With some rain finally falling across SA, get out into the garden this weekend to tend to the veggie patch and set yourself up for some winter and spring colour.
Bulbs, natives and radishes
Bury some bulbs
It’s an exciting time of year for bulb enthusiasts, with catalogues out now showing new releases. We’re spoilt here in South Australia with six major bulb companies, so there are always interesting choices. As well as the old favourites, each year brings a handful of new varieties, including bluebells, freesias, daffodils and tulips. Though they might cost a little more, it’s worth buying a couple as a special feature in the garden or a fun new project. Treat the new ones with respect as they may not be as hardy as older varieties. Bulbs will thrive in pots or in the ground planted after rains in late autumn.
After the season’s first rain, now is optimal for planting natives as temperatures are still warm and soil is moist. Not all indigenous natives will thrive in every garden, so choose depending on your soil type for best results. Nurseries have an extensive range of new and interesting natives so pick the freshest and strongest on offer. To survive through winter, they’ll need to be planted correctly. Dig a hole twice the size of the root ball with damp soil and be sure to back fill and press around the plant to better retain moisture. Water-in the new plants with a good soak. Tree guards are useful to protect against pests until winter. Keep a handle on weeds and maintain mulch to minimise watering.
Plant those radishes
An easy and quick plant to grow and are even commonly used to test soil health. Salad radishes are versatile plant and with their fresh peppery taste, there are many varieties for salads, including the adventurous Daikon variety.
How to grow: If planted from seed – which is an easy option – drill the soil with rows approximately half an inch apart. When the seedlings germinate, cull the weak growth so the strong can flourish. To make the most of the radish, sow seeds every few weeks and after harvest, and they’ll grow well year-round.
When to harvest: These little red bulbs will be ready to harvest six to eight weeks after planting. Either pull one out to trial for size, or bandicoot around by feeling the tops of the bulb at the soil’s surface.
Do you have problem plants? Horticultural horrors? If your garden is getting you down, Michael Keelan is here to help. Send your quandaries, predicaments and dilemmas, with photos of the problem, to firstname.lastname@example.org and check the next issue of SALIFE Gardens & Outdoor Living to see your prayers answered.