Spring into the garden

weeping cherry blossom

The weeping cherry blossoms are abuzz with bees

It’s the fourth week of Spring and it’s finally safe to say that winter is now behind us. The bee hive is buzzing, there are flower buds opening everywhere around the garden and the goats are shedding their winter coats.

september- back vegetable garden

The back vegetable garden late September

Even though we’ve had plenty of rain in the last month, the increased temperatures heading into summer will mean the ground can quickly dry out. Now is the time to get your vegetable beds mulched using pea straw, straw, sugarcane mulch or if you can afford it, lucerne hay, which will also feed your vegetables as it breaks down.

september- potatoes

The potatoes which were planted mid August are growing strongly and have been hilled up with soil and then mulched with pea straw.

september- garlic

I don’t usually mulch the garlic, but the soil in this bed dries out quickly (thanks to our gum trees) so I’ve given them a light cover with pea straw.

september- brassicas

The brassica bed with Tuscan kale, Red Russian kale, broccoli and cauliflowers will hopefully mature before the Cabbage White butterflies emerge and lay their eggs on the leaves, so won’t need netting. 

I love the start of Spring when vegetables nursed through the Winter start to mature. We’ve been feasting on asparagus the last few weeks, both green and purple. If you haven’t grown asparagus before, have a go, the two year wait before harvesting is worth the many productive years that follow of the best tasting, freshest asparagus you’ll ever eat.

September- broadbeans

The broad beans are worth growing just for their flowers delightful scent and the leafy tips of the plants make a wonderful addition to a spring salad.

Broad beans and snow peas are starting to pod too and we’ve eaten the broccoli and cauliflowers with a succession planting maturing soon. There’s plenty of kale, silverbeet, spinach and red chard and the endive is ready to be lightly steamed and mashed with potatoes (it’s a Dutch thing-don’t knock it until you try it!)

oranges

Planted at the top of the driveway in a our best sunny spot, the oranges and grapefruit are thriving and we are juicing and eating citrus galore. Our citrus trees love the spent straw from the goats pen as a mulch.

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What to grow in July (Cool-Temperate climate)

winter morning

The vegetable garden where I work at the Gawler Cancer Foundation.

The mornings here in the valley hover only just above freezing, but there are still the occasional days that the sun makes an appearance and being outdoors is a joy.

July is onion seedling planting time here in cool/temperate Australia. Onion seedlings can be planted as individuals or in little groups of three or four, if you prepare your soil well the developing onions will still get to full size and you’ll fit many more onions in a small space. It’s also time to plant spring onion seedlings and shallots now.

onions

If you have an established rhubarb patch that’s getting a bit crowded, you can dig up your rhubarb plants and divide them, planting divisions at least 50cm apart. Leftover divisions make great presents for friends or neighbours. If you’re not already growing rhubarb, July is a good time to buy some crowns and plant them out in your garden.

rhubarb

Who doesn’t love freshly harvested asparagus? If you’ve never munched on an asparagus harvested straight from the garden, do yourself a favour and buy some asparagus crowns to plant now. Asparagus crowns are a small investment that, when looked after well, will give you fresh asparagus for the next 20 years!

asparagus.jpg

Lastly, if you still have some space in the garden for more vegetables you can plant out seedlings of Globe artichokes or tubers of Jerusalem artichokes.