No store-bought tomato will beat home grown and freshly picked ones from your garden. And who doesn’t enjoy the fruits of their efforts. Tomato plants are a good addition to any vegetable garden, especially because most of us use them every day. If you are looking to grow tomatoes in your garden, black cherry tomatoes might be what you need. Their ease of growth and productivity are traits that any gardener will appreciate.

Description/Taste

The colour of a Black cherry tomato is an indicator of the fruit’s stage of maturity. At its first sign of ripeness, the tomato will have a signature mahogany-brown colouring with green shoulders, and it will be firm to the touch, with a blend of sweet and tart flavours. As it ripens, the green deepens to brown, the flesh becomes slightly tender, and the flavour grows. At the peak of their maturity, Black cherry tomatoes are low in acidity, and they develop a smoky and sweet flavour. The Black cherry tomato plant produces large clusters of the 2.5cm round tomatoes on vigorous, tall, indeterminate plants that are easy to grow, as they are disease resistant and can be grown in the greenhouse or outdoors in a sunny spot.

Black Cherry tomato uses

Black cherry tomatoes are preferred for eating fresh, on their own or in a salad, though they also lend themselves to being flash grilled or roasted. Black cherry tomatoes can easily replace common red tomatoes in pizza and salsa recipes, and they also work nicely in sauces and soups. They pair well with soft, young cheeses, such as chevre and burrata, as well as aged cheeses like pecorino and parmesan.

Other complimentary pairings include citrus, melons, eggplant, mushrooms, mild and hot chilies, poultry, pork, seafood, vinaigrettes, aged balsamic vinegar, herbs, such as basil and cilantro, and cream-based sauces, such as béchamel.

Like all varieties, store Black cherry tomatoes away from direct sunlight at room temperature until ripe and ready to use, after which refrigeration can slow the process of decay and prevent them from ripening further.

Nutritional Value

Cherry tomatoes contain lycopene, an antioxidant that can decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. They also contain vitamin A and vitamin C, making them a good snack for maintaining eye health and boosting your immune system. Other significant contents for supporting good health include fibre, iron, and vitamin B-6. Although they are small, the bite-size black cherry tomatoes are indeterminate plants.

Their size might be deceiving, so they need tall and sturdy cages to support them to maturity.

You can start growing black cherry tomato seedlings indoors or outdoors. But to be on the safe side, it is better to start them indoors. More so when the forecast shows a likelihood of frost. Allow the seedlings to germinate and grow for around  6 to 8 weeks as you wait for favourable weather. Then, transfer them outdoors after the last frost, once the temperature is reliable. A black cherry tomato plant will do best in temperatures between 13 and 35C

Once you are ready to transplant, find a spot with full sun as they can withstand the heat. For you to harvest fruits bursting with flavour, ensure they get 6 to 8 hours of sunlight each day in nutrient-rich soil.

The three primary nutrients your plants need are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Space your plants approximately 1 metre apart. When planting, pinch and remove the lower leaves to allow you to set about two-thirds of the plant underground.

Supporting your Black Cherry Tomato Vine

As mentioned before, the small size of the black cherry tomato fruit can be deceiving. Their plants grow to a height of 1.5 to 2.5 metres feet at maturity. For this reason, you need a proper support system to hold the vines up as they grow. The reasons for supporting your plant as it grows are:

Keeping plants and fruits off the ground, which prevents fruit rot or sunburn.

Making it easy to spray, dust, and care for them.

Ensuring the fruits get the full sun, helping them acquire a rich flavour.

Making harvesting easier as a supported plant is easier to navigate.

There are two common methods of supporting tomato plants as they grow – caging and staking.

Caging your Black Cherry Tomato

Caging is an easier option. With this type of support system, the cages are made from the wire used to reinforce concrete.

Black cherries tomatoes grow really tall so the cages will need to be at least 1.5 metres high. The good news is that you can buy cages from most gardening stores.

Caged plants should be set 1 metre apart and a cage placed over each.

For protection from wind and cold, use plastic wrap around the bottom of the cage. Approximately 0.5metres  inches from the ground will be enough to offer the required protection. Adding black plastic mulch to your tomato garden will offer additional protection and help them bloom early.

For caged tomatoes, prune them up to the fifth main fruiting branch. Pruning reduces competition between the vegetative and fruiting parts. Thus, it ensures you have bigger and better fruits earlier. As with most farming methods, caging has a downside – tomatoes don’t ripen as early as they do when staked. Still, caging prevents the majority of these delicious tomatoes from cracking or burning.

Staking your Black Cherry Tomato

 Staking calls for the use of wooden or metal stakes measuring between 2 metres in length. While you need wooden stakes about 2.5cm thick, you can use thinner metal stakes as they are stronger. If you decide to use wooden stakes, make sure the wood is not treated with chemicals.

Metal stakes are the best option (rebar rods are an excellent start) if you want a long-lasting solution.

Should you choose to stake your cherry tomato black plants, set them 60cm apart. Next to each plant and about 10cm from the base, drive a stake through the ground until it’s firm. Because they keep growing, you’ll need to regularly prune them to keep their growth in control. Otherwise, they will grow too bushy, weigh down the plant from the stakes, and produce less fruit.

Problems with growing Tomatoes

BLOSSOM-END ROT

Extreme moisture levels prevent plants from absorbing enough calcium from the soil. When this happens, fruits start rotting from the bottom up.

Other triggers of this condition include soil with high acidity or too much nitrogen. To prevent blossom end rot, test your soil pH and nitrogen levels. A simple preventative measure is to mulch your plant to help the soil retain enough moisture

FLOWER DROP

Flower drop occurs when blossoms fall off the plant without the fruits developing. Which is why this condition is also known as blossom drop. One of the biggest causes of blossom drop is a change in temperature.

When night temperatures go lower than 13 or higher than 30 C, plants lose their flowers.

Insects, water deprivation, lack of pollination, and lack of or too much nitrogen also cause blossom drop.

Obviously, you can’t change the weather. What you can do is strengthen your plant by adding fertilizer or organic pesticides such as neem oil. You can also plant milkweed and cosmos to draw pollinators.

Planting Guide

Method: Direct or Seedling Trays

Planting Depth: 5mm

Best Planting Season/s: AutumnFrost TenderSpringSummer

Germination: 5 to 10 days at 21-27ºC

Life Cycle: Annual

Row Spacing: 60-70cm

Plant Spacing: 50cm

Position: Full sun

Days to maturity/flowering: 80 days

Other: Plants need staking. Prune plants to two main stems. Keep well-watered. Pick when mature to encourage more fruit. To reduce the risk of disease do not water overhead. Rotate crops: do not plant in the same position two years in a row.

Happy Gardening

Chives

Large Chives

Chive

Chives are prized for the delightful onion or garlic flavour of their leaves, feature grass-like foliage topped with purple, pink or white blooms. Chives are a member of the onion family native to Europe, Asia and North America.  Chives are perennial herbs that are much easier to grow than traditional onions and garlic, with the added benefit of not taking as long between planting and harvest time. Chives are ideal plants for pots, make attractive grass-like plants in herb beds and can be used as to attracts bees and other pollinators at the same time it seems to repel other insects; it is sometimes planted among vegetables to discourage Japanese beetles and other damaging insects. Even those without a serious garden have probably tried growing chives at some point in their lives. It’s one of the most common garden herbs out there, probably because it’s so easy to grow. It’s a perennial, which means there’s no need to re-plant every year. Chives are about as low maintenance as you can get in the plant world. You can grow them indoors or outside, and they’re happy pretty much anywhere.

What Are Chives?

Chives are an herb that's related to onions and garlic with long green stems and a mild, not-too-pungent flavour. Typically used fresh, and most often (although not always) as a garnish, they add a bright colour and oniony flavour to soups, dressings, and dips, along with many eggs and potato-based dishes. They're easy to grow, easy to find, and easy to use.

Chives belong to the allium family, which makes them relatives of onions, leeks, scallions, and garlic. They have been used in Europe and Asia for hundreds of years but can be found around the world. Chives produce edible leaves and flowers; the green stem is long, pencil-like, and thin, with a centre that's hollow like a straw. They grow in dense hearty clumps, and typically are one of the first herbs to pop up in the garden in spring.

Chives do not require a lot of preparation since they are often used raw, fresh, and as a garnish. A little goes a long way, too—you don't typically need a lot to make a flavourful impact. They're widely available in grocery stores and therefore not expensive.

Growing Chives

Chives like plenty of sun, well-drained soil, and decent moisture. It's a good idea to dig in 4 to 6 inches of well-decomposed compost to the soil before planting. Because of their clump-forming habit, chives can become easily overcrowded, so dividing the clumps regularly will help to ensure growth remains vigorous.

