Sunday, September 8, 2013

What to sow or plant in September

Really feels like Spring now, doesn't it? The Community Garden and the Food Forest are looking spectacular.

It's hard to know, nowadays, whether to expect more frosts or wild weather. But let's play it safe and assume this will be a normal spring with plenty of wind, hopefully a bit of rain, and more of these lovely warm days.

It's a busy time. Winter veggies that have finished or bolted can come out (let's face it, if they look daggy and caterpillar-infested, you'll feel a whole lot better when they're in the compost). Weeds are popping up everywhere so dig them out while they're little. They won't know what's hit them. Then you can look forward to the next crop.

Spuds have been available in many nurseries for a while now - perhaps you've already got yours in. If not, look for virus-free seed potatoes which come in a huge range of different options so you can choose your favourite potatoey goodness, or perhaps experiment with a few different varieties. Here's one way to get a bumper crop. Simply choose a bit of ground that's not too weedy. Slash or mow the grass, if there is any. Then spread out a good thick layer of newspaper, and plonk your seed spuds on it with plenty of space between them. Cover them all in a thick layer of pea straw or lucerne hay, and then cover that with a layer of compost or rotted manure. As the plants come up and get bushier, layer more straw around them to keep the light from reaching the tubers. Then when they're ready to harvest (after the plants turn yellow), all you have to do is lift the straw and there they'll be. Magic. This is a great use of ground that has been neglected for a while, or that you'd like to turn into a garden bed for the future. You can use the same method in hessian bags or those polystyrene boxes from the fruit shop (punch a few holes through for drainage) or even a cylinder of chicken wire - so long as you can layer the straw and compost, and keep the light from turning the potatoes green and evil. Good luck!

There are stacks of other things you can sow or plant now:

  • Artichoke
  • Broccoli
  • Beetroot
  • Bok choy
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower 
  • Celery
  • Carrots
  • Endive
  • Jerusalem artichokes
  • Kale
  • Kohlrabi
  • Leeks
  • Lettuce
  • Onions (late - try good keepers like Australian Brown)
  • Parsnips
  • Peas
  • Rocket
  • Silverbeet or rainbow chard
  • Spinach
  • Spring onions
  • Swedes
  • Turnips.

Traditionally, we plant our tomato seedlings around Cup weekend, to make sure all danger of frost has passed and provide them with a warm start to life. But if you're growing from seed in a nice protected spot or under glass, you can get them started in punnets now and plant them out later on. The same goes for basil, cucumber, eggplants,  pumpkin, zucchini, squash and even sweetcorn. It's also a great time to divide or plant rhubarb, and to sprinkle around seeds of coriander and parsley.

Lots to do. If you have any planting suggestions or tips, or fabulous recipes for our harvest, do let us know. Happy gardening!