Are you ready for Spring? -by Max Lindegger
What a winter it has been. So many vegetables to enjoy, some very warm days, many mild nights, and some good frosts ( here at CW) but much too dry.
The average rain to August is 999mm ( 89 rain days)
The total so far for 2018 is 824 mm ( 124 rain days)
To this day in 2017 we had 766 mm ( 102 rain days)
The min average temp was 7.8C for the month ( minus 1.6C)
The max average temp was 24.4C ( plus 1.2 C)
Are you ready for Spring?
I used to have a Phenomena calendar ( I think this what they call them) It was really useful to go back many years and see when trees started to flower…when the frosts happened…birds arrived back.
The native Americans had very accurate calendars. I remember one thing” When the oak leaves are the size of a squirrels ears is the time to plant corn” – love it. It does mean that you have to get out and watch what is happening in nature. And you have to know the size of a squirrels ear.
Anyway, the bud-burst has happened on the Liquid Amber. It means the start of Spring to me.
It is still risky to plant frost sensitive plants ( Zucchini, Capsicum…) in the valleys, lower and exposed areas, but the rest of us should be OK. For warmer and protected areas you may like to try an earlier planting of warm weather vegetables.
Indeed in areas where frost is not an issue anymore Zucchinis often do really well this time of the year as the days are long enough and the humidity quite low. The risk of Mildews is much reduced.
The first of the summer seedlings will be available early so that the enterprising gardener with a frost free garden can start now with planting. Think early Sweet Corn, Cucumbers..Beans.
After a number of warm August weeks – we are getting used to mild winters – we may get a bit cocky and take a risk or two.
It is too late to plant cool weather vegetables.
A little patients in cool areas and using the month to get gardens ready will pay-off in the months after. September is often the month when we get some very warm, and rather un-seasonable days and they will help to warm the ground up in readiness for the major summer plantings next month. Your compost should be nice and ready now. Keep it just moist. Cover compost which is ready as lower humidity will dry it out quite quickly and reduce its value .All soils will benefit from an addition of compost. It is not necessary to dig the compost in – simply spread it over the top and cover it with a thin layer of mulch. Compost will increase the water holding capacity of your soil ( less watering), add nutrients and trace elements ( less fertiliser and better tasting vegetables) ,a small amount of worm castings will make the soil much easier to ” work” ( a lot more fun)
September is generally a dry month here and this is also the BOM’s forecast. Early morning fogs help to put a little moisture back. Every drop helps.
Check your vegetables regularly to see that they don’t dry out. Water well so that the roots are forced deep. Watering is very important for vegetables like Celery or they will get stringy. Broccoli plants will be rather big by now. Water regularly and you will be able to keep picking many more small heads. Carrots too need very deep watering to stay sweet. We had the garden full of vegetables all winter and have been selling surplus. Peas have been wonderful, the Salad Vegetables lovely and crisp and show wining Spring Onions and Parsley and we had an OK crop of Broccoli( not as good as last year – the days may have been too warm) and other Brassica’s.
September/October is of course a good time to put some Potatoes in again – if you can find planting material. By planting now they should escape the extreme wet of summer. Potatoes grown in the cooler part of the year are tastier anyway. And remember to mulch really well. Spread some clean wood ash over the beds. The potatoes will like it. A handful per square meter is all they need. I saw an item on ” Gardening Australia” where a gardener removed all except one eye on his seed potatoes. It would make sense to give the one growing point all the energy of the tuber and I will give it a try.
Apropos watering. Drip irrigation will supply enough water for all young seedlings but some extra water is required for larger plants. Drip Irrigation combined with mulch is probably the most water efficient way to grow decent vegetables in our climate. During the dry season it is important not to under-water or some vegetables will be tough or prone to insect attack ( stress related) Watch out for Aphids. You may like to introduce some lacewings. We often do! Let some Brassica’s and indeed any flowering vegetable go to flower ( Tatsoi, Pak Choy, Italian Parsley, Broccoli, Rocket, Radishes…) to attract beneficial insects.
Protect all the frost tender vegetables (very important with Lettuce) if you get any frosty mornings. The locals tell me that the Kenilworth Rodeo ( usually in mid-September) is generally the last frost date. One of the worst frosts I can remember here was on the 13. September. It has been quite warm during the day but don’t get to adventurous in lower areas just yet!
This is still Asparagus month around here. If you have not already planted them, plant them now urgently and keep moist. If you have Asparagus planted in the past you will have a good harvest ahead.
Established plants will have the new shoots up by the first week of the month or earlier. Some will be up already as August was warm. Well established plants can be harvested for about 6 weeks. Crowns planted a year ago are best left alone so that they can photosynthesise and build up food stores for next year. It is OK to take a modest harvest – for about 3 weeks – and then let them grow vigorously.
If you planted Calendula some months back you would have been enjoying the bright flowers for the last month and many months to come. Heartsease and Dianthus too will look splendid by now.
The bees are having a wonderful time with the Blue Gum. We will have plenty of honey available at the market. Blue Gum honey is not common. You will find that it has a large amount of pollen mixed in – very un-usual here and an absolute delicacy
Don’t be shy and ask us for a jar with lots of pollen – it floats to the top as a whitish crème.
September is a wonderful month in our region. The mornings are still cool enough to put in a good effort before lunch. No excuse not to have all the garden ready for peak summer planting next month.
– have your trellises ready for Cucumbers and Beans
– reserve a bed for Potatoes and one for Sweet Corn. How about Sweet Potatoes this year?
– a semi-shady spot for Lettuces is OK as the weather is getting warmer
Salad greens will be the favourites for the next few months. As the weather warms Lettuce can bolt pretty quickly. Keep them in a little bit of shade. The same applies to Rocket and Coriander .Lettuce can be a slightly bitter if we have hot weather. We suggest that you plant some of each every month so you never run out and you can pull those out which have bolted.
What to plant in September: Radish, Lettuce, Onions, Spring Onions, Carrots, Silver Beet, Beetroot, Chicory, Pak Choy, Tatsoi, Parsley, Mizuna, Mibuna, Celery – Flowers and Potatoes. Beans, Cucumbers, Tomatoes, Basil, Coriander and other herbs, flowers and early Sweet Corn for warmer areas.!! Capsicum, Zucchini, Squash, Pumpkin and Eggplant for warm areas.
I get often asked what the ideal pH was for various vegetables. I have included a list below. In my experience I have found that if you have a soil high in organic matter the pH is less of an issue. Still, for best results it is worthwhile to aim for a level close to the remanded.
Green Harvest sell pH kits and tools suitable for the home gardener. See here http://www.greenharvest.com.au/tools/soil_testing_and_monitoring_prod.html
Witta market on the 15. September Lots of seedlings available and there will be an early rush!
Remember: Next Beekeeping Workshop: 8. September.
max and Trudi
Pat and John
59/65 Kilcoy Lane
Conondale QLD 4552
Tel: 07 54944741
From: Max Lindegger [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org