In warm climates, they may remain evergreen year-round; in cold climates, they will die back to ground level each fall, returning as perennials in the spring. Chives are shallow-rooted plants; carefully consider what you grow around them and watch out for weeds springing up, as these can out-compete the chives if you aren't careful.

Gardeners growing chives as edible herbs may cut back the flowers to prevent the plants from going to seed. If you choose to enjoy the blooms (which are also edible), be aware that the plants will self-seed very freely, leaving you with many volunteers. This is not a seriously invasive plant, however.

Chives have no serious pest or disease problems, but root-rot can be an issue for clumps growing in dense, poorly drained soil. Chive Care

Light for Chives

Chives thrive in a full sun location Although they tolerate light shade, the flower display will be less impressive in shady locations.

Soil for Chives

To produce the best harvest, you'll want to plant chives in soil that is well-draining, rich. and moist—the same conditions under which onions thrive.

Water for Chives

Chives are a drought-tolerant species once established. That doesn't mean you should neglect to water them during hot, dry weather. To achieve an impressive harvest, make sure chives are kept consistently moist throughout the growing season. If you aren't always able to keep on top of watering duties, you could consider mulching. Because chives bulbs are located close to the surface of the soil, this can help to conserve soil moisture.

Temperature and Humidity For Chives

A cool-season herb, chives produce their best harvest in the spring and autumn. Extreme summer heat can sometimes result in chives going dormant during the middle of the summer. Extreme cold can also kill off the foliage, and this is why pot-grown chives are often overwintered indoors.

Fertilizer for chives

Chives don't need a lot of nutrients to survive, so frequent fertilization isn't necessary. But it's a good idea to give chives a single top-dressing with a nitrogen-heavy fertilizer in late spring or early summer. How to Grow Chives from Seed

Planting Chive seeds

Chive seeds sown outdoors in the spring usually germinate within a few weeks. Ideally, you want temperatures to be around18 to 24C. If early spring temperatures are cold, sowing them in a tray on a sunny windowsill is preferable, six to eight weeks before the last frost.

Make sure you sow them close to the surface and that they aren't spaced too close together. If you have germinated seedlings indoors to transplant outdoors, make sure you harden them off first with increasingly long visits outdoors over a period of about 10 days.

Planting Guide for Chives

Method                         Sow direct

Planting Depth             5mm

When                             Spring, summer and autumn

Germination                  7-14 days at 18-24°C

Life Cycle                       Hardy Perennial

Plant Spacing               15cm

Plant Height                 25cm

Position                        Full sun, moist well drained soil

Days Until Maturity     60-90 days

Propagating Chives

Chives are easy to propagate by division. Even if you don't need to make new plants, it's still recommended to divide clumps every few years. This improves the productiveness and health of the plants and prevents them from becoming overly congested.

Pruning Chives

If you don't want chives popping up all over your garden, it's a good idea to deadhead the flowers immediately after they have finished blooming. This will prevent the seeds from spreading.

Harvesting Chives

Chives are usually ready to harvest within a couple of months of seed germination, or about 30 days after nursery seedlings are planted. It's a good idea for aesthetics, and to encourage healthy regrowth, to cut the leaves right down to the base. You can harvest at any time but be aware that old growth can be tougher and not quite as flavoursome. New plants should be harvested four or five times in their first year. Mature plants should be harvested monthly.

Chives are best used fresh or when frozen immediately after picking. They lose their flavour if they are dried for storage. If you want to consume the flowers, pick them immediately after they have fully opened, as this is when they'll have the best taste.

Chive varieties

Garlic Chives: Perennial growing to 50cm. Plants grow in slowly spreading clumps with long green strap-like leaves with white star shaped flowers. Leaves have a mild flavour, somewhat like a cross between regular chives and garlic. Can be eaten raw or cooked, good in salads, sauces, stir-fries and with fish, poultry and egg dishes. Can be grown in containers. Also known as "Chinese chives". With their white flowers, long green shoots, and lack of a bulb, Garlic chives are graceful herbs with pretty white flowers. The combination of a chive-like appearance and strong garlic flavour makes garlic chives a popular seasoning. Chopped fresh garlic chives are found in recipes for Chinese dishes including stir-fries, and they are used in Japanese cuisine as well. You can grow garlic chives in your garden or a container herb garden and bear a strong resemblance to regular chives. That's not surprising since both are members of the onion family. However, while the standard chives have a mild flavour similar to onions, Chinese garlic chives are known for their strong “garlicky” flavour.

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Chives -Large leaf; One of the most popular herbs used in home gardens, Chives Large Leaved Plant is native to Mexico and South America. It has a pungent and aromatic flavour that makes it popular in Mexican cooking and its leaves and stems make interesting decorations on tables.

Chives Large Leaved Plant has several uses in cooking and as a garnish for food. Because it has such a pungent flavour, Chives Large Leaved Plant is used like garlic. In addition to being used as a garlic repellent, chives are also good for insect bites and burns, as well as digestive ailments.

Chives Large Leaved Plant can also be eaten raw or dried. When dried it becomes a delicious herb soup and has a distinct chive taste. When raw, Chives Large Leaved Plant has a sharp, pungent flavour that is very pleasant. The chive plant has an amazing ability to absorb the oils of the sunflower seeds, so they can be harvested several times a day, then placed in the sun and allowed to dry. This gives chives a fresh scent.

If you are growing chives from seeds, you will need to be sure that you buy chives Large Leaved Plants seed that will grow in your garden. Chives are small and do not grow up to three feet high. When growing from seed, be sure to keep the seed away from young children and pets. Chives Large Leaved Plant will only produce new leaves when they are fully developed.

If you are growing larger plants, such as the leaved chives, they can be used both as a garnish and as a spice in dishes. In Mexican cooking, they are often added to stews and  soups along with onion and garlic. https://ejurbanfarms.com.au/shop/large-chives/

Natsuyo Chives: Green slender bunching onion high in vitamin B and C. Widely used in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean cuisine. Natsuyo is a cold tolerant and heat tolerant variety that is a good bunching onion for all year-round production. Resistant to disease especially downy mildew.

Chives are a member of the onion family, but unlike most onions, the greens are harvested instead of the bulb. In comparison to standard onions, chives have a much milder taste. The small grass-like herb is often added to soups, salads, and sauces for its light flavour and aesthetic appeal. Whether you're using chives for cooking or as an ornamental addition to your garden, the entire process from choosing a species of chive, preparing your garden, planting, and harvesting is quite easy.

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Onion Chives: Perennial growing to 25cm. Grows in slowly spreading clumps. Plant has green, hollow, tubular leaves that have a mild onion flavour; used as a garnish, in sauces, dips, stews, casseroles, salads and soups. Can be grown in containers.

Chives are a member of the onion family, but unlike most onions, the greens are harvested instead of the bulb. In comparison to standard onions, chives have a much milder taste. The small grass-like herb is often added to soups, salads, and sauces for its light flavour and aesthetic appeal. Whether you're using chives for cooking or as an ornamental addition to your garden, the entire process from choosing a species of chive, preparing your garden, planting, and harvesting is quite

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Happy gardening

Growing lettuce is relatively easy. Well, as long as it is cool enough. Unfortunately, lettuce is NOT a tropical plant. In the tropics you can only grow lettuce during the cooler months. Lettuce does NOT like hot weather. In warmer areas, such as Northern Australia, lettuce can also be grown outdoors throughout the winter. Increasing daylight hours and hot temperatures stimulates lettuce to bolt, which makes growing lettuce more challenging during the summer months.

Growing lettuce is an easy and inexpensive way to put fresh gourmet salad greens on the table. As a cool-season crop, lettuce grows well with the cool, moist weather available in spring autumn. In cooler climates, the lettuce growing season can also be extended year-round using an indoor hydroponic system.

Why You Should Grow Lettuce

Have you ever tasted a lettuce fresh from the garden? I mean, FRESH? Picked less than 30 minutes ago? It's amazingly delicious! You will never settle for shop lettuce again after you tasted a truly fresh garden lettuce. The flavour still beats the shop lettuces any day, but it's definitely not the same as a garden-fresh lettuce. That's one reason to grow lettuce.

The other reason to grow lettuce is that lettuces are so incredibly ornamental. You know I don't believe in the separation of a strictly defined "veggie patch", kept separate from the ornamental part of the garden.

Do you know how many colourful varieties with different kinds of leaves there are. You can plant the most beautiful swirls and patterns just out of lettuce. But even individual plants or clumps of a few, strategically placed, can look as gorgeous as any typical bedding flower.

 When to Plant Lettuce.

