Warm, sunny weather through April has promoted strong growth for autumn and winter crops. The only downside has been the continued lack of significant rain. I can’t remember ever having to water my vegetable garden in April as much as I have this year. The rewards are plentiful though and I am currently harvesting broccoli, spring onions, carrots, kohl rabi, silver beet, perpetual spinach, baby leeks, beetroot and snow peas along with still producing capsicums, zucchini, butternuts and a good selection of herbs.
SEEDS TO SOW
If conditions are still reasonably mild the first week of May we can try a late sowing of carrots, peas and snow peas direct into the garden. Covering carrot seed with a light dressing of seed-raising potting mix instead of topsoil will aid germination. With protection from the elements, onions, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, silver beet, spring onion, perpetual spinach and lettuce can also be sown in pots and punnets for later transplanting. Broad beans are cool weather vegetables and the seed can be sown direct into the garden now to provide a useful fresh crop in Spring and early Summer. Be prepared for the fact that broad beans grow tall and will require support.
The world is divided into those who love broad beans and those who loathe them. If the only broad beans you have ever tasted were leather jackets swimming in a sea of tasteless white sauce why would you like them? In fact, fresh, tender broad beans provide a gourmet delight that is rarely available in supermarkets. Grow your own and pick ‘em young. Delicious!
VEGETABLES TO PLANT
Seedlings of broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, beetroot, silver beet, lettuce can still be planted in sunny, sheltered spots. May, June and July are the best months for planting garlic and shallots. Both take six to seven months to mature so it’s a good idea to enrich the soil with plenty of compost and a general fertiliser prior to planting. Individual garlic cloves are planted just below the surface, pointy end upwards, approximately 10cm apart with 15cm to 30cm between rows. Shallots are spaced 10cm apart with 20cm between rows with the base of the bulbs pressed firmly into the soil but leaving the top half exposed.
Bare-rooted strawberry plants are usually available at the end of the month or early June so now’s the time to prepare the area by incorporating compost and fertiliser. Create raised beds if the drainage is poor and perhaps cover the area with weed mat to suppress weeds, conserve summer moisture and to keep the fruit clean. Where space is limited, strawberries can be grown in patio pots, large hanging baskets, troughs or herb planters filled 50/50 with good quality compost and potting mix.
Contributed by Chris Green, SuperGrans WBOP Volunteer
Want to know more?
SuperGrans WBOP will be launching a Life Skills Mentoring Programme in Level 2 and will be welcoming applications from 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.
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