As we all rediscover our green thumbs, make use of the recent rains by planting out some of nature's best gifts in the veggie garden.
In the garden: Plant some garlic, broad beans and asparagus
One of the most beneficial plants in the world, garlic is closely related to onions, shallots and leeks, and has been grown for its health properties since the earliest of civilisations. It’s also not too difficult to grow. Always choose the healthiest, firmest, plumpest cloves to plant out, as these go on to produce excellent crops of garlic. Garlic is best grown in a sunny position with well-drained soil — sandier soils are perfect. It can be planted from early autumn and will be ready for picking late spring through summer. There are different varieties that are suitable for the home garden so check them out at your local nursery. Garlic will also grow successfully in large containers. Regular feeding with organic fertiliser is ok, but don’t over-water in winter.
Broad beans, or fava beans, are one of nature’s super-foods that have been the foundation of ancient civilizations and are still a staple food in many Middle Eastern countries. There are two popular varieties that we grow successfully in South Australia: “Early long pod” and “Coles Dwarf”. Broad beans thrive in loamy, heavier soils and can be planted in autumn or late winter. The taller varieties can shoot up to two metres and will require firm support. The dwarf is the one that is preferred to grow, as it is more suited to the smaller backyard veggie garden. Belonging to the legume family, they don’t require fertiliser with large amounts of nitrogen, so organics are just perfect. When pods are formed they can be picked young or left to mature.
Asparagus is a long-lived perennial that will continue to produce for 20 to 25 years, all with little input from the gardener. Asparagus is best planted in autumn from crowns. It can be grown from seed, but the wait for a juicy crop could be many years. Plant crowns in rich, deep loamy soil. They will thrive best in a sunny, cold spot in the garden, as they love a little ground frost. Asparagus have separate male and female plants; the males produce thicker spears, while females will produce thinner spears and set red berries. Diggers have some called “Fat Bastard” and “Purple Bastard Pot” and after a few years they are both amazing producers of spears during the early spring period. Feed and mulch with organics for best results. Tip: Don’t harvest the first year, it’s worth the wait.
This article first appeared in the Autumn 2019 issue of SALIFE Gardens & Outdoor Living magazine.