The lettuce growing season begins in early spring and extends through autumn for colder climates. In warmer areas, such as Northern Australia, lettuce can also be grown outdoors throughout the winter. Increasing daylight hours and hot temperatures stimulates lettuce to bolt, which makes growing lettuce more challenging during the summer months. As a cool-season crop, lettuce can be direct-seeded into the garden as soon as the soil can be worked in the spring. Lettuce can also be started or grown indoors. Try succession planting and growing varieties of lettuce with differing maturity times to harvest lettuce plants throughout the growing season.

What Lettuces love and hate.

Lettuces need good soil. It should be light, free draining and rich in organic matter. It needs to hold lots of water and lots of nitrogen and other nutrients.

Lettuces taste best when they are grown as fast as possible and for that they need water and food.

Lettuces need lots of everything, and they want a steady supply of it. Any set back they suffer will at least make them tough and bitter, at worst it will cause them to bolt to seed straight away without making any leaves for you. So, make sure they never get stressed (e.g., by forgetting to water them).

Lettuce has shallow roots, so it dries out easily!

Any gardening book (all written for cooler climates) will tell you that full sun is essential. Full sun is best ONLY when it isn't too hot. Once the temperatures approach the thirties, your lettuce will definitely appreciate some shade!

Growing Lettuce from Seed

 Direct seeding is the easiest way to grow lettuce. Either spread the seed very thinly along a row and cover lightly with soil, or sprinkle it over a bed and rake it in. Lettuce seed is very fine and not easy to spread evenly, therefore both methods will likely require you to thin your seedlings later.

Lettuce seeds usually germinate within seven to ten days but can take as little as two or as long as twelve days. It depends on the variety, the temperature, the moisture and other factors.

To thin your seedlings if they are too dense, cut the surplus lettuce plants rather than pulling them out, so you don't damage the roots of the neighbouring plants.

Direct seeding will likely cause some losses. Emerging lettuce seedlings are very vulnerable to all sorts of bugs. Slugs love them, so do grass and leaf hoppers, and earwigs and other soil insects can get them before they even break the surface. Also, lettuces grow very slowly in the beginning and are easily overgrown by weeds.

You can also grow your lettuces in pots or punnets and transplant them when they are big enough to handle.

Handle them very carefully to minimize the transplanting shock. Ideally you don't disturb the roots at all. Only transplant lettuce in the late afternoon to give them the longest possible time to settle in, before they have to cope with the sun and heat. If your lettuce seedlings were grown in shade or semi shade you need to sun harden them before transplanting them. Alternatively you can provide shade for a few days in their new position and then gradually remove it. A couple of hours the first day, longer the next and so on. If it's very hot, you may need to do both. The cooler the weather, the better your chances to successfully transplant your lettuce.

Growing Lettuce Plants

Lettuces need to grow fast to taste good, so keep up the water and nutrients. If the weather is very hot and your soil sandy, you will need to water daily. Stick your finger in the soil if not sure. Lettuces have a very shallow root system, so if your finger does not find any water, neither does the lettuce!

If your lettuce grows slowly despite having plenty of water, then it needs more food. Ideally you planted your lettuce in a well-prepared bed that has lost of organic matter and compost in it. If not, then you need to supply extra nutrients, especially nitrogen. The problem is that too much added nitrogen makes plants sappy and weak and very attractive to bugs. Therefore, repeated small doses of fertilizer are better than one big dose. (A classic high nitrogen fertiliser would be chicken manure.)

Lettuces need some shade in hot weather. Don't plant them in deep shade though, like under a tree. They will just grow into pale, leggy things with few leaves on them. Ideally you find a position that provides dappled shade in the afternoon. Other options are interplanting between taller plants that will not totally shade them capsicums/peppers or eggplants, staked tomatoes. Take the idea and experiment with it.

Harvesting Lettuce Plants.

For crisper lettuce, harvest in the morning. Wash leaves in cold water and dry with a paper towel. Place lettuce in a plastic bag and store in the refrigerator. Leaf lettuce can be harvested once the outer leaves reach a usable size. Picking the young, tender outer leaves will encourage the inner leaves to continue growing.

Harvest romaine and leaf lettuce as baby greens by cutting straight across the plant 2.5 to 5 cm above the soil level. Be sure to leave the basal growing point for further leaf development.

Harvest head lettuce (depending on the variety) when they’ve reached a suitable size. If you allow the lettuce to become too mature, you’ll end up with bitter lettuce.

Harvest iceberg when the head forms a tight ball, and the outer leaves are pale green. Plants can be pulled, or heads can be cut.

Romaine (cos) types of lettuce can be harvested by removing tender outer leaves or waiting until a head is formed. When removing the head, cut the plant above the base to encourage regrowth or remove the entire plant if regrowth is not desired.

Growing Lettuce in Hot Weather

Not all kinds of lettuce are created equal! Sorry, Iceberg is out. Do not bother with it. In a tropical climate it will just rot from the centre. The other hearting lettuce varieties, like Butterhead or Batavian (Summer Crisp) may do ok in the coolest months. (The upper temperature limit to grow heading lettuces is 28°C

Unfortunately, the Cos/Romaine types are also very heat susceptible. I do grow those, but they are the first to bolt to seed at the first sign of hot weather. The most heat tolerant kinds of lettuce are the open leafed varieties. All the pretty fancy lettuces you see in the shops, the frilly and curly varieties, they are your lettuce varieties of choice for hot weather.

There are also differences in the heat tolerance of the open leafed lettuce kinds. Darker lettuce absorbs more sunlight than lighter colours, so it suffers sooner (but they are prettier). Choose light green over dark red. The most heat resistant kinds of lettuce in my experience are the oakleaf varieties.

Growing lettuce in containers

Lettuce is one of the vegetables that is very easy to grow in pots and you can even grow it in a small container. Healthy and continuously productive, this crispy salad green has many qualities that make it a blessing for health. You can start to harvest lettuce in no time– about 8 weeks for most of the varieties, it is super easy to grow and productive; similar to spinach. And the best part is you don’t need a lot of space to grow lettuce.

Choosing a Pot for lettuce

Almost all the lettuce varieties grow well in pots. As their shallow roots don’t need deep soil, they do best in wide and shallow containers. The pot must have adequate drainage holes in the bottom and should be at least 15cm deep. You can use any material for pots such as plastic, clay or terracotta pots. However, if you’re growing lettuce in a container in a warm climate, do that in clay pots and plant heat resistant varieties.

Planting Lettuce in Pots

 You can easily cultivate the lettuce from seeds or from seedlings. If you want to grow it from seeds, read this post. Alternatively, you can directly buy the seedlings from a nearby nursery. For continuous harvest do successive planting, sow seeds in every two weeks throughout the growing season.

In summer, when the weather starts to heat up the lettuce tends to bolt, to reduce this tendency keep your potted lettuce plant in a cool spot and provide proper shade.

Requirements for Growing Lettuce in Containers

Spacing Considering you’re growing lettuce in a small space in your container garden, we assume you’ll harvest your lettuce plants regularly; trying “Cut and Come Again” method. This way you don’t need to care much about spacing.

Sow seeds densely and thin out the seedlings as they grow picking young, tender leaves regularly. Keep the plants 10 to 15cm apart (depending on the size of the leaves you want and cultivar). However, head lettuces require more spacing than leaf lettuces and planting depth.

Position for lettuce

The lettuce loves the sunlight (more in cooler zones) though it can be grown easily in a partially shaded area but if you’re growing lettuce in a warm climate where the sun is intense try to place the pot in a spot that receives only a few hours of morning sun.

During the hottest hours of the day (in the afternoon) it is recommended to create a shade for the plant to prevent the drying of the soil as lettuce prefers slightly moist soil constantly. Also, move the container in a cool spot when the temperature rises as this favourite green is heat sensitive.

Soil for lettuce

For growing healthy lettuce, use a good quality soil mix which has plenty of organic matter, such as compost and peat. You can also add well-rotted manure or compost additionally. The soil you use must be loamy and well-drained and doesn’t hold water too much.

Watering lettuce

In shallow pots, you may need to water frequently so that the plant will not dry out completely. Make sure that you not only keep the soil slightly moist but also avoid overwatering your container grown lettuces as overwatering can kill the plants due to root rot.

Fertilizer lettuce

Because lettuce plants mature quickly, a single or double application of fertilizer is usually all that is needed to boost the production. Before you fertilize, wait for a few weeks to allow the seedlings to establish. To fertilize lettuce, you can use a granular balanced fertilizer such as 10-10-10. You can also use liquid fertilizer for a quick boost. When fertilizing, be sure to follow manufacturer’s instructions as both over and under fertilization can be harmful.

Pests and Diseases with lettuce

Growing lettuces in containers require care from leaf eating insects. However, if the plants are healthy there are fewer chances of infestation of pests or diseases. Mildew, leaf spot, rot and a variety of bacterial infections are common diseases that can attack lettuce. In pests and insects– caterpillars, cutworms, aphids, maggots and beetles can cause damage to the plant.

