Alan G says: Alan has been working the vegetable garden plots in this village for 20 years. He has real experience with our soil and microclimate. Alan suggests using Yates garden guide, which classes this part of Victoria as ‘cold’. He says this is a very reliable guide for our garden. This guide is displayed in the middle hot house. Here are his suggestions for April and May. SOIL PREPARATION IS REALLY IMPORTANT NOW Dig to a spade depth and turn over your patch. Add compost and manure. Water in and leave for a few days. SUITABLE PLANTS SPRING ONIONS. April is the last month to plant Spring Onions. ONIONS: Plant April, May and June SHALLOTS (bulbs): Plant April, May SPINACH and SILVERBEET: Plant April, May BROAD BEANS: Plant April, May. Last plantings to July, August. LETTUCE: Plant all year round
We are coming into April and a move towards cooler conditions, colder nights with clear skies, variable day temperatures according to the direction of the wind. So we are well into our strategies for keeping the crops coming through winter. What do we expect to be harvesting between now and October? I have come up with a list of things that will do well here through that period and some that may struggle. I like to go with the things that do well so here are some of them.
Carrots: You have a about two weeks for planting carrot seed and some planted now should be cropping until October. After germination. Thse should be thinned to about 50mm apart. parsnips and turnips are also plantable now but not after mid April. I do not recommend buying punnets of seedlings of these root-crops because in order to get a nice straight long root, the seedling must have a good taproot ; in the punnet the roots are twisted or broken. If you don’t like carrots with two or three stubby roots, grow them in a part of the plot that has not had much compost added recently.
Brassicas: Great time for planting most of these. cabbages, cauliflowers, kales an all be planted as seedlings now to be cropping (June) July to September. Brussel sprouts can follow in a couple of weeks. If planted too early they can get too tall and be blown over in high winds. Broccoli is especially good as there are varieties suitable for growing through most of the year. Try Green Dragon.
Peas & beans: First sowings of broad beans this month. They will crop in early October so that are in the ground for 6 months which is a long time. Early plantings can get tall and be liable to wind damage. I prefer to plant Coles Dwarf in June or July to harvest in Oct/Nov. Its a bit early to put peas in because they can struggle in winter but you can give them a try.
Herbs: Lots of these can be given a ‘short back and sides’ taking out the leggy, woody stuff and encouraging fresh new growth to last you into winter. basil and coriander may be exceptions – just continual tip-pruning to keep them bushy and fresh for as long as possible. When cooler weather sets in they will suffer. The bushy Greek basil will thrive into the cooler months.
My sweet potato seem to be doing so well it is delaying my preparation for change of crops. It is spreading over the whole bed and I have to leave it until the leaves die down.
Potatoes: Time to lift the spuds now if the tops have died down. Needs to be done before the tubers start to re-sprout. Keep some small ones and green ones for next season’s seed and be prepared to discard any that have shoots that reach the surface because they will be “glassy” in the middles and not cook evenly. Main planting season will be later.
Capsicum, sweet corn, tomatoes, zucchini & squash: Keep these going as long as you can with a dose of fish emulsion with a little potash added, but generally when they start to decline and especially if they have powdery mildew or spider mite, direct them to the compost bin! Pumpkins are the exception and they can stay on the vine as long as it is green. The way to tell if a pumpkin is ripe to pick, press a fingernail into the skin; if it shows a mark, it can stay; if it shows no mark, it is ready to go.