Many people have been out and about, enjoying the warmer weather lately.
Many, too, have been in their vegie gardens, planning, preparing and planting in anticipation of bounteous harvests of summer vegies. There's nothing like a hint of warm weather to get even non-gardeners outdoors and planting something!
Lettuce is a cool season crop but can be grown pretty much year-round and doesn't require much attention other than regular watering. There is a large variety of types and therefore flavours.
Lettuces need to be grown quickly for best flavour and the easiest way to do this is to make sure your beds are well prepared. Lettuce needs a well-drained soil with lots of organic matter and mulch. Work some compost and manure through the top few centimetres of soil.
Seedlings are available but lettuce germinates readily from seed so sprinkle in some seed and you can have lettuces ready in just 8-10 weeks.
Lettuces have shallow roots and so they need frequent watering, especially in hot and/or windy weather. Keep the area well mulched with about 5-7cm of mulch and regularly check if you need to water. If the soil dries out too much, lettuces can easily run to seed, which makes them taste bitter and wastes the plant.
Summer sowings of lettuces can be made in partly shaded spots in your vegie patch or in the shade of taller growing vegies like beans and sweet corn.
It's time to start thinking about sowing seed of tomatoes, capsicum, chilli, eggplant, cucumber, melons, pumpkins, squash, zucchini and sweet potato.
These vegies all need a soil temperature of at least 15 degrees C for germination and so are best started in punnets, small pots or multi-celled seed trays which can be kept in a warm spot indoors. Fill your punnets/pots with a good quality seed raising mix and press gently to firm it down.
For tomatoes and similar small seeds, plant two seeds into each cell or pot. Larger seeds like zucchini just need one per pot.
Cover with a thin layer of seed raising mix, water in gently and put in a warm position but not in direct sunlight. Keep moist until the seed germinates and until the seedlings are at least 5 cm tall, when they can be planted into larger pots or straight in the ground if frosts are finished.