Getting Your Garden Ready For Spring
Giving Your Southern Highlands Garden A Spring Clean
A few warm, spring days and pwfff, just like that, we're overcome with the urge to roll up our sleeves, pull on a hat and dash to the garden shed to dust off those gardening tools. But… which ones? If you’re a little confused about which plants to plant, which plants to prune and what-on-earth-to-actually-do, then read on…
Bring that veggie patch to life...
When it comes to The Southern Highlands veggie patch, no matter how tempted you might be to start planting those spring and summer veggies now, don't, unless you're confident they aren't frost sensitive! If you're even slightly unsure, wait until the frosts have passed, which should be around the October long weekend.
Right, so that means getting your veggie patch in order and ready for all that October planting... We checked in with local gardening pro Chris Webb for some advice on giving our veggie garden some love in spring.... below are some steps you should follow over the next few weeks to get that veggie patch ready:
1. Weed, weed, weed
Get rid of ‘em. All of ‘em. Weed not only the garden bed, but between them and around them. Wayward weeds spread quickly and far, so make sure you’re vigilant and proactive with weed control. Once you are weed-free add a good layer of manure and then mulch.
2. Plan and Rotate
Did you know you are meant to have a crop rotation plan? Well, you are. Don't worry, we just found this out as well! It’s good practice to keep a record of what's been planted where. Crop rotation maximises the growing conditions and assists in control of pests and diseases. Veggies should be grouped into their families or by similar growth characteristics and you should get across which crops shouldn't be grown in the same spot in subsequent seasons. Hence the need for a plan!
Make sure your plan covers the rotation of the legume family, such as beans, peas, lentils, etc. The nitrogen-hungry plants such as spinach, the brassicas and lettuce. All of those plants in the Allium family; onions, leek, garlic and chives and then all of your root vegetables, tomatoes and corn.
There are some vegetables which can stay put and don't need to be included in your rotation planning - most notably asparagus and the artichokes.
So, get yourself organised in September and identify where your crops are going to be planted and prepare the bed appropriately.
3. Frames and trellises
With your veggie patch plan in place, you can organise the frames for your climbing veggies. Peas and beans are the common ones, along with cucumber and pumpkins.
If you have an irrigation system already in place, give it a test and make sure it's in good working order. Here's a hot tip if it's new or hasn't been used for a while - make sure you familiarise yourself with the pipes as you don't want to go digging your garden fork through one! Also, please remember to make sure you are using water wisely at all times - have a read through Wingecarribee Council's tips on being water wise.
If you want to give those frost-sensitive vegetables a bit of a head start, you'll need to have a cold frame or a glasshouse to make this work. The main one that will benefit is the tomato, but you could always try any of the cucurbits (pumpkins, squash, zucchini).
6. Thinking ahead - prepping for next winter
So, now you've got you spring season planned, September is also a good time to start thinking about planting some of your winter veg (we know... who wants to plan that far in advance right?! Gardeners, that's who!). If you want a bumper winter crop, these are the ones to get planting now - beetroot, broad beans, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, chicory, chives, carrots, fennel, garlic, kohlrabi, leek, lettuce, mustard greens, parsley, parsnips, swedes, spinach and turnips.
Here's a very handy guide from the Highlands Garden Society on what vegetables and herbs you should be planting, and when in The Southern Highlands.
What plants and flowers should you be planting in your garden right now?
We checked in with the Welby Garden Centre team to see what we should be planting around this time of year:
- Deciduous trees
- Spring flowers such as petunias, dahlias, peonies (peony lovers - Welby has a rare type of peony in stock at the moment called trepeony pronounced tree-peony which you may want to take a look at)
Right, so here's what you need to be doing...
- You guessed it; weed. Get rid of them all!
- Feed your soil with manure. Dig it in under the top layer of soil where you can. This will also aerate the soil.
- After the winter winds, check any staked trees and plants are being strangled due to movement.
- Prune and cut back those plants that need a good trim. September is a good time to plant citrus, prune hydrangeas, divide and replant hellebores and fertilise camellias. If you're unsure of exactly what you're doing, we recommend speaking to one of the local garden centres, who are always extremely helpful with their advice.
- Spread mulch over the top layer of soil. It will help retain moisture and keep the soil cool, and ideally keep those weeds at bay. Handy hint - you can purchase mulch from our Resource Recovery Centre in Moss Vale.