August in the Vegie Patch

Tasks for this month

The “grass crunching” frosts we have been experiencing lately certainly make an early start in the garden an unlikely event; however, the crisp, clear weather later in the day makes gardening a pleasure.

• Plant the last of the deciduous trees & rhubarb and asparagus crowns if you have not already done so. Time is running out for this task, so this needs to be done sooner rather than later.

• Spray peach & nectarine trees at bud swell with lime-sulphur for early control of curly leaf.

• Check plants for scale – particularly a problem for citrus and olives. These plants are prone to attack by scale and the subsequent sooty mould. Sooty mould is nothing more than scale or aphid droppings gone mouldy. Get rid of the underlying disease and you get rid of the mould problem.
The best way to kill scale insects is by using white oil emulsion, or pest oil, to suffocate them.
An economical white oil can be produced with this recipe:
Pour a cup of cheap cooking oil into an empty, litre size plastic water bottle. Add half a cup of water and three to four drops of washing-up detergent. Then put the cap on and shake vigorously. The liquid will turn white – this is white oil emulsion (the detergent acts to prevent the oil/water mixture separating). This simple mixture works perfectly as a scale killer when diluted with about 40 parts of water.
Spray it under and over infested leaves, branches and trunk. It acts by sealing the edges of the little scale humps thereby suffocating the insects hiding underneath. Use the spray two or three times over the next few weeks and watch your plant’s health improve each day.

• Common problems for pear and cherry trees are the pear and cherry slug (which can rapidly skeletonise the leaves) and pear scab. Both can be controlled by spraying the foliage in late spring and early summer with a solution made by dissolving a big handful of builders’ lime in a bucket of water. Alternatively, throw fine wood ash over the leaves.

• Pruning: This month is an excellent time to prune deciduous fruit trees such as apples, pears and plums. Pruning is not essential for fruit production but it will ensure that your trees will remain a manageable size and still produce a reliable crop of acceptable size and quality with a minimum of disease

• Plant seedlings of onions, broccoli, kale, mustard greens, peas, salad greens like mizuna, mitsuba (Japanese parsley or Garden Betty) and spinach.
Peas can be planted – but coat the seeds in cooking oil in case they rot in cold soil. Dust them with white pepper after oiling if you’re worried by snails.

• At this time of year your winter vegetables will be starting to come to an end. August is a good month for you to start to decide what vegetables you are going to want to grow in spring. Some good vegetables to consider are carrots, lettuce, leeks, onions, spring onions, peas, tomatoes, melons, zucchini, pumpkins Asian vegetables and beans. Cold winter afternoons can be happily spent, by the fire, exploring seed catalogues and ordering your seeds in plenty of time for planting in later spring. When planning your spring/summer garden the important things to consider are:
1. What do we like to eat
2. How much space/time do I have
3. How much water will I have for my garden.

Happy gardening till next month


What to Plant in the Vegie Patch in March

Autumn has arrived and the time has come for the vegie gardener’s big challenge – when is it time to pull out the tomatoes, basil, squash, zucchini, beans etc. and replace them with winter treats!! As the days shorten and the nights get cooler, the productivity of these plants drops markedly and we need to prepare room for our winter veggies to make sure there is always something fresh to serve for winter meals – what could be nicer than a pot of soup made from your homegrown carrots, celery, dried beans and bottled tomatoes?
It is now time to plant some coriander seeds and you could also try some mint and lemon balm but be very careful of these plants and ensure they are adequately contained – it is staggering how far they can spread if left to their own devices!!
Tasty vegetables such as Chinese cabbage, spinach,tatsoi, rocket,silverbeet, broccoli, spring onions, leeks, lettuces, carrots, beetroot and parsnip can all be planted now.
An extensive planting of carrots now will provide carrots for the entire winter and also the early spring.carrots
Other crops, such as lettuce, spinach tatsoi etc. are better planted as successive, regular small crops to ensure a regular supply and avoid a glut!
Broad beans can also be planted now. I like to plant one crop for household use and then another bed full of broad beans to use as a green manure crop.
broad beans