Heirloom-inating Spring

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Dave Kastner

Spring is now in full swing and with the longer days comes the welcome warmer weather, which means that now is prime time for gardening. Time to get outside, pull out the weeds that grew over winter, mow the lawns and sow seeds from an almost endless list of fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers. Heirloom seeds are the best to plant for several reasons. They have been cultivated for generations, passed down from family to family, and they are not commercially available so you can grow varieties you would never see in shops. They are not genetically modified and are often resistant to local pests, diseases and extreme weather due to their genetics, as they have adapted over time to the climate and soil.

Speaking of soil, do you compost? If you do now is a really good time to dig some into your garden beds to increase the nutrient levels in your soil before planting. If you don’t compost, here are some tips to help you get started:

  1. Find a shady spot in your garden
  2. Get a compost bin or make a small enclosure.
  3. DO Layer food scraps (egg shells, fruit and veggie peelings, tea bags and used coffee grounds), garden/lawn clippings and paper/cardboard.
  4. DON’T put in plastic, pet droppings or meat scraps (meat will attract rats)
  5. Keep it moist but not too wet.
  6. Aerate it once a week. After about 4 months or so the bottom layer will start to turn dark and crumbly and that is the stuff you want to dig into your soil.

Your plants will thrive and love you for providing them with this nutrient rich natural fertiliser and you will also be saving that waste from being dumped in landfill. Now that your soil is ready, it is time to plant. The list of fruits, vegetables and herbs that can be planted at this time of the year is massive and includes basil, beans, beetroot, brussel sprouts, cabbage, capsicum, carrots, celery, chillies, chives, coriander, cucumber, dill, eggplant, lemongrass, lettuce, parsley, potatoes, pumpkin, radish, squash, tomatoes and zucchini. The Little Veggie Patch Co on Brighton Road, St. Kilda East, sells a large selection of heirloom herb and vegetable seeds, including a special Spring Seed Pack for $15.

If you are after a flower garden instead of, or as well as, a kitchen garden then October is a great month to plant a variety of flowering annuals such as Alyssum, Bedding Begonias, Celosia, Dahlia, Helichrysum, Fox Glove, Lobelia, Marigold, Portulaca, Salvia and Zinnia. Marigolds are particularly awesome, although they are considered noxious weeds in some areas. Originally from North and South America, they have naturalised in Australia and can bring many benefits to gardens as they attract ladybugs, which feed on annoying aphids, mealybugs and mites. Marigolds also provide a nectar source for butterflies. Heirloom Marigold seeds can also be purchased at The Little Veggie Patch Co. Have fun getting your hands dirty and don’t forget to aerate your compost!

 

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