GARDENING: April the best time for green thumbs
This week is part of the best gardening time of the year.
How is your garden looking at the moment?
We have had great seasonal weather, with regular rain and hot humid weather during march.
Providing the foundation for one of the best gardening weeks we have experienced in over a decade.
This week each year usually provides most gardeners with the green light to start the preparation for the spring displays and/or garden competitions.
However, this year we will just start with helping the garden recover from the ravages of December, January and February.
So, over the next few weekends will be the time to get into the garden!
The preparation of garden beds for vegetables is now recommended.
When starting a veggie patch the way you prepare the soil you have will help.
The inclusion of organic matter in your vegetable garden soil will help retain soil moisture, allowing water to penetrate and the roots to go deep into the soil.
In clay soil, the clay often packs down which then prevents moisture from penetrating deeply into the soil profile.
The addition of organic matter will physically separates the clay particles.
Even Autumn gives the veggie gardener so many vegetable varieties to grow: Beans, Beetroot, Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Capsicum, Carrots, Celery, Cress, Cucumber, Leek, Lettuce, Marrow, Mustard, Potatoes, Radish, Silverbeet, Tomato and zucchini can all go in now.
The best lettuce to grow at the moment is the loose-leaf types as the hearting varieties will grow when the weather starts to cool.
For me every veggie patch should have some leguminous plants like peas and beans for a number of reasons.
First, these types of veggies are a magnet for many insects.
I always plant more beans then I need so I can sacrifice the rest to the chewing insects.
Secondly legumes can have an important role to the whole veggie patch as they have tiny root nodules filled with bacteria known as Rhizobium.
Rhizobiums are able take nitrogen from the air and convert it to an organic form that benefits both the plant and the garden soil.
Rhizobium does require a soil with a pH close to or just over 6.5 and with an adequate supply of the nutrients, phosphorus and even some molybdenum.
Simply raising the pH level will have the effect of releasing sufficient molybdenum that is already present in the soil of veggie patch.
An application of Dolomite at the rate of 200 grams per square metre four to six weeks before planting will achieve this result. I would apply some Dynamic Lifter with a little amount of sulfate of potash as well at the time of planting.
One important hint when growing beans and peas: do not use companion plantings of garlic and onions nearby - they are not good neighbours.
My favourite vegetables are broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower; these veggies are known as Brassicas and can also be grown from now on.
If you are growing Brassicas for the first time I would treat the soil of the veggie patch with some dolomite four to six weeks before planting.
I have had the best results with using Blood and Bone with a little dash sulfate of potash when planting.
Brassicas seem to be best planted from seedling punnets rather than seeding directly into the veggie patch.
One other little hint is that Brassicas will not grow well near tomatoes.
Another important hint when planting seedling from punnets is to drench with Fish Emulsion immediately after being planted out. This will help the seedlings recover from the shock of transplanting.
Plant now for winter food and colour
Vegetables – Beans, Beetroot, Broccoli, Cabbage, Capsicum, Cauliflower, Carrots, Celery, Leek, Lettuce, Melons, Pumpkin, Radish, Silverbeet, Tomato & Zucchini
Flowers – Alyssum, Ageratum, Candytuft, Cineraria, Clarkia, Cornflower, Delphinium, Dianthus, Godetia, Gypsophila, Larkspur, Lobelia, Lupin, Nemesia, Nasturtium, Pansy, Petunia, Phlox, Poppy, Primula, Statice, Stock, Sweet Pea, Verbena & Viola