Spring is a busy period for any gardener, whether you’re tending a veggie patch in the backyard or a small space garden in the sunlit corners of your house.
It’s also a glorious time in the garden at Cana Farm, an oasis offering opportunities to marginalised people in western Sydney and supported by the Coca-Cola Australia Foundation. Here Cana Farm’s horticulture students tell us how to get your garden to grow in Spring.
The first ingredient of a successful garden is good soil. Mix in 2 kilograms of compost or aged manure per square metre of soil, and wait a few weeks before planting. Feed hungry lawns with slow release fertiliser after rain.
As the soil warms up after winter, new growth gets underway. It isn’t just your well-tended plants that begin growing again; weeds start sprouting up too. This means that weeding is an important springtime job to give new growth the best chances of thriving. You can weed by hand, or (safely) use herbicides to keep unwelcome plants out of your garden.
Nothing does more for the cause of weed prevention than an afternoon spent weeding your garden which means mulching, an effective method of thwarting weed growth and saving water. Add a 5 to 7cm layer of straw, hay or bark mulch to your garden beds and pots. Allow space around the stem of seedlings to let them grow.
Choose Your Colours and Flavours
Now you’re ready to get planting. Clear away tired old plants to make room for new crops. Add some colour; plant flowering annuals like petunias and marigolds, or a common favourite: pansies. To keep your flowers in bloom, cut off dead flower heads.
Plant summer salad veggies like rocket, snowpeas and lettuce. Wait until the last frost before you plant crops that do well in hot conditions, like tomatoes, capsicums and eggplants.
Sunflowers are the perfect springtime flower. A favourite among kids and adults alike, sunflowers are easy to grow. This captivating annual needs fertile, well-drained soil and a sunny position. Feed your sunflower with liquid fertilizer every couple of weeks to send it skywards.
Bolting is when a plant prematurely produces flowers, diverting energy away from growing edible leaves. Postpone bolting in your plants by keeping your veggies adequately watered and mulched. If your vegetables do go to seed, don’t despair. Pick the flowers of vegetables like kale for salads, or try to harvest the seeds to plant again.
Revive Tired Plants
This is the best time of year to repot your indoor plants. Choose slightly larger pots, trimming the roots before replanting into fresh potting mix. Water the plant in its new pot well, and add more potting mix if needed. Keep the plant’s soil moist but not saturated – yellow leaves indicate over-watering. Wait a month before fertilizing a newly potted plant, as the fertilser can burn the freshly trimmed roots.
Share the Wealth
If your veggie garden grows more produce than your household can eat, give away the excess to lucky friends and neighbours. At Cana Farm nothing goes to waste, said horticulture student and young mum Nicole.
"All the vegetables get used for lunches for the students and made into meals for residents.”
They say sharing is caring – and this is the best time of year for it.