November in My Green Garden
Melbourne in Spring is temperamental at best – after a couple of days of heat we are hit with chilling cold once again. At least as humans we can cover up against the cold, or seek some shelter from the hot winds, but our plants can’t so sometimes we need to protect them from the extremes. This month will see me alternating between shade cloth hastily erected against the hot afternoon sun and covering them with my plastic bottle covers against chilly nights. Ahh – Melbourne in the spring…
It is still a busy time in my produce garden, and hoping to get the rest of the summer vegies in this month.
Cucumbers: This year I am determined to try and do some succession planting ie not plant everything out at once to harvest all at the same time, so I have some cucumbers already in the ground, some just newly planted and others still just popping up out of the jiffy pellets that I get the seeds started in. The only problem with this method is that I quickly run out of space to put them all in!
Beans: The tall climbing beans will be planted as part of my “Three Sisters” guild ie corn supporting the growth of the beans and having a groundcover of (in my case) cucumbers. I have been waiting for the sweetcorn to grow a little taller before I plant the beans, so that they don’t get swamped. Unfortunately, the first sweetcorn seedlings that went in, from my (toilet roll) biodegradable pots, were found lying on their sides after the second night they went in the soil. The leafy growth wasn’t touched, just cut off at the base, which makes me suspect it was mice who came to eat the corn seeds. Drat those varmints!
Pumpkins: I have sown several plants of the Golden Nugget pumpkins, which produce small but tasty golden fruit. The plant too is more compact than most rampant pumpkins so I will try and train one to grow up a fence and see how it goes. They are great keepers and we finished last year’s crop in September.
Tomatoes: I need to wait for some peas to finish producing and then get the bed cleared before I get another 10 or so tomato seedlings in. They had outgrown their original pots so I potted them up so that they can get to a nice size by the time they get into the soil. I need to remember too to add a pinch of potash at planting time to encourage them to set flowers rather than grow enormously.
Lettuces: More in and more seed sown, both directly and in punnets. One added benefit of teaching classes on how to grow veg is that I show them how to sow lettuce seeds in punnets and I always get to take the demonstration punnet home to grow on. Can never have too much lettuce for lovely sweet salads.
Cabbages: I grew these for the first time this year and was a bit disappointed over winter that they didn’t do much. We tend to use cabbage as a filler in minestrone soups and stir-fries, more cold-time fare for us. But it took some direct sunlight, which their bed didn’t get over winter, for them to fatten up quickly. We’ve eaten some and now have three more to get through in the fridge. Maybe some coleslaw this time!
Asparagus: I need to stop harvesting these delicious spears and let them replenish themselves for future harvests. It has been a fantastic season and we have had at least two meals each week with the fat spears but time to let them rest, rather than continually push up this eponymous taste of spring.
Celery: How much do you need? I am loathe to pull it all out but I need the space. Besides, it starts to get stringy now. I have preserved some by washing it and then chopping it in chunks to freeze. This then gets taken out and added directly to soups if the need arises. This might be another plant to consider doing some succession planting with next year.
Peas: see tomatoes above. Can you beat the sweetness of freshly picked tender peas?
Spinach and silverbeet: some of it is starting to bolt now, so I will pick it, lightly steam it and then freeze in blocks to add to cooked recipes as needed. Made some delicious spanakopita last night with heaps of it.
Onions and garlic: they are both fattening up nicely so I look forward to their harvest before too long, but it probably won’t be until December.