There’s been some very hot weather on the border - and our plants bore the brunt of it. Vegetable gardens for miles suffered severely during the days of over 40 degrees; some recovered, some didn’t.
For those who persevere with vegetable growing through summer and into early autumn, let’s look at what can be planted.
Beetroot seed can still be planted and you can keep planting crops until April. Keep them well-watered and harvest regularly.
Carrot seeds can go in now as well – but the heat might cause problems with germination. Water the ground well before sowing the seed and then cover the area with anything that will provide heavy shade. Some people even put boards over the ground to hold in the moisture. Remember to check regularly and remove covers once the seed has germinated.
If you want to put in marrows, cucumbers or zucchini, you have left it too late.
Lettuce can always be planted in the garden; it seems to be a winner no matter what month you plant it. Because lettuce is shallow-rooted you will need to water it daily while the weather is hot. The same applies to radishes; you can plant them all through autumn quite successfully.
Turnips are an easy crop to grow. If you haven’t grown them before you should give them a try; they are a great vegetable for stews and casseroles and are fine grated raw and added to salads. You can sow turnip seeds right through until April. They can be harvested anywhere from six to ten weeks after germination.
Silverbeet seed can be sown most of the year, except for the coldest months during winter. It grows well in most soils and needs masses of compost or well-rotted manure for vigorous growth.
Other crops that can be planted now include chives, oregano, parsley and beans.
If we have a few hot days in autumn and your watering gets neglected and the soil gets dry, this can cause your plants to bolt. If you don’t know what bolting is, this is when plants flower and seed prematurely. If your lettuce and parsley and other vegetables bolt then they’re useless for harvesting.
The vegetable garden is quite productive during late summer and into autumn, but remember watering is the main issue – maybe we should all have automatic sprinkler systems on our next Christmas wish list.
At Wodonga TAFE, most horticultural classes have started or are just starting. However, enrolments can be taken throughout the year, so if you’re keen to study horticultural subjects, pop in to the department in University Drive and we’ll explain what’s still available.