Harvesting lettuce

Once the lettuce leaves have reached the height of 10 to 15cm (the baby green size perfect for cut and come again method) or according to your desired size, either pick the outer leaves individually or harvest them by cutting the leaves off 2-3 cm from above the base or crown (Must remember, don’t cut into or below the crown or else your plant will die). This way the plant will grow back, and you’ll be able to harvest it again. You can also pick the leaf lettuce before maturity, it’s simple, just remove the outer leaves when you need them in salads and keep the centre leaves growing.

Happy gardening.

You’ve got to admire leeks. They’re exceptionally hardy, generally trouble-free, and best of all they will provide beautiful long stems from autumn right the way through to spring at a time when other harvests are thin on the ground. Now’s the time to start thinking about sowing them…so let’s get started! Leeks are very hardy vegetables, which in most regions will safely sit through frost and snow to be lifted as needed. You can prolong the harvest period by selecting a mix of varieties. Early season leeks are less hardy but will be ready for autumn, while mid and late season leeks will give you smooth stems for winter and spring.

What Are Leeks?

Like onions and other members of the Allium family, leeks are a bulbous vegetable with white flesh and leafy green tops. The bulb, however, is not round, but just slightly larger than the stem nearest the roots. The more rounded the bulb, the older the leek. Leeks are one of the more expensive onion varieties you'll find at the market. This does depend on location: In countries where they're commonly used, leeks are cheaper. Those who love the mild taste of leeks and the ease of preparation believe they're worth a little extra money.

Growing Leeks at a glance

Ease of Culture: Easy
Where: All zones
Best climate: Cool, and temperate
When to plant: Autumn and winter
Spacing: 10-20 cm
Harvest: Spring and summer (20-25 weeks)
pH: 6-7

Climate for Leeks

• Leeks prefer cool to warm conditions in the range of 12-25°C
• In cold areas, they are best sown in spring to early autumn for transplanting later
• In warm areas, plant in early autumn and harvest late winter/spring

Soil for leeks

• Leeks grow in a wide range of soils but like a well-drained soil moderately rich in humus
• It is a good crop to plant following a crop that has been heavily manured like corn or lettuce.
• Use a garden fork to loosen the soil well, and then mound the soil to help improve drainage.
• Add lime if your soil is acidic.

Position for Leeks

Leeks grow best in full sun but will tolerate part shade.

Sowing leek seeds

• Leeks are easy to grow from seed or seedlings.
• Seed are best sown into punnets for transplanting later.
• Fill punnets with a good quality seed raising mixture. Sprinkle seed on the surface and press the seed into the mixture to create close contact.
• Gently water seeds in and keep the mix moist until they germinate.
• Place punnets in a warm spot that gets a few hours of morning sun
• After germination, keep the mix evenly moist and feed with a liquid fertiliser once a week to encourage healthy growth and establishment.
• Seedlings are ready for planting out around 8 weeks after germination.

Container Gardening Leeks -

At this point, you'll either have some young leek seedlings or some roots to plant. Either way, the overall process of growing leeks in containers is fairly straightforward. Although leeks in containers is quite easy, there are a few steps that you'll want to follow to ensure a healthy and tender crop:

Leeks planted in a 12 litre container

When you're ready to plant outdoors, select a suitable container for leeks to grow in. A container whose depth is around 8-10 inches and volume measures 9 to 12  Litres do fine.

Fill the container 2/3 of the way full with a premium potting soil. Leeks require a hefty amount of composted organics to maintain growth. The chosen potting soil should also be amended with sand or perlite to achieve proper drainage.

With the container two thirds full with potting soil, plant the seedlings or leek bottoms so that the root section is just below the soil line. Water in well. For small-medium sized leeks, utilize an all direction planting method ensuring 4-5 inches between plants. If larger leeks are desired, space 6-8 inches apart in all directions.

Place the newly planted container of leeks somewhere in the garden that receives a minimum of six hours of sunlight daily. Leeks will need this full sun (6+ hours) to survive.

Water the leeks so that the soil remains moist, but never waterlogged. I've found that watering thoroughly once a week is sufficient for proper leek growth.

As the season progresses and your leeks get larger, blanching of the stem should be performed. To do this, fill your container with soil or compost as the leeks grow taller. The additional soil will "blanch" the leek stem, turning it from fibrous green growth into tender white shoots

As long as you're using aged compost to blanch the leek stems with, fertilizing is generally not required. If you do feel inclined to do so, a nitrogen heavy compost tea may be applied a few times during the season. Just remember, too much fertilizer can cause leeks to bolt.

Blanching Leeks

While all parts of the leek are edible, it’s the sweet tender white section that is preferred for cooking. 'Blanching' - the process of denying the lower section of the stems of sunlight as they grow - helps to increase the white section. This is achieved by planting seedlings deeply and covering the lower stems with a short section of PVC pipe or milk carton as they mature.

Planting Leek seedlings

• Dig planting trenches or rows 20cm deep and 20-30cm apart
• Separate and plant seedlings 10-20cm apart along the trench
• As the plants grow, gradually backfill the soil in the trench to cover and blanch the lower stems.

General Planting Guide for Leeks:

Method:              Sow direct or raise seedlings

Sowing Depth:   5mm

When:                 Spring, summer, and autumn

Germination:     10-14 days at 18-23°C

Life Cycle:            Hardy Biennial (usually grown as an annual)

Row Spacing:      45cm

Plant Spacing:    12cm

Position:              Full sun, moist soil

Days to Maturity/Flowering:       110 days

*Notes: Keep well-watered. Hill stems with soil to blanch and create longer stem.

Watering and fertilising Leeks

• Water crops regularly to keep soil moist.
• Sprinkle a little organic fertiliser along the rows once every six weeks to keep plants developing strongly.

Harvesting Leeks

• Leeks can be harvested at an time you feel they are big enough to cook with
• The ideal size for harvesting is when their diameter is around 2.5 cm
• Aim for a blanched section at least 10-15cm long.
• Large mature leeks may require a garden fork to help lift them out of the ground.
• Leeks can be left in ground for extended periods without loss of quality – up to 12 months in cool to temperate climates (less in tropical and subtropical zones).

Pest and diseases

Leeks are largely pest and disease free. Thrips may attack the foliage, but they cause little damage to the crop. Snails and slugs will sometimes lodge themselves between the leaves – inspect the plants periodically and pick these out.

In the kitchen

The delicate mild flavour of leek can be enjoyed in soups, sauces, pies, tarts, and casseroles and sautéed and served as a side dish. Leeks need to be washed and cleaned thoroughly before cooking to remove the soil that collects at the base of the leaves.

How to Cook with Leeks

Leeks can be boiled, braised, fried, or roasted. They can be treated like onions, either sautéed in butter or olive oil or caramelized. However, you cook them, it's important to avoid overcooking leeks because they will get mushy, even a little slimy. The goal is to cook leeks until tender, though it should still require a little force to pierce them with a fork. When adding them to a recipe, you'll typically want to add the leeks near the end of the cooking time. Raw leeks are also a popular salad component.

Preparing leeks is relatively easy. Begin by cutting off the roots and the darkest green tops (these can be reserved for making stock). You will be left with a white stalk and light green leaves that are just beginning to separate; these are the edible parts. Cut each leek into quarters lengthwise but avoid cutting all the way through the white end. Rinse the leeks well, being sure to fan out the leaves that tend to trap a lot of dirt and debris. Pat the leeks dry, then chop, dice, or slice as needed.

Varieties that we sell

Elephant Leek

Allium Porrum

200 seeds/pkt Elephant Leeks

Large leeks that can grow up to 10cm in diameter.  Good flavour.  Perfect for salads, stews, soups, stir-fries and steamed.

LEEK Bulgarian Giant

Allium Porrum

200 seeds/pkt

Happy Gardening

Garden peas are an easy-to-grow, reliable addition to any vegetable plot. In addition to the traditional shelling variety, you can also grow edible podded varieties such as Sugar Snap. Since they vary so much in size, colour, and flavour, there’s a pea variety out there for everybody. If you want to give peas a chance, here is most of what you need to know.

Growing your own garden peas will convert you to this ultimate in snack foods, as you will be hooked from the first time you munch on a snow pea pod picked straight from your own garden. Gardeners have been enjoying the delights of fresh peas for thousands of years, as they are one of the oldest of all vegetable crops, having been grown at least as far back as ancient Egypt. And it is easy to see why when the versatility of this remarkable member of the legume family is realised. Peas are easy to grow, can be eaten straight from the bush, are a mainstay of many traditional English recipes and last but by no means least, newer varieties such as sugar snap peas lend themselves perfectly to healthy stir-fry cookery.

