April In The Vegie Patch

bee on verbena bonaresisWhen to Call it Quits

Winter draws ever closer, and tough choices need to be made. Do you have enough room for all your winter crops or does something have to give. Is it time for summer crops to go? And time is of the essence people, anytime soon the weather will turn and the nights will cool. Those cool nights set the stage and everything slows down.

(Man doesn’t that sound good – everything slows down…)

So if you need the space for winter crops rouse your tough loving self and whip out the old (hurrah compost!) and get planting the new – now! today! or you’ll run out of grow time.

I am giving up on what was never great in the first place, and pulling the outside tomatoes.

Tomatoes perform a handy trick – continuing to ripen even when pulled out. Either pick fruits individually and line up on the window sill, or pull the whole plant and hang it under cover. The fruits loose something in the translation – neither as fresh nor plump, but are perfect for sauces and preserves.

As are green tomatoes – green tomato relish and sauce are truly delicious. Try our Fried Green Tomatoes!

Growing Fabulous Brassica

Broccoli - romanesco

The trick to good heads is:

  • Fertile soils
  • Giving each plant due space so they aren’t competing for nutrients ( 30 – 45cm depending on variety)
  • Open soils. Go over the bed beforehand with the broadfork so their roots can speed down straight and deep. Thus avoiding competition with their neighbours, establishing rock solid stability and resourcing a wider range of help and goodness.

Keep your broccoli, cauliflower and cabbages growing fast with:

  • weekly liquid feeding
  • cabbage white control – either flick off the eggs beneath the leaves and squash the caterpillars or spray with Dipel. (it’s not for much longer – hurrah!, they’ll be disappearing soon)
  • a deep water once a week if its not raining regularly at your place
  • mulching up around the stalks as they grow. They’ll peg new roots down in this mulch giving them extra resilience.
  • A side dressings of rotten manure when the plants are at 30cm – a gob beneath the mulch, beside each plant will do it.

Brassica’s love rotten manure. Incorporate some into your initial bed preparation and side dress a few times through the growing season. If no rotten manure is to hand then liquid feed weekly with your magic pooh brew.

In the next two weeks

chard

  • Plant out lots of salad greens and loads of leafy greens – parsley, kale, silverbeet, perpetual beet or rainbow chard to ensure plenty of fresh greens through the winter.
  • Plant another mixed lot of brassicas for late winter eating.
  • Plant celery into a lovely pile of muck. Avoid leaf spot and rust by growing in the greenhouse or under cover.
  • Plant companion flowers like calendula, stock, larkspur, cornflower, primula, poppy to keep your spirits up and your beneficial insects fed.
  • Direct sow peas, snowpeas, sweetpeas, broadbeans, corn salad, miners lettuce, spinach, coriander, radish and rocket. Avoid chocolate spot and rust in broadbeans by sowing in spring if like me, you live in a high rainfall zone. A generous side dressing of wood ash also helps.
  • Direct sow greencrops in any gaps – oats, lupin, broadbeans, wheat, mustard. My favourite combo is Kings seeds pea/ oat mix.
  • Tray sow globe artichokes and onions.
  • Thin root crops for good sized crops
  • Save seed