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Canberra Today 17°/20° | Thursday, January 20, 2022 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Start the seeds for autumn planting

Never mind summer, it’s time to start seeds for autumn herb and vegetables, says gardening writer JACKIE WARBURTON. 

NOW we’re in the heat of summer, it’s time to think about starting seeds for autumn planting. 

Jackie Warburton.

Autumn can be a pleasant time to grow many herbs and vegetables as the sun is not so hot and the choice is endless. 

Sow carrots as they are quick growing and can be on the table in as little as 4-5 weeks. Brassicas (the cabbage family) can look to be planted where the legume and nitrogen-fixing plants have been planted in the summer. 

Cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli are good reliable winter crops to grow in Canberra and start from seed in punnets. Use a seed-raising mix with no fertiliser, the seed will have all it needs to germinate. All you need to do is water and provide temperature. 

Fertiliser and nutrients are required to get the seedlings going once the second set of leaves are out. Thinning out seedlings is important for ventilation and the prevention of rot. 

AS we are well into the fire season and following a few months of rain, good weed growth could spell disaster for bushfires again this summer. 

If you live in a fire-prone area, then plant choices are important. Plants that have low sap or resin are useful. So, too, choosing plants that retain moisture, such as succulents and exotic shrubs, planted close to the house. 

Make sure tree branches aren’t overhanging the house and bulk dry litter is removed from the garden. When designing a garden in a fire-prone area, try to incorporate gravel paths and stone walls that also can act as a functional firebreak if needed. 

GARDENS survive the summer heat better with long soakings, twice a week, to get moisture to the soil profile where the roots of the plants grow. 

Bursts of water to the topsoil a few times a week with a hose is not a good, long-term solution to watering efficiently. Planting weather-appropriate plants in the garden helps reduce water consumption as well. 

FOR a bit of indoor colour, a vase of flowers can be easily put together with a few different flower colours and foliage from the garden. 

Simple rules to help design a lovely display are: Balance, Scale, Texture. I am hooked on my “Friday Flowers” at the moment and have two cupboards full of vases, but still can’t find the one I want to use. 

There is a lot of talent in flower arranging and it is a true art. There are local horticultural shows that have wonderful examples of floral displays and are worth looking at to learn more.

“The Well Gardened Mind”… perfect for anyone who has suffered a disruptive year.

I’M reading and enjoying a couple of great books at the moment.

In “The Well Gardened Mind”, author Sue Stuart-Smith delicately explains how working with nature can radically transform our health, wellbeing and confidence. 

This is perfect for anyone who has suffered a disruptive year in their lives and explains how gardening is good for the soul. 

My second book, “Dry Gardening Australia – Sustaining drought-proof gardening from the soil up”, is just that.

Author Jonathan Garner writes about the soils and getting that right and this sings my tune: “If you have good soils, you have good plants”. 

This book’s an oldie but a goodie, and the author has just won the Golden Wattle Award from the Australian Institute of Horticulture this year. This is a big deal. His books and blogs are well worth a read.

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Thank you,

Ian Meikle, editor

Jackie Warburton

Jackie Warburton

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