Garden peas (Pisum sativum L.) are cool-season crops that include the common green English pea and the edible-podded pea. English peas are shelled and only the seed eaten, whereas edible-podded peas are eaten whole. Edible-podded peas take two forms, the full-podded snap pea with large seeds and the flat-podded snow or sugar pea with undeveloped seeds. Wrinkled-seeded varieties of peas generally are sweeter than smooth-seeded varieties and are preferred for home use. Peas are also often referred to as legumes as they belong to a large group of plants that bear their seed in pods that split down both sides when they are ripe. This family has an important advantage in that the roots are able to absorb nitrogen gas from the air and use it as a source of nutrient, meaning that they are able to grow in nutrient-poor soils that would severely limit plants from most other families.

Garden peas are one of the easiest of all vegetables to propagate and grow, giving rather rapid gratification. While they will grow satisfactorily in most garden soils, if drainage is poor then mounding the soil will give better results. If you are a particularly time-poor gardener, ready to plant pea seedlings are available in punnets from your local garden centre. However, it must be said that planting from seed will usually give a better result, as they are large, easy to handle and usually germinate within a week of planting. Sow the seeds 2-3 cm deep and 5cm apart within the row. Dwarf varieties can be grown in rows about 50cm apart while climbing types need a metre between rows and a trellis at least a metre and a half tall. Peas are a cool season plant that can be grown through winter in the warmer parts of Australia such as coastal NSW and Queensland. In colder areas such as Canberra it is best to delay sowing them to either late winter or early spring so that you can avoid the danger of frost damage to the flowers and developing pods.

Garden peas will thank you if you prepare their bed about five weeks before planting. Do this by adding loads of well-rotted chook poo and compost and maintaining a pH of 6.5 – 7.5. A touch of dolomite lime in the patch at planting time is a good idea, one small handful around the area to be planted.  Pea plants, even dwarf varieties, benefit from some type of support, so provide netting, trellis, wires, or pea brush for the tendrils to cling to. Pea brush consists of branched shrub pruning’s inserted into the row for support of the climbing pea plants. Erect the support system before or immediately after planting seeds to avoid disturbing the roots of germinating and established plants. Snow peas are one of the most satisfying vegetables to grow even in small spaces and are ideal as a plant for balconies and courtyards as they could and should be harvested every couple of days. As well as the pods you can also harvest the tender young shoots for salads and stir-fried meals. They can be grown just as well in a pot as they can in the ground just as long as they have a support to climb on to. A tripod made of tomato stakes will happily suffice in a large container planting. The seeds are sown straight into their final position and will find their own way onto the support. A handful of a complete slow-release fertilizer will see them through to the end of their fruiting period in spring. The most likely problem to be encountered is a white fungus that attacks the leaves and pods called powdery mildew. It can usually be controlled by spraying the plants with one part milk that has been diluted with nine parts of water. Snow peas are best harvested before the seed starts to swell in the pod and should be picked every few days to keep the plants at their maximum productivity.

Garden pea varieties:

Massey Gem (shelling)

Dwarf (bush) growing to 50cm producing pods to 9cm. Great flavour; very sweet. Very popular market variety. Disease resistant. Cold tolerant. Freezes well. Is also known as 'Melbourne Market'. Very popular for professional farmers or home gardeners. Massey Gem is the most widely used commercial shelling pea variety for the fresh market in Australia. Dwarf plants that grow to 50 cm tall and produce large pods containing 8 peas. This variety is considered the sweetest of the shelling pea varieties and is suitable for professional farmers and home gardeners.

Sugar Snap Cascadia

These popular peas are perfect for junior gardeners. Easy to grow with stringless, succulent, sweet pods that can be gobbled straight from the plant. A high yielding plant with pods that grow to 7-8 cm long. This variety grows to 1.5 m high when trellised. Peas need well-drained, limed soil. Grows well in cool climates and improves the soil.

Snow Pea: Mammoth Melting

Climbing snow pea seed variety, must be grown on a trellis as bush can grow up to 2.0m tall. Produces small-midsized, sweet pods approximately 10cm long. Another use for Mammoth Melting is to pick the leaves and shoots to eat as a steamed vegetable which is popular in Asian dishes. Climbing Snow Pea growing to 200cm. Flat, green, edible pods growing to 10cm by 2cm. Sweet and tender. Heavy cropping. Can be eaten raw or cooked, excellent in salads and stir-fries. Snow-peas are part of the legume family (beans and peas). They prefer any average well drained soil. They are a cool season annual that can tolerate heavy frost but can be killed at temperatures below -17 C. These plants also have nitrogen fixing abilities when the ground starts to warm up. Plant 2-3cm deep in rows 500mm apart in a well-prepared garden bed. These are very hardy.

Blue Pea: (Shelling)

Dwarf (bush) growing to 90cm, green pods to 6.5cm. Sweet and tasty, heavy bearer and a very popular variety.  Blue peas  are part of the legume family (beans and peas). They prefer any average well drained soil;  they are a cool season annual that can tolerate heavy frost but can be killed at temperatures below -17 C. These plants also have nitrogen fixing abilities when the ground starts to warm up.

Greek Oregano, Strong pungent flavour; better than any other variety. Perennial growing to 60cm. Bushy plant with pointed grey/green leaves. Leaves are very aromatic and can be used fresh or dried; commonly used in Italian, Greek and Mexican cuisine. Strong peppery flavour. Also has medicinal uses. Sometimes called "The pizza herb".    

Fresh herbs from the garden are an absolute must for anyone serious about cooking. One of my absolute favourites in the herb garden is Greek oregano (Origanum vulgare var. hirtum), also known as European or Turkish oregano. So just what is Greek oregano?

Greek Oregano leaves are oval, hairy dark green leaves with small white flowers and positioned in opposite pairs along the stems. Some varieties have fuzzy leaves, others not. Oregano starts as a ground-hugging rosette of leaves, but it can easily grow to about 60cm tall. A handful of plants will provide you with enough oregano to use fresh in season and to dry for use throughout the rest of the year.

Greek Oregano is generally planted in the spring or autumn. It grows quickly and will provide leaves suitable for cooking in no time.

Greek Oregano is one of those Mediterranean herbs that grow well in full sun, planted in lean-to-average soil that is well-drained. Climate, soil, and moisture can all cause variation in the oregano’s flavour, and rich soil tends to dilute the pungency of the flavour. This is a good plant for those sunny areas of your yard with poor soil that isn't very suitable for other plants. If planting in the garden, standard oregano (O. vulgare) should be planted 30 to 60cm apart. Wait until the soil is about 21 degrees C before planting.

Greek Oregano Care

Light
Most oregano varieties need full sun, however, the golden oregano variety does best in part shade, as its leaves tend to scorch in full sun.

Soil
Sandy loam is best suited for Greek Oregano. If your soil is moist with lots of organic matter, oregano will not perform as well as it does in lighter, dryer soil that is typically well-drained. Allow the soil to dry out fully between watering. If planting in pots, use any well-draining, general-purpose potting soil, possibly blended with some extra sand, perlite, or vermiculite.

Water
Do not overwater Greek Oregano. Water thoroughly only after the soil is dry to the touch.

Temperature and Humidity
Greek Oregano may need some winter protection. Covering the plants with mulch after the ground has frozen will protect it from wind damage.

Fertilizer
Many herbs are considered weeds, and most are not particular about the soil in which they grow. Oregano is no exception—it will grow in soil that is only moderately fertile. Do not add compost or fertilizer to its growing area. Large amounts of nutrients, such as nitrogen, can change the flavour of this herb.

Oregano Varieties

Different species of oregano and their cultivars can be perennial ground covers, tender perennials, or even small perennial subshrubs. Even common oregano, Origanum vulgare, can take many forms. Most have stems that can get very woody. Here are some common oregano varieties to consider:

Oregano vulgare (common oregano, wild marjoram, pot marjoram): Marjoram is a type of oregano with a less pungent, sweeter taste, often used in French and English cooking. There are many cultivars of O. vulgare, generally named for their unique tastes.
Origanum vulgare 'Aureum' (golden oregano): This oregano has lighter coloured leaves and a milder oregano flavour. It is more popular as an ornamental plant than as a cooking herb.
Oregano heracleoticum (Greek oregano): The variety usually used in Mediterranean cooking; this is the type most people associate with oregano flavour. Oregano onites is also sometimes listed as Greek oregano.
Lippia graveolens (Mexican oregano): Although not in the oregano family, this plant is called Mexican oregano and is used in chili powders.
Pruning
Oregano needs regular pinching back, beginning when the plant is only about 10cm tall. Pinching back the growing tips will make the plants bush out and prevent leggy, straggly growth. It also keeps the plant from flowering, which is best if you want to keep the leaves as flavourful as possible for kitchen use.

