April: Its time to…

The hipster trend of growing kale makes me laugh, but it’s really the most unpretentious of vegetables. The fashion is new but kale has been grown in Siberia for centuries and it came out on the First Fleet. Just plant one or two and pick stems for kale chips and my favourite green smoothie. Protect seedlings from cabbage moth by making a little net over the top or whacking is a solar powered butterfly to ward away marauding moths.

The delicate sway of Japanese windflowers (Anenome) intoxicates me in autumn. Tones of white, lilac and pink match nicely with the purple tones of shade lovers like Plentranthus ecklonii and Plectranthus ‘Mona Lavender’.

Collect autumn leaves to make a nutritious leaf mulch for acid-loving plants such as camellias, azaleas and gardenia. Fill a black plastic bag with leaves and add a handful of blood and bone. Moisten the mix then tie it off and leave it to brew for 5-6 months. Spread mulch over beds in summer.

Pick leaves of lemon-scented myrtle (Backhousia citriodora) and infuse in boiling water for a few minutes. Sip hot, or chill and pour over ice.

Fertilise citrus trees with a mix of compost, cow manure and powdered rock minerals.

In temperate areas: Clumping perennials such as salvia, yarrow (Achillea) and gaura can be divided once they have finished flowering. Share the excess with friends or repeat groupings through the garden. In cooler areas this can wait until early spring.

Strappy-leafed plants such as liriope, kangaroo paw, agapanthus and clivia can also be divided now. Dig up, divide, soak in seaweed solution, prune off leaves, then replant, spacing plants at correct spacings.

Deadhead roses, perennials and dahlias to prolong flowering.

Buy tubestock to create a new native wildflower garden to love in spring. I’ve have found its cheaper and more effective to buy smaller pot sizes as the plants grow faster.

Plant now…

garlic shutterstock_56275000PEAS
Podding and snow peas are best grown from seed. If you dry and collect the seed at the end of the season you’ll only ever have to buy pea seed once! Add a little garden lime before sowing and avoid sowing during rain.

Easter signals garlic-planting time. We plant 100-150 cloves about 5cm deep and the harvest supplies the family all year. Buy garlic bulbs from a reputable organic supplier.

Sow a square of parsnip, using fresh seed.  Don’t delay as cool soil will impede germination.

Plant a patch of Florence fennel bulbs. They are delicious thinly sliced with smoked salmon and lemon juice and can also be let go to seed to attract beneficial bugs such as ladybirds.