October in the Veggie Patch

At our place we are currently enjoying loads of freshly picked asparagus, kale, rainbow chard (silverbeet), lettuces, rhubarb, cabbages and broccoli. Soon there will be broad beans, strawberries, peas and loads more!

The “to do” list:
• Sow seed and plant seedlings of all herbs now, including basil later in the month. Many herbs make excellent companion plants for your vegetables e.g. Basil and tomatoes go well together. Also garlic planted near tomatoes will help deter aphids.
• Plant seeds of beetroot, broccoli, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, celery, Chinese cabbage, endive, kohl rabi, leeks, lettuce, parsnip, bush and climbing peas (earlier in the month), spring onions, radish, rocket, silverbeet, spinach. Seeds for frost sensitive plants such as pumpkin, tomatoes, melons, capsicum, chilli, eggplant, zucchini etc. can be planted in pots in a sunny window or other warm, protected spot – they can’t be planted out into the garden until after frosts are finished and the soil has warmed up – usually after cup day in Wooragee.
• Feed veggies with liquid fertilizer fortnightly to keep them growing especially the leafy ones. Don’t liquid feed tomatoes until the first flowers appear – we want fruit not leaves here. I use a mixture of liquid manure (home made) and Sea-sol and sometimes I add a small spoonful of trace elements.
• Pick off or brush off any caterpillars, aphids and other insect affecting your plants. This reduces chemical usage and saves water.
• Protect seedlings from slugs and snails by using home-made traps such as saucers of beer. Rows of crushed egg shells or sawdust will make it uncomfortable for snails to travel across.
snail ban
• Always use seed well before its use-by date check the packet for the sowing time in your area.
• Spray fruit trees with a preventative spray such as lime-sulphur for healthier fruit trees.
• Mulch strawberries and rhubarb now, and cut off any rhubarb heads going to seed. Mulching now prevents leaf disease later.
• Start preparing sweet potato tubers to produce the offshoots needed for this summer’s plants. Do this by burying the tubers into moist sand and keeping them in warm place until shoots appear. Snip the shoots off when 6cm long and plant into pots of rich soil and allow to continuing growing until the weather allows them to be planted into the garden.
iStock_Sweet potatoes


Growing Your Own Vegetables – The Basics

Growing your own vegetables is an amazingly satisfying way to provide your family with the freshest, healthiest vegetables whilst saving buckets of money.
There are some fundamental guidelines which will ensure your success.
1. Grow the vegetables you and your family like to eat which are suited to your climate and to the time of year being considered.
2. Run your beds north and south. if, however, due to the shape of the and contour of your block this is not possible, at least run the rows that way.
This will ensure that the plants receive maximum sunshine.
3. Raise the beds – few plants can withstand wet feet. Beds can be edged with bricks, rocks or timber – we are currently using branches from the trees demolished in a storm last year (We planted these trees some 15 years ago as part of the re-vegetation of the creek which runs through our property – it eased the heartache of the destruction to put the timber to good use, especially as they were unsuitable for firewood)
4. Ensure that the paths are of a porous material and not concrete. Gravel, pebbles, wood shavings, saw dust or bark chips. We use the mulch produced from tree prunings.
5. Check that the pH of the soil is somewhere between 6.5 – 7. There are many kits on the market to do this. In Wooragee, our soils tend to be very acidic and you will need to add lime to each bed most years to increase the pH.
6. Practice crop rotation – do not grow vegetables from the same family in the same bed each year. A good rotation is legumes, which have the knack of fixing nitrogen from the air to their roots and so to your soil. This can be followed by one of the brassicas as they need a soil enriched by compost and animal manures and can utilise the nitrogen fixed by the previous crop. follow with a root vegetable or onions as these crops do not need a rich soil.
7. Feed your soil, maintain adequate moisture levels and keep the weeds under control – mulching with organic matter helps with all these tasks. We use autumn leaves and lawn clippings to mulch our vegie garden beds, always ensuring that each bed has a generous layer of manure and compost before being mulched.