March brings the feeling of excitement and promise as we anticipate the joy of growing our own food as the cooler months approach. The preparation we put in now will bring great results when the time comes for a fresh and healthy harvest.
Get your garden ready:
It’s time to prepare your garden beds for the April planting season. To grow healthy, productive plants we need healthy, productive soil. Rejuvenating vegetable beds will add a host of nutrients and activity back to the soil to give your vegetable crops a great start.
Here are some ways you can rejuvenate your garden beds ready for planting:
- Grow a green manure crop! This is a simple way of refreshing your soil, and is specifically grown to dig back into the garden and add nutrients back into your soils. There are many green manure seeds around, but a simple pack of bird seed is all you need. Lightly break up the soil, and sprinkle a generous amount of seed over your garden bed. Rake over the seeds to lightly cover with soil. After about 6 weeks, and before they go to seed, the plants will be ready to cut down and dig into the soil.
- Top tip – ensure the green manure crop is cut down and dug into the soil before the crop goes to seed, otherwise it will start using nutrients from the soil rather than adding them.
- Add a layer of mulch. Hay is great when thick biscuits are placed on top of the soil. Add some fertiliser such as Organic Xtra to aid the decomposition process and add nutrients to your soil.
If your garden bed is in need of a full recharge, Elle has some great tips for getting your garden refreshed and ready for planting time in April.
Video: Preparing your Garden Bed with Elle
- Sow vegetable seeds now so they’ll be ready for planting next month. While they’ll need to be sun hardened, bring them under shelter during heavy downpours to avoid damage to their delicate foliage.
- Vegetables and Herbs:
- Tomatoes, Basil, Asian Greens, Eggplant, Capsicum, Leek, Spring Onion, Cucumber, Zucchini can all be sown in seedling trays. Be sure to use a good seed raising mix.
- Sweet Corn and Pumpkin are best sown in their final growing space in your garden.
Video: Sowing your Tomato seeds
February in the garden:
- Rejuvenate mint plants but planting new cuttings, or re-planting in fresh potting mix. Keep in semi shade during the hotter months.
- Garlic chive clumps can be divided and planted in the garden or into pots. Garlic chives are a hardy, year round grower that make a great substitute for onion chives.
- Fertilise citrus trees with Organic Xtra or Fruit and Citrus food. Many varieties such as Lemons, Limes and Grapefruits are beginning to ripen.
- Thin out banana suckers. Remove any stems that have already fruited, allowing one advanced and one new sucker to grow in its place.
- If your mulberry has finished fruiting, prune it back to stimulate new growth and fruiting. Trim it back to a harvestable height, and fruit will be produced on the new growth.
- Continue to harvest Eggplants and Chillis in the warm humid weather. There are many great recipes to enjoy.
- Prune back Crepe myrtles once flowering is finished. They can be cut back to half their height to keep them compact.
- Prune back vines to keep under control.
- Embrace the benefits of the season and pull weeds while the ground is soft and moist. They’ll put up far less resistance to your efforts and the job can be done in half the time! Removing them before they go to seed will also reduce the weed seed bank in your garden.
Wildlife in the garden:
- February still brings some heavy rains. Provide shelter for fauna with handmade Habitat boxes, or consider building a Frog Hotel feature so you can observe these fascinating creatures in your own garden. See how you can create your own Frog Hotel feature.
- The Cairns Birdwing Butterfly is among our gardens searching for the native Aristolochia tagala on which to lay her eggs. Aristolochia tagala is the only plant the Birdwing Butterfly caterpillars will eat before pupating nearby. February is a great time to establish a vine as the warm temperatures drive plenty of fresh new growth for the caterpillars to eat. CHeck out this amazing footage we captured this week at Limberlost.
- Captivating Creatures at Limberlost