As the plant grows larger, this pinch-back ritual should be a weekly affair; any growth you are not using for cooking or drying can be discarded. If the plant becomes overly woody, cutting the stems all the way back to the ground will encourage more stems to sprout from the base, resulting in a fuller plant.

Harvesting Oregano
The most flavourful leaves on oregano are found immediately before the plant flowers, but you can snip off leaves at any time for cooking or drying. Leaves can be frozen to use over the winter.

You can begin harvesting when plants have reached 8 to15cm in height, cut sprigs for use. The stems tend to get woody and the easiest way to strip the leaves is to hold the stem by the top, uncut end and run your finger down the stem.

How to Grow Oregano in Pots

Though it is perennial, oregano is well-suited to growing in pots, either as indoor plants or on a deck or patio. Any container with good drainage will do; 10 to 14 inches in diameter and 6 to 8 inches deep is an ideal size. Any general-purpose potting mix will be fine as a growing medium. Some growers find that adding a good amount of perlite, vermiculite, or sand to a peat-based potting soil gives the best results.

These plants will not require a lot of water. In a good-sized pot, oregano plants should not need to ever be reported. It's generally best to simply discard a potted plant that's become overgrown and woody, starting over with a new plant.

Propagating Oregano
Oregano plants can be started from seeds, divisions, or cuttings. Since different species of oregano will cross-pollinate, you may not get what you expect from seeds you save from garden plants.

From seeds: Oregano seeds require some light to germinate, so cover only slightly with soil. Start seeds indoors and transplant when outdoor temperatures remain above 7degrees C through the night and soil temps are about 21 degrees.

From cuttings: Oregano can be propagated from stem cuttings at any time from spring to fall, though spring and early summer tend to be best, since the stems are still green and pliable. Take 3- to 5-inch cuttings, making diagonal cuts just above a leaf node. Trim away the leaves from the bottom two-thirds of the cutting, but make sure to leave at least two leaves at the top. Place the cuttings in a glass of water in a bright but not sunny location. When a good network of roots appears, plant the cuttings in a small pot filled with potting mix to grow onward.

You can also simply divide plants at the root ball to make more plants. In early spring or fall, divide plants into segments when the centers begin to die out or the stems become too woody.

Overwintering
In cold-winter climates, cut back the stems of the oregano plant after the first frost kills the foliage. Leave a short umbrella of stems to protect the root ball, Cover the ground with 3 to 4 inches of dry mulch for the winter. Remove the mulch in spring as soon as the ground starts to warm up. The plant generally overwinters fine in warmer zones.

Kale is part of the Brassicaceae family which are also called "Brassicas," "crucifers," and "Cole crops". This family also includes broccoli, Brussels sprouts cabbage, cauliflower, kohlrabi and collards.

Most kale growing guides to growing kale will start out by telling you it is a cold weather crop, which tastes best after it has been touched by frost.

The reality is that while cold weather may be kale’s preference, Kale can be grown during any season and in most climates. The flavour, yield, and duration from seed to harvest will change depending on the temperature, weather patterns, variety, and soil condition, but kale is a tough crop that is willing to adapt to our expanding desire for it. With that said, it can tolerate temperatures as low as -5C degrees but will start to turn bitter and become tough in temperatures over 30C degrees.

This Beginners guide to growing plentiful kale will discuss how to grow kale in ideal conditions as well as giving some tips on how to grow it outside its preferred climate. Feel free to alter my suggestions to fit your garden’s needs.

So… let’s get growing!

Growing Kale in a Pot:

How to grow kale:

If you don’t have the space to grow kale in the garden, or you want to save yourself the hassle, you can grow it in a pot or other soil-appropriate container. The pot or container must have a decent size to it  for the plant to be able grow in. I would suggest at least 10 litres. Plant your seeds or seedlings in the center of the pot. Water well and a regular fertilizer program will be helpful. A planting guide for seed is available at the end of this blog. Make sure to move kale grown in containers into a partially shaded area when summer arrives.

Planting Kale in Your Garden:

Kale is a hardy biennial (it take two years to go to flower and complete its life cycle), but it is usually grown as an annual.

 If you’re planting during the cool season, find a spot where your kale will receive full sunshine. If you are planting during the warm season, or in a warmer climate, plant kale in partial shade.  Kale enjoys companion plants such as beets, celery, herbs, onions, and potatoes, but does not enjoy being planted near beans, strawberries, or tomatoes.

 Kale also prefers loamy, well-drained, moist (but not soggy) soil of average fertility. Surprisingly, it isn’t a fan of soil that is too rich in nitrogen, so it will do best with a pH between 5.5 to 6.8.  If your soil is too acid, try adding some wood ash to sweeten it. Light, sandy soils and very heavy clay soils will “negatively”* affect the flavour of kale, but it still has the potential to grow in these environments.

 Seeds will germinate in cool soil, but they sprout best when the soil temperature is around 21C degrees. If you’re starting them inside, then do so 5-7 weeks before the last expected frost. If you’re direct sowing the seeds outside, do so 2-4 weeks before the last frost and/or anytime at least 10 weeks before the first frost of the next season. No matter when you plant, the soil temperature must be at least 4C degrees or higher for good germination.

The hotter the weather, the more bitter and tough the kale, but even bitter and tough kale is nutritious and can be made into delicious dishes.

Sow seeds in small pots filled with a mix of soil and veganic fertilizers/compost Plant your seed around 10mm deep.  Keep the soil around the seedling evenly moist throughout its growth but allow the top layer of soil to dry between watering.

OR:

You can directly sow seeds in the garden starting 2 to 4 weeks before the last frost date or as soon as the ground can be worked in the springtime.

A note on quantity: If you’re going to be using kale on a regular basis (and why wouldn’t you be?) you’ll want to have at least 3-4 plants per household member. It is also always a good idea to plant more seeds or buy more seedlings than you think you’ll need in case some of them don’t make it.

Before planting, distribute a good amount of organic fertilizer over the area you will be using and work it into the soil. Depending on the potency of the fertilizer you are using, you may want to fertilize then cover the bed and allow it to weather for one to two weeks before planting. If you are using seasoned compost to fertilize, you should be able to simply fertilize then plant the next day. If you’re using a mulch to fertilize you can simply place it around the plants after they are in the ground.

If you are planting from seedlings(that you started 4-6 weeks ago or purchased), put them in the ground 1-2 weeks before the last expected frost date. But only do this if the seedlings are big enough to survive the weather (they will have at least four true leaves**and the next two leaves will be beginning to form. The plant will usually be approximately 6 to 10cm high by this point.)

The recommended space for planting seedlings is 50cm apart in rows of 50cm apart. The space for direct sowing is much closer (if you are direct sowing your kale seeds, plant them 10mm deep and approximately 10cm apart and then thin plants to 50cm apart when they are 6 to 15cm tall.)

No matter the shape of the stem, set the transplants perpendicular to the ground so they will grow straight up, and place them deep enough to support the plant, but no further than the base of their first leaves.

A good amount of fertilizer depends on the type of fertilizer you are using. Follow the directions on the box if you’re using an organic fertilizer mix. With compost and mulches, you usually want to go at least 5 to 10cm deep, while other amendments like seaweed powder or rock dust only require a good sprinkle.

When a seed first emerges from the soil it has a set of two leaves called cotyledons. These are part of the seed and are its first food source. As the seedling grows, it forms two more leaves which look very different from the cotyledons. These are the first “true leaves” which look more like the plant’s adult leaves, but obviously smaller. Once the true leaves emerge, the cotyledons become unnecessary and eventually wither and fall off.

Care for your Kale:

Keep your plants well-watered. Along with cool temperatures, kale also enjoys moist soil. Keeping the soil most will also help keep the leaves sweet and crisp.

 Side dressing (fertilizing along the rows) with compost throughout the growing season will help keep your kale producing. You can do this approximately every 6-8 weeks.

If you’re having issues with dirt sticking to and rotting your kale leaves, you can put mulch (such as straw or grass) around the kale once it is at least six inches high.

How to harvest kale:

Kale is usually ready for harvest 70-95 days from seed and 55-75 days from transplanting, depending on the variety you are planting. Check the seed packet for specific times.

You can begin to cut individual leaves off the kale when the plant is approximately 8 to 10 inches high, starting with the outside leaves first.

 If you decide to harvest the entire plant, cut the stock two inches above the soil and the plant will sprout new leaves in 1 to 2 weeks.

 Make sure to harvest kale leaves before they become too old and tough. If you can’t eat the kale leaves fast enough and they begin to turn brown, pull the old leaves off, and compost them, to free the plants of insect attractants and unnecessary energy drains.

You can also pick kale regularly and store it in the fridge for up to a week. If you choose to do so, keep it lightly moist and place it in a bag, but unsealed, in the crisper bin.

