August ended with a beautiful spring-like day, let’s hope that September gives us many more just the same. Vegetable plants that were struggling to grow a month ago are now racing ahead as the days get longer and soil temperatures rise significantly. Now is the time to prepare for next month when we can safely start to plant many of our favourite summer plants directly into the garden.
SEEDS TO SOW
Into pots, punnets and trays under cover in a glasshouse, sun porch or sunny window-sill sow:
Tomatoes, capsicum, chillies, zucchini, cucumber, dwarf beans, butternut squash, basil, plus towards the end of the month, egg plant, melons and sweet corn. A trigger spray bottle is a good way to keep them watered without splashing and washing out the seeds.
Carrots, peas, radishes, beetroot, onions and parsnips can be sown directly into the garden. Covering seeds with a layer of seed-raising potting mix helps to prevent a hard crust that can hinder germination. I still prefer to sow cabbage, broccoli, perpetual spinach, cauliflower, and lettuce in pots to provide strong seedlings for planting later.
I planted my first early potatoes in July and they are already 20cm high and have received their first ‘earthing-up’. This involves drawing soil up and around the plants until only the top of the foliage is showing. This provides protection from the weather and insect pests as well as preventing ‘greening’ of any exposed tubers. The same principal applies to potatoes in containers, just top up the growing mix as the plants grow. Time to plant a few more!
VEGETABLES TO PLANT
Garden centres will soon be full of tender vegetable plants and it can be a huge temptation to buy up large and plant your summer garden in early September. Unless you have very warm, sheltered garden, a glasshouse, tunnel house or some other kind of protection it really pays to wait until October before planting. Even if early plantings survive they are usually overtaken by crops that are planted into more favourable conditions.
Winter standbys such as cabbage, beetroot, broccoli, cauliflower, perpetual spinach, lettuce, spring onions, snow peas and silver beet can still be planted but be prepared to provide white butterfly protection as your cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower mature in a couple of months time.
It’s probably still a little too early for basil but everyday varieties such as parsley, thyme, rosemary, sage, chives and coriander will grow away quickly if planted this month.
Contributed by Chris Green, SuperGrans WBOP Volunteer
Want to know more?
SuperGrans WBOP have launched a Life Skills Mentoring Programme for individuals and families wanting to learn how to start or improve a vegetable garden. You'll be matched with a "gardening buddy" who will support and guide you as you learn to grow your own food.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for an application form or download a form from here.