At last, spring has sprung. The spring blossoms and spring bulbs are making a good showing. The vegetable garden beds have been fed and dug over and they are ready for sowing and planting some summer season vegetable crops, but some crops will have to wait until the danger of frosts has passed. Vegetables that can be planted this month are spring onions, spinach, silverbeet, lettuces, peas, celery, beans and seed potatoes, but watch out for frosts and cover with frost cloth if required. Start growing your favourite summer vegetable seedlings from seed in seed raising trays. Sow seeds of tomatoes, basil, lettuces, parsley, cabbages, capsicums, cauliflower, cucumbers and courgettes so that they are ready to plant out when the frosts are behind us.
Buy good quality, certified, seed potatoes and place them in old egg cartons in a cool dry place for sprouting. The sprouts should be about 2cms long when planting out as this gives them a good head start once they are in the soil. Dig a trench about 15cms to 20cms deep, shovelling the soil off to one side. Then using a trowel dig a little hole at the bottom of the trench for each seed potato to sit into. I throw a sprinkling of neem tree granules along the bottom of the trench and into each hole before planting the seed potatoes, to help ward off pests and diseases.
The seed potatoes should be planted at about 50cms apart along the row and the rows should be about 60cms apart. Place the seed potatoes in the holes with the sprouts upwards. Spread a little blood and bone along the bottom of the trench before refilling, and then mound the
row up as high as you can. It will take a few weeks before the new shoots show through the top of the mound and by that time the frosts should be finished. This year I am growing one of the early cropping varieties, Jersey Benne. If, like me, you
planted out your early cropping seed potatoes last month, keep the frost cloth handy to protect the new plants. There is nothing like fresh spuds for Xmas..!!
Sow a row of peas to have with your new potatoes at Xmas. Make a shallow trench about 10cms wide and 2cms deep. Stagger the pea seeds about 5cms apart along each side of the trench, cover and tamp down. Erect some chicken netting above the row for the peas to climb up, staking it upright at each end. Sow rows of dwarf green beans and butter beans. Around Xmas these can be cooked with meals or used in salads. Plant a row of lettuces, then plant another row every 3 or 4 weeks after that. Give the rhubarb plant a good feed of organic fertiliser such as blood & bone and sheep pellets.
The fruit trees and roses could probably use another spray with copper oxychloride this month, followed a couple of weeks later with spraying oil. I have been spraying our peach tree with Condys Crystals as well, hoping that will help to cure the leaf curl that it seems to get every year. The leaf curl doesn’t do any damage to the fruit, but it makes the tree look a bit ugly. The affected leaves will curl up, and then go an orange colour before falling off and are then replaced with nice healthy leaves.