Warm up to Spring
Preparation and planting
It’s time to think about what to plant for Spring – throw on a hat, pull on some gloves and join us in the garden while we plan for the new season! Together we can prepare our veggie gardens for strong, healthy, abundant plants over the warmer months.
First, the soil – clear the patch of any rotting fruits, plants and weeds and test the soil pH level (see our article ‘Are you aware of your soil health and its pH level?’). If your soil is acidic, add lime, and if it’s more alkaline, a good dose of well-decomposed animal manure or neutral compost, or elemental sulfur will help bring it down to neutral. Test your compost before you use it and fix it in the same way if necessary (if you’re buying compost the pH level should be on the label). After that you can top up your garden liberally with it. Don’t bother digging anything in as your soil is an ecosystem all of its own, and any digging you do in it will disturb the delicate balance of the system.
Cut back any green manure you planted last season and leave it to rot down into the soil. This will help mulch the soil, but this is also a good time to add mulch too, in order to keep your soil moist and make a perfect environment for beneficial insects. If you’re buying it, lucerne or pea straw are best for organic gardens.
A general garden clean-up is good at this time, and also repair any structures that hold climbers such as cucumbers, tomatoes, snow peas and beans.
While our gardens have a couple of weeks’ rest we can finally decide what to plant! Our decisions about what to plant in spring will depend on which climate zone we live in Australia. For example, if you’re in an arid area, you can plant heat-loving veggies throughout spring and early summer, like capsicum, chilli, zucchini, corn, eggplant, cucumber, tomatoes, melons, basil and beans. Make sure you harvest most things before January and February, though, before the real heat steps up.
If your garden is in a tropical and sub-tropical area, all the veggies that the arid areas can take are suitable (except for maybe zucchini, as it doesn’t like a wet tropical climate), plus Asian greens and chokos.
Gardeners in temperate areas are the lucky ones of the Australian spring/summer. You can plant virtually any heat-loving vegetable, as well as some of the cool-loving ones like broccoli, parsnip, kohlrabi, silverbeet and cabbage.
For any Australian garden, however, keeping the water up on your garden is imperative over spring and summer, especially over dry periods. For a watering option most friendly to the environment, install a water tank that catches rain from the roof of your house and connect it to a drip-feed irrigation system among your veggies. Always water early morning or evening to avoid the water evaporating before it hits the roots of your plants.
The warmth of spring and summer will bring you a bounty of fruits and veggies – as long as you have prepared your soil and keep the water up to it, the sun and the plants will do the rest. Soon you will be revelling in the taste and texture of sweet, juicy, fresh, home-grown produce! You just can’t get any better than that!