Seasonal Guide & Gardening Tips

I have now been growing my own fruit and vegetables for a couple of years and have learnt a great may things since I started.  My first year was pretty much a random attempt to see what would grow and which was the best time to plant. Some things worked well, and some didn't.  This is what worked for me:


Spring:



What to plant:
Salad Vegetables: Asian Greens, Lettuce, Endive, Salad Greens, Silver Beet
Legumes: Beans, Peas
Root Vegetables: Beetroot, Carrots, Parsnips, Potatoes, Sweet Potato
Brassicas: Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Mustard
Mediterranean Vegetables: Capsicum, Chilli, Tomatoes, Eggplants
Gourds and assorted: Pumpkins, Squash, Zucchini, Corn, Cucumber
Fruit: Melons, Citrus

What to harvest:
  • Salad greens, Lettuce, Herbs, Spinach
  • Onions, Garlic, Leeks, Spring Onions
  • Beetroots, Carrots, Artichokes, Parsnips, Turnips
  • Remaining Brassicas
  • Peas and Beans
Jobs to do:
  • Propagate Summer seeds
  • Order Summer seedlings 
  • Weeding
  • Clean BBQ
  • Oil Deck
  • Clean, repair and oil outdoor furniture
Potential Problems
Weeds! And more weeds.  The bursts of lovely weather, and reasonable rainfall are not only beneficial for the new seedling, but provide a super growth environment for the weeds. 

Pests. Snails and slugs love Spring and put in a major effort to eat as many of the new seedings as possible.

Unexpected cold snaps.  Sudden changes in the weather can kill off new seedlings and inhibit the growth of your plants. It is always a risk, and unless you cover your seedlings or plant them late in the season, this may be a problem.

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Summer:


What to plant:
Pretty much anything goes in Summer.  Growth is prolific. 

Salad Vegetables: Asian Greens, Lettuce, Endive, Salad Greens, Silver Beet
Root Vegetables: Beetroot, Carrots, Parsnips 
Brassicas: Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Mustard
Mediterranean Vegetables: Capsicum, Chilli, Tomatoes, Eggplants
Gourds and assorted: Pumpkins, Squash, Zucchini, Corn, Cucumber

What to harvest:
  • Lettuce, Asian Greens
  • Tomatoes, Zucchinis and Eggplants
  • Capsicum & Chillies (late Summer)
  • Potatoes (early Summer)
  • Berries, Stone Fruit and Figs
Jobs to do:
  • Weeding
  • Fertilise plants
  • Dead head flowers
  • Prune and shape hedge plants
  • Fertilise citrus (late Summer)
  • Clean BBQ
  • Clean outdoor furniture
  • Tidy old bulbs (do not cut off dead growth - it feeds the bulbs - just tie it up or hide amongst other plants)
Potential Problems:
Mould and mildew Mildew and mould can be a problem when there are weeks of humidity and rain. This can really impact on peas, zucchinis and in some cases berries.  Regularly trim off the affected foliage and consider spraying with white oil.

Extreme dry and heat. This is likely to occur in January and early February and no amount of watering seems to help.  I have heard of people setting up umbrellas and shade cloth during really hot spells to protect their precious plants.  I suggest using a drip filter system and watering either late at night or early in the morning (taking into account local watering times and restrictions.)

HumidityYour lettuce and salad greens will bolt to seed with humid, hot and rainy weather.  Sometimes I just let them go and self seed the bed.

Autumn:

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What to plant in Autumn:
Salad Vegetables: Asian Greens, Lettuce, Endive, Salad Greens, Silver Beet, Spinach
Legumes: Beans, Peas
Root Vegetables: Beetroot, Carrots, Parsnips, Potatoes, Radish, Globe artichokes
OnionsOnions, Leeks, Garlic, Spring Onions, Fennel 
Brassicas: Broccoli, Broccolini, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Mustard, Chinese Cabbage
Fruit: Strawberries

What to Harvest:
  • Pumpkins, Squash, Corn, Potatoes
  • Capsicum, Chillies (early season)
  • Lettuce, Salad Greens, Herbs
  • Berries (early season)
  • Apples
Jobs to do:
  • Weeding
  • Remove dead annuals, trim hedges and vines
  • Dead head flowers
  • Cut away dead berry canes, prune fruit trees 
  • Clean BBQ (for Winter storage)
  • Clear Summer crops and till/fork through soil
  • Add manure, compost and fertilisers and dig through
  • Test soil and add necessary additives (dolomite for example)
  • Plant bulbs and sweat peas (April)
  • Lay down a layer of sugarcane mulch (or mulch of choice)
Potential Problems:
Sometimes cold snaps make it difficult to get seeds to germinate and seedlings to harden off (survive the cold).  You may want to consider using a frame over the beds to keep the seedlings warm.

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Winter:  

What to plant:
Salad Vegetables: Asian Greens, Lettuce, Endive, Salad Greens, Silver Beet, Spinach, Herbs
Legumes: Beans, Peas
Root Vegetables: Beetroot, Potatoes, Radishes, Parsnips 
Berries: Raspberry, Blackberry, Blueberry, Strawberries
Fruit Trees: Cherries, Apples, Pears, Citrus, Stone Fruits

What to harvest:
  • Broccoli (late)
  • Cabbage (late)
  • Cauliflower (late)
  • Potatoes (early)
Jobs to do:
  • Weeding
  • Clean tools
  • Clean out potting shed
  • Check use by dates on seeds and garden products
  • Work on paths, check garden edging
  • Outdoor maintenance
  • Prune fruit trees
Potential Problems:
Hard frosts 
This is just part of life in Melbourne.  Some folks I know keep a greenhouse, and others have designed covers for their garden beds to minimise the impact. 

Un-seasonal heat
Always nice for we humans but this can cause premature growth in seedlings, cause some of the Asian greens and herbs to bolt to seed, and result in some of the bulbs to flower early.  

Cabbage Moth
Not an unattractive moth being small, white and delicate.  They often appear in  impressive numbers and will decimate your entire crop of broccoli and cabbage in under a week. Harvest your crops as soon as you can.

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