Already the days are lengthening and through August we will begin to think that spring has sprung but we’ll be mistaken. Unless you have a glasshouse or tunnel house it pays to be patient for at least the next six weeks or so before planting out any tender, heat-loving summer vegetables.
SEEDS TO SOW
Continue sowing onions, lettuce, silver beet, beetroot, perpetual spinach and spring onions. I usually make this my last sowing of cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli because later sow crops will need to be protected from Cabbage White butterflies. Peas, broad beans and snow peas can be sown in pots or straight into the garden. Florence, or Globe fennel prefers cooler temperatures so there is still time to raise some seedlings. Carrots and parsnip are best sown direct into the garden late in the month when soil temperatures start to rise. Always use fresh parsnip seed for best results. Mid-August is the time to start sowing early zucchini, tomato, capsicum, chilli, egg plant, dwarf bean and cucumber in trays and pots but only in a warm, sunny spot under cover.
Early potatoes can be planted now. The seed potatoes you purchase may have already formed shoots and mini root systems and can be planted straight from the bag. Otherwise, prepare seed potatoes before planting by chitting. Chitting involves pre-sprouting the tubers by putting them in trays (I use egg cartons) and placing them in a warm, light, dry spot to allow the young shoots to develop. Good early varieties include Cliffs Kidney, Jersey Bennes, Illam Hardy and Arran Banner.
VEGETABLES TO PLANT
Unless you have a glasshouse, August really is the month to exercise patience. Winter standbys such as cabbage, beetroot, broccoli, cauliflower, perpetual spinach, lettuce, spring onions and silver beet can still be planted. Asparagus ‘crowns’ are usually available from garden shops for planting in July/August. Planting an asparagus bed is a long term project as it takes several years to produce significant crops but it can then go on cropping for twenty years or more.
Herbs are generally easy to grow and most can be planted this month. Thyme, parsley, coriander, sage, rosemary, lemon grass, chives and dill can be grown in pots or can be planted directly into the garden. Mint is best grown in a pot as it can easily take over a garden bed with its underground runners.