In the New England region, many regard Melbourne Cup Day as the time to plant out summer frost-tender vegetables.
That time is now just three weeks away - time to get moving with your summer vegies!
Now that daylight saving is with us again, use the extra hour of daylight at the end of the day to get your vegie garden prepared for planting.
More gardening with Dar:
Good soil is vitally important component of a successful vegie garden as it provides plants with essential nutrients required for a good harvest.
The main requirement of a soil for vegies is good physical condition. It should have a loose, crumbly structure which is capable of absorbing and holding water and nutrients but it should also be well aerated and drain easily.
Plant roots penetrate soft, loamy soil more easily and proper drainage is also essential as the roots of water-logged plants can't take up nutrients and may rot.
If possible, start with sandy loam and add organic matter. If your soil is sandy, add humus, compost or aged manure. If your soil is very clayey, add coarse sand and compost or well-aged manure mixed with fresh straw.
If you have impossibly rocky soil or solid clay, consider building some raised beds that you can fill with good soil. Growing vegetables in containers or grow bags are also options.
Generally, the goal is to enrich soil to provide nutrients. Compost, leaf-mould, or well-aged manure will increase the ability of your soil to both drain well and hold moisture. Note that fresh manure can harbor pathogens and may burn tender plant roots. Compost it for at least 6 to 12 months.
Asian and mustard greens, beetroot, carrots and parsnip, coriander, lettuce, potatoes, radishes, rocket, chicory, climbing peas, spring onions and silverbeet can all be sown from seed directly into the ground now.
Continue sowing broad beans, rocket, lettuce, mizuna and mustard greens every three weeks or so to prevent short term gluts and for a continuous supply.
Sometimes direct-sown seedlings can be sown a bit too thickly. When are 5-10 cm tall, they can be thinned out to allow them to grow more freely.
Using a pair of scissors will mean you don't disturb the roots of the remaining seedlings. Those remaining strongest plants will thrive in their newfound space, and you can use what you remove in a stir fry or salad.
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