Newspaper article The Chronicle (Toowoomba, Australia)

Vegetable Gardens Spring into Life

Newspaper article The Chronicle (Toowoomba, Australia)

Vegetable Gardens Spring into Life

Article excerpt

IN THE vegetable garden, spring is easily the busiest time of the year.

There's lots of preparation to do before the main growing season, from digging over the soil, adding amendments like compost or manure and sowing seeds.

It's also the most exciting time to be out in the vegie patch, as lots of new season crops can start going into the ground.

Root vegetables

In my cool temperate garden, roots are the first cab off the rank due to their resistance to late frosts, and their willingness to germinate, and grow in cool soil. I sow all of them from seed into well prepared ground directly where they are to grow.

Beetroot is a favourite.

I soak the corky seed cluster overnight in a weak seaweed solution, then sow into rich soil that has been improved with the addition of rotted manure and a couple of handfuls of lime.

Heirloom varieties like Bull's Blood, Burpee's Golden and Chioggia are my preferred varieties.

Carrots can also go in now, and be grown on through spring.

Again, I sow directly, but this time I plant into ground that has previously grown a brassica crop, and I hold off on the addition of manure, as too much nitrogen makes carrots "fork" or bifurcate, to use a technical term.

Another little trick I've picked up to aid in even germination is to cover the carrot bed with shade cloth or hessian until the seedlings appear in around two to three weeks.

Peas

Peas are a staple food in our family, so this year I'm hoping to double last year's yield by giving them more space in the garden. I prefer traditional shelling varieties like Purple Podded and Telephone.

These are quite vigorous climbers and will need a support to grow on, but they produce heavier crops over a longer season that the "pod and all" varieties like Sugarsnap.

Peas are easy to sow direct into the garden.

As with beetroot, it's a good idea to soak the seed in a weak seaweed solution, then sow into ground that has had some rotted compost and lime added.

Place two or three seeds into each hole, cover with soil, and water deeply.

Then hold off on watering again until the seedlings appear, usually about a week later. …

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