Here are a few things to make sure are on your to do list for this month.
1. Seed saving
Time to get out the glass jars and start to save some seeds for next season. Some great seeds to save are:
- marigolds - each petal comes a seed for next season. Pluck off the dead flowers.
- spread tomato seeds on paper towel and allow to dry before storing. When you come to plant, cut the paper towel in squares, and plant. It will decompose in the ground.
- scoop out pumpkin and spaghetti squash seeds and allow to dry on a tea towel before scraping off and storing.
- tie small gift bags over basil flowers before they open to catch basil seeds.
- nasturtiums - these seeds are slightly bigger than a pea. Store in a paper bag until they dry out completely and then a glass jar
Do not place the lids on your glass jars until you are certain the seeds have dried completely.
2. Harvest summer crops before the first frost
ANZAC Day is known as last day it is safe to have your summer crops in the garden. This because looking back over decades, it is after this date the temperature significantly drops and the frosts can roll in. After all the winter solstice is only 8 weeks away.
Summer crops can be killed and burnt by frosts and so make sure you have all your crops harvested by the 25th. This does not include lettuce (unless it's iceberg or a similar summer variety), rocket, peas, brassicas, root vegetables or perennial herbs. They plants will be fine in the cooler months.
3. Harden off pumpkins and spaghetti squash
When you pumpkin vine starts to die back this is telling you it is getting close to harvest. Once dead cut off the vine leaving a stalk of about 5cm. Place in the sun and rotate every day for a week. This hardens the skin so that you can store it in a dark cool place. If it is your intention to eat it straight away then do not bother.
4. Succession plant root vegetables and brassicas
Succession planting is the process of planting a few seeds every couple of weeks to ensure that you have a continuous crop.
I would recommend succession planting carrots, beetroot, turnips, swedes, radishes, lettuce, rocket and peas. Do this by planting them now, and then again in 3 weeks, and another 3 weeks after that. This will take you till June after which anything planted will not be ready to harvest until spring because it will be too cold to grow significantly.
5. Plant celery & deter cabbage moths and butterflies
This crop loves the cooler months and grows really well from seed. Harvest it stalk by stalk and add it to your soups, stocks and casseroles all winter long. Come September it will start to go to seed. You can leave it to do this and you will have celery self seeding next year. This does not effect the taste of the celery (unlike other vegetables if allowed to flower). In autumn and winter, celery deters cabbage moths. Plant leeks, tomatoes and beans along side it when spring comes.