Planting can start as soon as the soil is dry enough to dig without it sticking to your tools. Where the soil is heavy or the climate is very wet, raised beds are a great way to achieve warmer, better-drained soil.
Plant out brassica seedlings; broccoli, cabbage, kale, cauliflower into well-prepared soil rich in compost. Brassica plants prefer a higher pH than most, so the addition of lime to ‘sweeten’ the soil can make a big difference to the size and quality of your harvest.
Sow pea seeds directly into well-prepared soil with added compost. Simple teepees made from bamboo stakes make attractive climbing frames for peas.
Plant early and main crop potatoes. An assortment of varieties will give you a range of harvest times from Christmas through till autumn.
Plant herbs for flavour, colour and variety. Perennial herbs such as sage, thyme and rosemary can be cut back for a fresh flush of growth. Plant new parsley plants so they’ll be growing strongly before the old ones go to seed. Sow frost-tender herbs such as basil in trays for planting out later.
Start an asparagus patch. Asparagus is a perennial plant that can be left in the ground to crop for many years, so creating the perfect bed prior to planting is key. Dig a well-drained bed of soil mixing in lots of compost. Asparagus crowns are available for planting in early spring.
Silverbeet can’t be beaten for an easy year-round supply of healthy greens. It grows well in cool conditions and likes plenty of moisture.
Slugs and snails are out in force in damp weather. Tender young seedlings are prime targets. Be ready with slug bait, or whatever protection you prefer.
Build the soil. Great growth comes from great soil. Improve soil structure by replenishing its organic matter every spring. Bulky organic fertilisers provide both nutrients and humus. When preparing for planting, avoid digging when the soil is heavy and wet. Too much digging destroys the soil structure.
Plant flowers for beneficial insects. Look for herbs and flowers that attract pollinators as well as the predatory insects that will help keep pest populations in check.
Start a compost heap and turn your household and garden waste into black gold for the garden. Compost is the ultimate soil conditioner, enhancing drainage and water holding capacity while empowering plant roots to absorb nutrients. Making your own compost is the most cost effective thing you can do for a healthy thriving vege garden.
Go undercover. A tunnel frame is handy when protecting plants from cold and frost. It’s also great for organic pest control. Consider covering your brassicas with insect mesh before the white butterflies appear with warmer weather. Insect mesh is also proving very effective against the tomato and potato pysllid.
LEFT: A timber slat bin keeps the compost heap tidy, accessible and well-aerated.BELOW: Insect mesh is a useful investment if you want to control insect pests without spraying.