Nov 272016
 

Life really start ramping up festive wise at this time of year, and things are certainly starting to bear fruit in your patch, its December! Hopefully you’ve already put in loads of produce plants but it’s not too late to get some more growing, especially if you’ve had the pleasure of already harvesting some plants.  Keep up the good work in the garden –  despite the rising heat there’s still plenty to do this month in your patch.

And if you’re heading off on a trip this break, read our tips on preventing “holiday-itis” in the garden.  It’s an all too common occurrence that can turn the most beautiful backyard into a garden grave in a matter of weeks! Give your garden the gift of a bit of your time this December… you’ll be so pleased you did!

Warm Areas

Frost free or occasional light frosts (North from about Coffs Harbour and all the way across to the west to Geraldton)

  • It’s pretty warm, and fairly humid this month, but there are a few things you could still pop into the patch. You can put in some capsicum, chilli, eggplant, carrots, lettuce, tomatoes and zucchini.
  • Too hot for most herbs, but you could try some lemongrass.
  • Still time to pop in some asparagus… just find a cooler spot in the patch.
  • It’s not too late for watermelon, bananas, mangos and passionfruit. Try a Bromaliaceae that fruits as well, sound crazy? Pop in a pineapple and see… perfect for summer Daiquiris!
  • Plants feel the need for a feed at this time of year. A seaweed tea or low environmental impact liquid fertiliser is perfect, especially for the seedlings put in during November. They are probably in need of a bit of a feed by now. Apply to the soil early in the morning, and in the concentrations mentioned on the packet.
  • Try some companion plants as well as these pretties: marigolds, cosmos, sunflowers and ageratum. Popping these in around your veggies will give some colour and interest to the patch, and act as beneficial insect attractors!
  • Consider a green manure crop to add some life and love to an overworked patch. At this time of year, try millet, lablab, or cow pea. This will improve your soil incredibly and for a bit of forward planning, you’ll find it well worth the effort! You just have to have a bit of forethought to what you want to plant in that space come the time to ‘dig over.’
  • Top up mulch on your veggie patches, herb gardens and ornamental beds, especially important if you are heading off this holidays. A hot summer tip is to mulch after watering the patch, to a depth of about 7cm. Keep mulch clear of plant stems. Especially young seedlings. Choose a sustainable, low environmental impact mulch, one that will enrich your soil as it breaks down.
  • On non-gardening days head out to the shed and construct a couple of shade cloth tents. They don’t have to elaborate, just a simple, moveable structure that you can pop over the top of some of the sun sensitive veggies (like eggplant, capsicum and others) as the heat becomes more intense. Think of it as slip, slop, slap for plants! Pop these around where required, especially on high UV days, windy days, and during your holidays.
  • Going away?  Consider installing a drip irrigation system in your patch before you leave.  These systems deliver water where it is needed, the roots, and when covered by mulch, are invisible garden lifesavers! Install on a tap timer and you’re set! Make sure you choose one appropriate to the needs of your plants; they come with a variety of ‘drips per minute.’
  • Weeding is an awesome job to do at this time of year. Cut down the competition between your produce plants and the weeds and tidy up your patch. It may sound tedious, but it’s incredibly rewarding! Weeds use nutrients that you have set aside specifically for your produce plants, don’t let it leach away!
  • Protect your pot plants while you are away this summer. A small volume of low environmental impact water crystals applied to each pot will help keep the plants watered. Mulch the top of the pots, sit them in a saucer of water (or the bathtub if it gets enough light) and you’ll be set!
  • Give the gift that keeps on giving. A productive pot plant! There are potted plants to suit every back pocket, and some awesome selections include chillies, cherry tomatoes, citrus, olives or a mixed herb pot. Get creative… and get giving!

Cool to Cold Areas

Low temperatures for extended periods of time (all of Tasmania, most of Victoria, the southern highlands of NSW, the ACT and a tiny southern bit of SA)

  • It’s a great time of year in the garden in this part of the world, and it’s not too late to pop these into the herb patch: dill, basil, chives, parsley, rosemary, pyrethrum, sage and thyme. Pop some mint into a couple of pots – good to grow now but it can take over if planted in the patch!
  • Add some of these highly productive plants to your patch this month; carrots, cucumber, eggplants, lettuce, french beans, leeks, pumpkins, silverbeet, squash, sweet corn and zucchini.
  • It doesn’t all have to be all edible, flowering plants assist to attract insects for pollination as well as making the area look  great.  Plant out some of these; celosia, petunias, snapdragons, phlox, marigolds, verbena and ageratum.
  • Top up mulch on your veggie patches, herb gardens and ornamental beds, especially important if you are heading off this holidays. A hot summer tip is to mulch after watering the patch, to a depth of about 7cm. Keep mulch clear of plant stems. Especially young seedlings. Choose a sustainable, low environmental impact mulch, one that will enrich your soil as it breaks down.
  • Green manure crops, including soy bean, wheat, millet and mung beans are good to go now. Improve that veggie patch that may be a bit nutrient deficient. Doing this will ensure that you are ready for the next seasons heavy feeding plants.
  • Plants feel the need for a feed at this time of year. A seaweed tea or low environmental impact liquid fertiliser is perfect, especially for the seedlings planted in during November. They are probably in need of a bit of a feed by now. Apply to the soil early in the morning, and in the concentrations mentioned on the packet.
  • On non-gardening days head out to the shed and construct a couple of shade cloth tents. They don’t have to elaborate, just a simple, moveable structure that you can pop over the top of some of the sun sensitive veggies (like eggplant, capsicum and others) as the heat becomes more intense. Think of it as slip, slop, slap for plants! Pop these around where required, especially on high UV days, windy days, and during your holidays.
  • Going away?  Consider installing a drip irrigation system in your patch before you leave.  These systems deliver water where it is needed, the roots, and when covered by mulch, are invisible garden lifesavers! Install on a tap timer and you’re set! Make sure you choose one appropriate to the needs of your plants; they come with a variety of ‘drips per minute.’
  • Weeding is an awesome job to do at this time of year. Cut down the competition between your tasty treats and these space invaders and tidy up your patch. It may sound tedious, but it’s incredibly rewarding! Weeds use nutrients that you have set aside specifically for your produce plants, don’t let it leach away!
  • Protect your pot plants while you are away this summer. A small volume of low environmental impact water crystals applied to each pot will help keep the plants watered. Mulch the top of the pots, sit them in a saucer of water (or the bathtub if it gets enough light) and you’ll be set!
  • Give the gift that keeps on giving. A productive pot plant! There are potted plants to suit every back pocket, and some awesome selections include chillies, cherry tomatoes, citrus, olives or a mixed herb pot. Get creative… and get giving!

