Kitchen Garden Spring Jobs
This spring try something new: a vertical pumpkin patch; a fence line of sweet potato or a hanging basket filled with the sweetest, most productive strawberry ever.
Here are some of the other things we'll be planting, picking, preparing and admiring, as well as jobs we'll be doing in the vegie patch this spring
This spring try something new: a vertical pumpkin patch
Pumpkins need lots of space, not necessarily along along the ground: grow them up a trellis or fence to save room. They need a long warm season, deep organic soil, liquid potash during flowering and regular watering. Native bees are the best pollinators so ensure a bee-friendly environment. Fruit will be ready to harvest 14-20 weeks from sowing, when the stems are woody and dry. Snip with scissors, leaving a 5cm stem. ‘Jap’, ‘Butternut’, ‘Queensland Blue’, ‘Triamble’, ‘Turk’s Turban’ and ‘Ironbark’ are all delicious and we also love a rare French pumpkin called ‘Potimarron’ which is named for its chestnut flavour.
Sweet potato is vigorous vine to plant now. You’ll be harvesting the underground tubers throughout the warmer weather. We had a sensational crop of an heirloom red kumera we grew vertically up fencing wire last summer. The kids were impressed!
Sweet potato is vigorous vine to plant now
Two favourites: ‘Temptation’, a non-running, long-fruiting strawberry perfect for pots and baskets; and ‘Yellow Wonder’, a heritage ancestor of the modern strawb, with soft yellow fruit that develops all through summer and autumn.
Plant strawberries now
Pull out winter crops and improve the soil with cow manure, blood and bone, compost, dolomite, and potash. Water it all in with Eco-hydrate to allow for maximum water retention.
Start again in the emptied compost bin, adding kitchen scraps, garden prunings, cow manure, dolomite, potash and blood and bone to the pile in layers.
Don’t forget to get the last chitted potatoes into a 40cm deep trench, planted 20cm apart on a thick bed of compost and manure. Keep them well-fed and watered for a bumper crop by Christmas.
Sow a line of sunflowers around the vegetable patch – not just for those cheery faces through summer, but to use the tall stems as supports for climbing beans.
Dot calendula, tansy, fennel and wormwood around the vegetable patch, to ward away insect pests and attract beneficial bugs.
Sow a line of sunflowers around the vegetable patch
Pick all the coriander before it starts to flower, leaving a single stem to flower and set seed for next year. Plant the spot up with basil for summer.
Broccoli, cauliflower, kale and cabbage should be at their peak now. Broccoli will often develop secondary sprouts after the first harvest of the main head.
Lettuce and boy choy grow quickly and are ready to harvest in just six weeks. Sow or plant a few more every few weeks to keep the harvest going, use liquid foliar feeds to promote speedy growth and mild sweet flavours.
Peas and broad beans are good bedfellows. Both are legumes that bind nitrogen to the soil through their roots. Follow the pea and bean harvest by planting leafy greens into that nitrogen-enriched soil for speedy tasty leaves.
Follow the pea and bean harvest by planting leafy greens
Grow tomatoes up cylinders made of fencing wire. Try ‘Tommy toe’, available at your local nursery.
Plant corn in squares, not rows, to get the most out of the wind pollination. American Indians used to grow beans up the corn stalks and plant squash as a carpet underneath. Excellent plan!
Snow peas take no time to scale chicken wire cylinders or tepees. Given they produce so much in such a short time, we should plant them more often.
Dot basil plants around tomatoes.
Try gherkin cucumbers for something new. We are trying to ferment gherkin this season – with a vegetable starter. We’ll let you know how we go!
Plant corn in squares, not rows, to get the most out of the wind pollination