QUICK SMART VE­G­IES

Mercury (Hobart) - Magazine - - GROWYOUROWN -

Friends Lynne and Colin are thrilled with their new raised vegie beds but are con­cerned that Tassie’s short grow­ing sea­son has put the brakes on plant­ing sum­mer crops. Rather than head straight into plant­ing au­tumn and win­ter crops, what could they plant now to grow and har­vest be­fore au­tumn?

The good news for Lynne, Colin and ev­ery­one else con­tem­plat­ing a bare spot in the veg­etable gar­den is there are sum­mer ve­g­ies that will flour­ish be­fore the cold weather and short days re­turn.

Raised vegie beds pro­vide ideal grow­ing con­di­tions for a huge range of veg­eta­bles and also make it pos­si­ble to grow veg­eta­bles in the small­est of spa­ces. They are usu­ally easy to cover to pro­tect from pests in­clud­ing pos­sums and birds. Filled with a bagged pot­ting mix they are also weed free.

To get a fast crop now, select small, fast­grow­ing veg­eta­bles. To fur­ther speed up the cy­cle buy seedlings or ad­vanced plants of veg­eta­bles that pro­vide a har­vest in around eight weeks or that are tol­er­ant of cold con­di­tions.

Re­li­able se­lec­tions to plant in mid sum­mer for a quick har­vest be­fore the cold weather re­turns in­clude dwarf bean, baby car­rot, radish, spring onion, snow peas and cut and come again let­tuce va­ri­eties such as mignonette. Silverbeet and turnip will be able to be har­vested in around eight weeks and con­tinue to grow into au­tumn.

To har­vest toma­toes from a mid­sum­mer plant­ing plant ad­vanced seedling of cherry va­ri­eties, which may be able to fruit be­fore the fruit frost wipes out plants.

Shel­ter af­ter plant­ing

Plant se­lec­tion is the first part of the plan. Care­ful plant­ing and good care is vi­tal to reap a har­vest. Seedlings are vulnerable to wilt­ing and wa­ter stress so plant them in the cool of the day such as evening or early morn­ing. If the seedlings look dry at plant­ing, soak them first and then plant them into moist soil. Af­ter plant­ing, wa­ter them in well. Add a sea­weed con­cen­trate to the wa­ter at plant­ing to help the seedlings to es­tab­lish.

Veg­eta­bles grow best with full sun but ful­lon hot sum­mer sun can kill young seedlings be­fore they get a chance to grow.

This is be­cause their small roots can­not take up enough mois­ture to com­bat what’s been lost through tran­spi­ra­tion (the plant equiv­a­lent of sweat­ing) in full sun so they need pro­tec­tion. Shade new plant­ings with a tem­po­rary cover of shade­cloth or even use old sheets spread over stakes or hoops to block out the hottest sun.

The end re­sult may look messy and un­tidy but it can make the dif­fer­ence be­tween suc­cess and fail­ure and doesn’t have to be per­ma­nent.

A neater al­ter­na­tive is to poke leafy prun­ings in among the newly planted seedlings to cast the much-needed shade. Use tough growth from ev­er­green hedges such as conifers or pit­tospo­rum. Late crops grown in pots can be pro­tected by be­ing phys­i­cally moved into a shady or shel­tered spot.

On­go­ing care

Seedlings usu­ally take a few days to re­cover af­ter plant­ing. Once the seedlings are es­tab­lished or the hot sunny days abate, re­move the tem­po­rary shade.

Even when the young veg­eta­bles are be­gin­ning to grow, do not cut back on wa­ter­ing while sum­mer days re­main hot and sunny. To keep the plants stress-free, wa­ter them in the morn­ing and evening.

To fuel their growth, ap­ply a liq­uid fer­tiliser for­mu­lated for veg­eta­bles ev­ery seven to 10 days to en­cour­age strong growth. Keep the plants free of weeds as they com­pete for nu­tri­ents and wa­ter rob­bing the veg­eta­bles of what they need. The eas­i­est way to do this is gen­tle hoe­ing or hand weed­ing with­out dis­turb­ing the roots of the young veg­eta­bles.

Plant let­tuce now for a quick sum­mer crop. Pic­ture: JEN­NIFER STACK­HOUSE.

English laven­der. Pic­ture: JEN­NIFER STACK­HOUSE.

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