Your Spring Garden

By Rebecca Sprosen – Allendale Nursery

If you haven’t spent some of those nice sunny winter days preparing your patch for spring vegetables, then now is the time. Firstly, dig over the area removing all weeds, rocks and debris. Boost your soil with organic compost and/or old animal manure 1-2 weeks before you plant any vegetables. 

As the weather warms you should be thinking about mulching your garden with pea straw or similar as these are the easiest to work with when planting new seedlings and mulch is vital for the ability to retain moisture in summer. 

Once you’ve got the garden set up it’s time to plant. In the early part of the season September and October err to caution as we still have frosts to contend with. Some of the vegetables that can tolerate this are Asian vegetables, Artichoke, Broccoli, Broccolini, Cabbages, Cauliflower, Leeks, Lettuces, Silverbeet, Coloured Chards, Spring Onions. 

As the warmer weather starts heating up the soil the planting gets a little more exciting. It’s all the summer favourites, Capsicum, Chilli, Cucumbers, Eggplants, Lettuces, Sweet Corn, Zucchini and Tomatoes. 

Let’s elaborate a little on Tomatoes, which seems to be almost everyone’s favourite. You just can’t beat the feeling of juice dripping down your chin when you bite into a big juicy tomato, nor the burst of flavor you get when you pop a little cherry tomato into your mouth. Understanding just a few basics will help you choose the appropriate tomato for your household. 

Determinate – tomatoes stop their shoot production once flowers form on the end. For example; Tiny Tim, Patio. Indeterminate – tomato varieties will form flowers along the sides of the shoots, but they continue growing until past frost or cold. For example; Tommy Toe, Apollo, Black Russian. 

Early season fruiting: Tomatoes that produce 40-70 days after transplanting, can set fruit when temperatures are still relatively cold. Example Apollo, Black Russian. Mid-season fruiting: Tomatoes that produce 70-84 days after planting that come to harvest in mid-summer. Example Tommy Toe, Roma. Late season fruiting: Tomatoes that produce 80-100 days after planting late summer early autumn. Example Gross Lisse. Just a few tips to growing fantastic tomatoes. 

Find a sunny spot, but in extreme heat protect with shade cloth. 
Stake early so as not to disturb roots later. 
Deep Planting – tomatoes are one of the few vegetables that can develop roots from nearly any part of their stems. 
Water deeply and mulch, mulch, mulch. 
Remove lower leaves to avoid soil borne diseases. 
Remove lateral side shoots and tie plants with soft cloth ties as they grow. Enjoy your garden, until next time.