June, the official start of winter, is when keen gardeners start to think about growing edible treats such as strawberries, garlic and shallots to be enjoyed next spring and summer. Our ‘Green Drought’ continues with enough rain to wash off the dust, make the lawns grow and the weed seeds germinate but nowhere near enough to really soak down into the subsoil so occasional watering may still be needed in the vegetable garden.
SEEDS TO SOW.
Only hardy varieties can be sown in June and I find I get the best result by sowing the seeds in containers and producing sturdy plants to plant out later. This gets them away to a good start as they deal with wintery conditions. Cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, lettuce, silver beet, beetroot, kohlrabi, perpetual spinach and spring onion all benefit from this method. Peas, broad beans and snow peas can be sown in pots or straight into the garden but I favour growing them in small pots before planting out.
First early potatoes can be planted in mid July so this is the time to prepare seed potatoes by chitting. Chitting involves pre-sprouting the tubers by putting them in trays (I use egg cartons) and placing them in a warm, light, dry spot to allow the young shoots to develop. Good early varieties include Cliffs Kidney, Jersey Bennes, Illam Hardy and Arran Banner.
VEGETABLES TO PLANT
Garlic, shallots, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, perpetual spinach, lettuce, rocket, spring onions, silver beet, kohlrabi and Florence fennel can all be planted this month.
GARLIC & SHALLOTS
Individual garlic cloves are usually planted point upwards approx 10cm apart with 15cm to 30cm between rows and covered with 2cm to 3cm of soil. Shallots are spaced 10cm apart with 20cm between rows with the base of the bulb pressed firmly into the soil but leaving the top half exposed.
Plant hardy herbs such as rosemary, thyme, sage, parsley and coriander. Mint is best in pots to prevent invasive roots and shoots from overpowering less vigorous plants.
Commercial strawberry growers like to get their beds planted as soon as possible in late autumn/early winter. Planting now allows the maximum time to produce a strong plant with a well developed root system that will support a large crop of succulent fruit. It also encourages early and prolonged cropping. If using bare-rooted strawberry plants that are dug straight out of the ground just be careful that the roots are never allowed to become dry before planting.
Next summer, here we come.
Contributed by Chris Green, SuperGrans WBOP Volunteer
Want to know more?
SuperGrans WBOP will be launching a Life Skills Mentoring Programme in Level 2 and will be welcoming applications from families wanting to learn how to start or improve a vegetable garden. You'll be matched with a "gardening buddy" who will support and guide you as you learn to grow your own food.
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