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 March.
The Autumn and Winter crops that you can start planting in March are going to be in the ground for several months; because of the cooler temperatures, they will grow slower and take longer to reach maturity than the summer crops. This means that they should be put into soil that has been well prepared and fertilized. So clear as much space as possible, remove all the spent crops and any weeds from your plot, add plenty of organic fertilizer like processed sheep, cow or poultry manure or mushroom compost and turn them in. A sprinkle of lime or dolomite is also beneficial to maintain soil pH and condition too.
Then you can plan your autumn plantings. Try to arrange them so that the tallest plants are furthest south and do not shade smaller crops.
Autumn and winter crops are most often those eaten cooked and are most often leaf-crops or root- crops.
In the cabbage family there are many to choose from so in your plant supplier, consider the colour, shape, texture and growth habit of your crops and remember how many meals you will get from each plant so as not to plant too many of any single sort. And note the spacing. VERY IMPORTANT to give each plant room to grow to maturity – as described on the label.
Cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale and brussel sprouts can all be planted from March onwards. Remember, sprouts will grow tall – possibly over one metre. broccoli and broccolini are smaller growing, can be planted closer and they get harvested sooner. There are small varieties of all of these crops notably cabbage and cauliflower. Kohl rabi and turnips are also of the cabbage family so the leaves of both are edible. With Kohl rabi you eat the swollen stem and the turnip you eat the root.
It is generally best to grow your root crops from seed rather than from punnet seedlings because by growing in the punnet and transplanting to the ground damages and twists the main tap root and this should be kept long straight and not damaged. Carrot, parsnip, beetroot and turnip can be planted now. For big fat healthy root crops give them a fertilizer high in phosphate like processed chook poo. (Except for carrots who like to be treated mean!)
Other things that like the cooler autumn weather include spinach, lettuce, silver beet and rainbow chards and celery. You might even get a crop of peas before winter if planted now.
Best not to plant garlic and broad beans just yet. Wait until April or May for those.
Gardenate is an excellent website that gives a lot of information. Click on a vegetable and there is more information plus Q&A on that vegetable. Click her for what to plant in March.
Yates Yates is also an excellent guide for Australian Gardeners and a favourite of our own Alan G. See guides in our sheds.