Gardening: Crab apples add spring charm

Spare a thought for those whose gardens have been decimated by hurricane Irma in the Caribbean. We may have had strong winds, but nothing like Irma!

Crab apples

Despite the dry, the crab apples are “flowering their heads off” at the moment. Crab apples are surely one of the loveliest of the deciduous trees for cold-climate gardens. They are mostly small to medium trees and require a cold winter to set fruit.

Not only do crab apples provide a fabulous display of fragrant, delicate, usually soft pink flowers in spring, they have rich deep green foliage in summer and brilliant autumn foliage. Then in autumn, they produce the  crabs (miniature apples). There is a huge variety.

In the vegie garden

It’s time to get the vegie garden ready for spring sowing.

Seeds of beetroot, carrots, parsnip, lettuce, peas and snow peas, rocket (arugula) and radish can be sown directly into the ground. Plant out artichokes, broad beans, silver beet or rainbow chard, swedes and turnips.

Seeds of tomatoes, cucumber, melons, pumpkin, squash, sweet corn, zucchini, and eggplant can be sown into seed trays in preparation for planting out after the danger of frosts has passed. This will give them a head start so you can harvest earlier.

If the recent very warm weather has tempted you to plant out these vegies now, be sure to keep an eye on the weather forecasts as October frosts are common. Many locals wait until Melbourne Cup before planting.

Eggplant, chillies and capsicum are also frost tender but need a long growing season so are best started under cover so they are more advanced when planted. Harvest asparagus spears when they are young and tender – don’t let them advance. Also, don’t harvest in the first year of growth. Keep up with the weeding and practise your rain dancing!

The Armidale Garden club’s next meeting is this Thursday 26 October at 7.30pm in the Uniting Church Hall. Supper is provided.