sprout. You can simply place a kūmara in a glass of water on a sunny windowsill where it will grow shoots.
Alternatively, place kūmara in a tray of damp soil or river sand. Cover it to keep it damp and keep it warm.
Once the shoots have grown long roots, they can be gently eased off the main kumara and planted in the garden when the soil is at least 18 °C and all chance of frost has passed.
Feed existing plants
You can feed your rhubarb now as that will be kicking into action. Apply some compost and well-rotted manure around the crown of the plant (but not touching it) to feed it and retain moisture.
Strawberries and all other berries can be fed now too in preparation for a summer full of berries. Aged, well-rotted manure is such a helpful friend in the garden to do this job. Then mulch them well.
Check the soil around your deciduous trees and see if it needs attention. They’ll appreciate a layer of compost added around their base.
Let your plants bloom
Some of your winter crops may be flowering now. If you want to give the bees a treat then let them flower away.
Some plants like parsley or coriander are excellent self-seeders so you can just the let the plant do its thing and new plants will pop up next season.
We need to do all we can to attract bees and other pollinators to the garden.
Plant potatoes now so you have fresh spuds for Christmas! Generally, you can harvest potatoes after they have flowered and died back but not all potatoes flower before harvest so this is not a sure-fire method. Keep dates of when you planted your potatoes and what variety and then go from there.
Keep there greens protected with frost cloth until the chance of frost has passed.
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