Temperate Zones

Occasional winter frosts (pretty much the rest of Australia, most of the inland, some areas of Victoria, most of SA and the southern area of WA)

  • It is pretty warm, so if you are heading away for a while, it’s probably best to avoid planting at this stage. If you are hanging around at home, why not try some of these favourites; silverbeet, lettuce, leek, beans, corn, squash (summer), leek, eggplants, beetroot, carrots, chilli, cucumber, pumpkin and zucchini.
  • For some super herbs in the temperate areas, try basil (both sweet and purple), parsley, pyrethrum and lemongrass. Mint can be planted now but you might want to keep it in a nice sized pot, just to prevent serious mint invasion!
  • Why not try some lovely flowering stuff in your patch as well.  Nasturtium, verbena, petunias, marigolds, phlox and celosia are great at attracting pollinators and beneficial insects to your patch. They add a touch of pretty to your patch too.
  • Consider a green manure crop to add some life and love to an overworked patch. At this time of year, try cow pea, mung bean, soy bean and millet. This will improve your soil incredibly, and return some nutrients that are needed for healthy vigorous growth. With a bit of forward planning you’ll find it well worth the effort!
  • Plants feel the need for a feed at this time of year. A seaweed tea or low environmental impact liquid fertiliser is perfect, especially for the seedlings planted in during November. They’ll be ready for a bit of a feed by now. Apply to the soil early in the morning, and in the concentrations mentioned on the packet.
  • Top up mulch on your veggie patches, herb gardens and ornamental beds, especially important if you are heading off this holidays. A hot summer tip is to mulch after watering the patch; to a depth of about 7cm. Keep mulch clear of plant stems, especially young seedlings. Choose sustainable, low environmental impact mulch, one that will enrich your soil as it breaks down like pea or lucerne straw.
  • On non-gardening days, why not head out to the shed, and construct a couple of shade cloth tents. They don’t have to elaborate, just a simple, moveable structure that you can pop over the top of some of the sun sensitive veggies (like eggplant, capsicum and others) as the heat becomes more intense. Think of it as slip, slop, slap for plants! Pop these around where required, especially on high UV days, windy days, and during your holidays.
  • Going away?  Consider installing a drip irrigation system in your patch before you leave.  These systems deliver water where it is needed, the roots, and when covered by mulch, are invisible garden lifesavers! Install on a tap timer and you’re set! Make sure you choose one appropriate to the needs of your plants; they come with a variety of ‘drips per minute.’
  • Weeding is an awesome job to do at this time of year. Cut down the competition between your tasty treats and these space invaders and tidy up your patch. It may sound tedious, but it’s incredibly rewarding! Weeds use nutrients that you have set aside specifically for your produce plants, don’t let it leach away!
  • Protect your pot plants while you are away this summer. A small volume of low environmental impact water crystals applied to each pot will help keep the plants watered. Mulch the top of the pots, sit them in a saucer of water, or the bathtub if it gets enough light, and you’ll be set!
  • Give the gift that keeps on giving. A productive pot plant! There are potted plants to suit every back pocket, and some awesome selections include chillies, cherry tomatoes, citrus, olives or a mixed herb pot. Get creative… and get giving!

Of course, this is just a rough guide, many of you will find your situation varies from the above listing, due to microclimates created in your garden, location in relation to your nearest major city, extremes of weather and garden type.

But the one thing that remains the same for all zones and regions is this: the festive season is better outdoors! So, grab a cool beverage, slip, slop slap, and spend some time under your favourite tree, admiring your patch!

The SGA team would like to wish all of our readers (and their gardens) a safe and happy  holiday season… see you back here next year!

Information sources: Bagnall, Lyn, Easy organic gardening and moon planting, published by Scribe Publications, VIC. McFarlane, Annette, Organic Vegetable Gardening, published by ABC Books, Sydney, NSW.

Photos:  Joanne Bate, Elaine Shallue, Mary Trigger

  2 Responses to “December In Your Patch”

  1. Somewhere on your wonderful site I noticed you recommend planting ageratum though now I can’t find it. Ageratum becomes a tenacious weed in South East Queensland, yet I’ve seen punnets of it for sale here too. It is pretty but not when taking up space wherever its seeds have blown 🙂

    • Thank you very much for drawing attention to the weediness of some species of Ageratum. They are Ageratum conyzoides (Billy Goat Weed) and Ageratum houstonianum (Blue Billy Goat Weed) which have escaped from gardens and are now a problem in the tropics and subtropics. This is just the sort of feedback we appreciate.

      You are right that they are sold as garden plants and shouldn’t be in the north. These species are not a problem southern regions. There are around 50 species of Ageratum, so to be safe, check on the species before buying.

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