Varieties of Kale

Kale- Black Toscana

Black Toscana Kale

An extremely attractive savoyed leaf variety with dark grey/green leaves. Grows to 60cm tall. Heirloom.                 Kale is also known as Borecole.

Black Toscana Kale is a large kale with long strappy leaves, with the potential to reach 60-90 cm tall. It can have a widespread as each leaf may grow to 5-10 cm wide, with 30cm high leaves on long greenish-white stalks. The leaves have a bumpy or embossed surface texture and are dark blue green in colour. When the leaves are harvested, or cut away from the base, the plant takes on a fan or palm-like appearance giving it a prehistoric presence.             

Black Toscana Kale is reputed to be the best-tasting kale and is prized by chefs in Italy. Until recently, this leafy green was one of Tuscany’s best-kept secrets. This is the kale used for the famous Tuscan soup known as Ribollita, or re-boiled bean soup. It has been used in northern Italy for centuries, as an essential ingredient in dishes like risotto, pasta, and frittata. The taste is slightly sweeter and more delicate than the curly kale varieties but still retains an earthy component. https://ejurbanfarms.com.au/shop/black-toscana-kale/

Planting Guide: Black Toscana Kale

Method: Direct or Punnets

Planting Depth: 10mm

Best Planting Season/s: AutumnLate SummerSpring

Germination: 3 to 7 days at 10-29C

Life Cycle: Annual

Row Spacing: 50cm

Plant Spacing: 50cm

Position: Full sun

Days to maturity/flowering: 55-70 days

Other: Protect from slugs, snails, aphids, and caterpillars. Keep well-watered.

Dwarf Blue Curled Kale

Blue Dwarf Curled Kale

Dwarf Blue Curled Kale: In the past few years, the word “kale” has become synonymous with health, and not without good reason. This nutrient-packed member of the cabbage family is rich in vitamins and minerals and tastes good to boot! As if that weren’t enough to make you want to fill your garden with this tasty plant, most types of kale are also relatively easy to grow thanks to their ability to withstand cooler temperatures. Like many other hearty greens, the leaves’ flavour will actually improve if exposed to cooler temperatures, so light frosts are your friend instead of foe. There are many different varieties of kale, but almost all types are either purple or green in colour with broad or curly leaves.

Dwarf Blue Curled Kale, as its name suggests, the heirloom Dwarf Blue Curled variety is one of the curly leaf types of kale, with a beautiful green-blue hue that makes it a popular addition to many autumn gardens. This variety is considered to be particularly hardy and can be harvested in all climate zones until the ground freezes. Considering that it grows in a more compact fashion than other types of kale, it’s a great crop for space-challenged gardens.

Dwarf Blue Curled Kale can be planted either in the spring just prior to the last frost or in the autumn, leaving approximately 6 to 8 weeks before the first average frost for the plants to grow.  Although plants will be richer in flavour when they are allowed to grow in cooler weather, they are tolerant of most climates. https://ejurbanfarms.com.au/shop/dwarf-blue-curled-kale/

Planting Guide: Dwarf Blue curled Kale

Method: Direct or Punnets

Planting Depth: 10mm

Best Planting Season/s: AutumnSpringWinter

Germination: 3 to 7 days at 10-29C

Life Cycle: Annual

Plant Height: 35cm

Row Spacing: 100cm

Plant Spacing: 50cm

Position: Full sun

Days to maturity/flowering: 55-90 days

Other: Protect from slugs, snails, aphids, and caterpillars. Keep well-watered.

Red Russian Kale

Kale Red Russian

Kale is a primitive leaf vegetable. 'Red Russian' is one of the most popular varieties; it grows to 75cm at a fast rate and has blue/green/red tinged serrated leaves with red veins. The young leaves are eaten raw like lettuce, the old leaves cooked like cabbage. Has a sweet flavour. Less prone to cabbage moth (and caterpillars) than other varieties.

This variety is easily recognized by its richly coloured burgundy stems and purple-tinted leaves. They are flat and toothed like an oak leaf with overall dark green colours and deep red veins.

Red Russian kale offers a mild nutty flavour that is slightly sweet and earthy with a hearty texture. When choosing Red Russian kale look for fresh, bright, firm leaves. https://ejurbanfarms.com.au/shop/red-russian-kale/

Planting Guide: Red Russian Kale

Method: Direct or Punnets

Planting Depth: 10mm

Best Planting Season/s: AutumnLate SummerSpring

Germination: 3 to 7 days at 10-29C

Life Cycle: Annual

Row Spacing: 50cm

Plant Spacing: 50cm

Position: Full sun

Days to maturity/flowering: 55-70 days

Other: Protect from slugs, snails, aphids, and caterpillars. Keep well-watered.

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Happy Gardening

10 Best winter herbs that will grow successfully in the cold season. Winter can be frustrating for some that experience frosts, shortened daylight hours and the bone-chillingly wet winter days. Growing herbs in the winter will require more care and effort. Regardless there are herbs that can thrive and yield a successful harvest in the winter months. Growing fresh food should be the thing to do 365 days a year. Some the best winter herbs can survive the harsh cold weather and possible thrive due to proper care. Hopefully, this post can introduce you to some the herbs that you can grow and eat during the cold season.

Chervil: Chervil is one of those special herbs that prefer less sunlight and the cold conditions that winter brings. So, what is Chervil you may ask, Chervil looks like a slightly paler, more delicate, and more finely shaped flat-leaf parsley, but with frillier, thinner looking leaves. Sometimes bunches of chervil will have leaves that are quite tightly closed, almost flower-like. Avoid chervil with actual blossoms attached to it—that usually means the herb will have turned a bit bitter. Chervil is one of the herbs used to make fines herbs (the others are parsley, tarragon, and chives), a delicate herb blend used extensively in French cooking. Chervil is particularly delicious with eggs—either added to an omelette or sprinkled on scrambled eggs. It can also bring a fresh kick when added to lightly dressed salads. https://ejurbanfarms.com.au/shop/chervil-curled/

Parsley: Parsley is a plant that should not be underestimated. Parsley is a much more resilient plant than you can imagine, in extremely cold weather they can hide under the ground to remain safe and fruitful. If there's one under-appreciated herb out there, it's parsley. For many, their only encounter with parsley is the curly, bitter sprig on the side of their plate at restaurants. Native to Europe, parsley is a very attractive plant that is generally grown as a culinary herb but often wasted as a garnish or plate decoration. Considering it adds more freshness than flavour to dishes, it is best used fresh and added at the end of cooking, giving home cooks all the more reason to grow their own. It’s commonly used to elevate the flavour of dishes like soups, salads, and fish recipes. https://ejurbanfarms.com.au/shop/curled-parsley/

Thyme: Thyme can be a stressful herb to grow, Thyme is more at home and grows best in the colder months. It makes a great bushy pot plant and improves when you pick more of its leaves. Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) is a low-growing, woody perennial that performs especially well in somewhat dry, sunny conditions. A beloved Mediterranean herb, it holds its taste in cooking and blends well with other flavours of its native region, such as garlic, olive oil, and tomatoes. Thyme (pronounced "time") is used in a number of cuisines, including European, British, Mediterranean, African, Latin, and Central American, regional American, and the Caribbean. Fresh and dried thyme is commonly available in the refrigerated product section at the supermarket—use the de-stemmed leaves or add it to dishes whole. The thyme plant is robust and hardy and will proliferate in your home garden during growing months or in an indoor planter year-round. https://ejurbanfarms.com.au/shop/winter-thyme/

Rosemary: We have all heard about Rosemary, which is a perennial herb, meaning that it can be grown all year long and sturdy enough to survive the icy cold temperatures. This is an herb that flowers throughout the year. This is one of the more affordable potted herbs that you can pick up in the plant nurseries, supermarkets of weekend markets. Rosemary is perfect with the heartier meats like lamb or beef and stands up well to the more pungent flavours like garlic. Rosemary is one of those wonderful herbs that makes a beautiful ornamental plant as well as a versatile culinary seasoning. Its Latin name, Rosmarinus officinalis, means "dew of the sea," and rosemary is most closely associated with the cooking of the Mediterranean region. In warm climates, rosemary can be planted at any time.

Mint: Mint is a strong herb like thyme. Those of us that has grown one of the many varieties of mint, then you don’t need to be told to grow it in its own pot as mint has a bad habit of taking over the entire garden, it is known to be invasive if you give it half a chance in the right conditions. This can be one tough resilient herb that will continue to grow throughout  the colder months One good mint plant will supply you with all the mint leaves that you will need.

Oregano: Oregano is known as a very robust winter herb that grows well in the colder months because of its ability to withstand frosts. The more that you harvest oregano the bigger and stronger it grows. Possibly one of the most recognized herbs in the cook's garden, oregano is easy to grow and adds plenty of taste to food. It fantastic when cut fresh from the plant and can easily be dried for long-term storage. The leaves of the oregano plant are very small and a dark green colour. It is a perennial in many zones and the stems can become woody over the years. Oregano produces tiny white, pink, or purple flowers which are very attractive to pollinating bees. Oregano is an aggressive plant that likes to spread, and a bush of oregano can grow quite large if you allow it. The stems can also grow up to 60cm high and will often lay down on the ground, particularly when the plant is young or in the shade. For these two reasons, it is best to give your oregano plants plenty of room in the garden. Oregano is a satisfying herb for any gardener. It is easy to grow and care for, as long as it does not remain wet for too long. Oregano grows very well in partial sun, making it a good choice for an indoor garden as well. https://ejurbanfarms.com.au/shop/oregano-greek/

Basil: Basil is an extremely popular winter herb that is used for flavouring and seasoning. There is countless varieties of basil out there to choose from It has a unique aroma that fills the garden with a fresh, spicy scent that I can’t get enough of, and it lends dishes a subtle peppery flavour in all kinds of cuisines, from Italian to Thai. Like most herbs, it’s also healthy for you. As if that wasn’t enough to recommend it, growing basil isn’t as challenging as some edible plants. This tropical native is happy to grow outside, inside, in the ground, in pots or even in a hydroponic system. Harvesting is simple, too. You can pluck the leaves when you want to use them, and it will keep sprouting new ones. In fact, basil is so easy to grow and so useful around the house, I think it’s an essential plant for any garden (or windowsill) to have. There are dozens of varieties to choose from, each with unique flavours and uses. This guide will help you pick the best for your home and make it thrive.

Sweet basil is probably the type most people associate with basil. It has large, smooth leaves that are bright green. Thai basil as the name suggests, this is the type often found in Thai cooking. It has a distinct licoricey aroma and adds aniseed and clove flavour to dishes. Its leaves are more robust than Genovese basil so it can stand up to cooking in things like soup. There are several types of purple basil, all featuring beautiful dark purple leaves and lilac flowers. The leaves smell sweet and lend nicely to vinaigrettes and salads. Lemon basil is an old-fashioned heirloom variety that has an intense lemon flavour that goes nicely with fish or chicken. The plant features narrow, elongated leaves and lemon-scented white flowers. Greek basil also known as globe basil; this is an heirloom variety native to Southeast Asia. It has small leaves on compact, dome-shaped plants. It only gets about 8-inches tall, making it ideal for container growing. There are many more to choose from and I have only covered a few in this article. https://ejurbanfarms.com.au/shop/blue-spice-basil/

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Chives: Chives are perfect for salads or snipped into various other dishes, it can also be added as a garnish to all sorts of creations. Chives would have to be one of the easiest herbs to grow during the winter months because it only needs a couple of hours sunlight a day to be happy Chives are perennial, hardy species of onion (Allium schoenoprasum), whose small, slender, hollow leaves, chopped fine, are used for flavouring salads, stews, and soups. Handled like onions, the small oval bulbs multiply rapidly, form clumps, develop abundant foliage 15 to 30 cm high and small round heads of tiny lavender flowers. As both foliage and flowers are attractive in appearance (though onion-scented), the plants are often used for edging flower beds; but unless the flower-heads are cut or the seed is gathered promptly, self-sown seedlings may prove to be troublesome weeds. For best results, the clumps should be divided every second or third year. Chives are known as one of the easier culinary herbs to grow, which is what makes them perfect for the beginning herb gardener. They are easy to grow from seed and since they are perennial, they will return year after year. https://ejurbanfarms.com.au/shop/garlic-chives/

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Coriander: Coriander is an annual herb growing to 50cm. Aromatic plant with bright green leaves that are used fresh in salads or cooked in soups, sauces, and chutneys. The dried seeds are used whole or ground as flavouring in both sweet and savory dishes. Coriander also has medicinal uses. Also known as "Chinese parsley" and "Cilantro". Attracts bees. It is a soft plant growing to around 30 centimetres in height, up to 50cm in height when flowering, and a spread of around 15–25cm. All parts of the coriander plant are edible with the fresh leaves and stems (before flowering), roots and dried seed most commonly used in cooking. Coriander maybe a once a very year herb within the carrot family. it’s additionally referred to as Chinese parsley, dhania, or cilantro. All components of the plant are consumed, however the recent leaves and also the dried seeds. Coriander leaves are crucial ingredients in several foods, like chutneys and salads, salsa, guacamole, and as widely used as a garnish for soup, fish, and meat. As heat decreases their flavour, coriander leaves typically added  before serving. In Indian and Central Asian cuisines, coriander leaves are in massive amounts and deep-fried till the flavour diminishes. During summer, Coriander Eureka plants change rapidly from leafy to seedy (this is called ‘bolting to seed’) and it’s almost impossible to have a crop on hand for use in the kitchen in the hot months. During autumn, winter, and spring, however, coriander stays nicely leafy for a number of months. https://ejurbanfarms.com.au/shop/coriander-eureka/

Rocket: Wild Rocket (Arugula) is an extremely hardy leaf which can be added to your favorite salad bowls to add that extra peppery taste to it. This will certainly make a salad bowl tastier. You can grow this in pots or straight in the ground – the choice is yours. If you grow salad rocket in bowls, you can move it into the greenhouse as it gets cooler to keep it growing for longer. Wild Rocket is great to grow in the garden or herb patch. It is perennial so will grow every year producing you crops to use in your salads. Wild rocket is more peppery and fierier than the average rocket that you purchase in shops. To purchase wild rocket in shops it is a lot more expensive but so easy to grow. So why not try growing your own. Wild Rocket is also known as wall rocket. There are many differences between the salad rocket and the wild rocket is that the leaves are a lot finer on wild rocket than the salad version. They are also a lot stronger in taste. When using wild rocket to eat you can use it in exactly the same way as the salad version but be warned it is a lot hotter in taste. When planting wild rocket (Wall rocket) plant it in a dry shady spot – ideally near a wall – hence the name it gets. Keep picking the wild rocket often and it will soon grow new leaves on it to eat. Trim it back in autumn for another great harvest the year after. Once your seeds have germinated and are big enough for transplanting you can now look at potting them up if you are growing in seed trays. If you have sown the rocket seeds outdoors space the plants at around 10-15cm so they have room to grow and keep them weed free. The best part of growing something is harvesting it. To harvest rocket all you need to do is just pinch off the leaves as and when you require some for your salad. You will be picking it for weeks over the summer. If you pick the rocket leaves while they are young, the leaves have a much milder taste. https://ejurbanfarms.com.au/shop/rocket-wild/

Pak-choi is a vegetable that has been in cultivation for a long time in Asia,  Possible thousands of years. Pak-choi is widely used in Chinese cuisine as well this vegetable is extremely popular in the rest of Asia as well. The is confusion with its name as many areas know this vegetable as Pak-choy, Bok-choy, Bok-choi, Pak-choi or Chinese cabbage to name a few. This may have come about as a misunderstanding as how the Chinese name for this vegetable is translated, regardless of what you know this vegetable as, this is and extremely versatile vegetable that is extremely flavour some and tender which can be used in a wide assortment of dishes.

As this vegetable is sometimes known as Chinese Cabbage, this is reference to the fact that this vegetable is classified in the Brassica genus, along with cabbages, Cauliflower, Kale and Broccoli to name a few. Pak-choi also belongs to the Mustard family, so they have a distant tangy, somewhat spicy flavour as of that link. Pak-choi can come in a wide variety of sizes and colours thanks to the development of specific cultivars.  

Classic Pak-choi has white crunchy stems and a dark green leaf, both as which are edible and delicious. In Asia, the smaller the vegetable is, the more favourable the vegetable is viewed, because the smaller plants tend to be more tender, while outside of China, people seek out the larger plants as they are under the impression that the larger the better. If you can grow the smaller varieties or by smaller plants, you may find them to be tastier and more tender. Large Pak-choi has the tendency woody and lacking in flavour.

Tender young Pak-choi only requires a very brief cooking time, with the leaves taking even less time to cook than the stems. Some cooks will separate the leaves from the stem, adding the leaves at the very end of cooking so the leaves only slightly wilt before cooking, the stems can be cooked a little bit longer, though may people prefer the stems to be crunchy rather than softened. Pak-choi can be used in Stir-fries, soups, curries, spring rolls salads and numerous other dishes.

Growing: This is a fast-maturing, versatile and tasty crop to grow in your vegetable patch or containers on your porch. Pak-choi, like many other Asian vegetables are a cool season crop, preferring moist conditions and the ideal temperature range or 15 to 20 degrees Celsius, light frosts are tolerated by most varieties, generally the ideal time to plant is in the spring and autumn.

Varieties

The 4 most popular Types are:

White stemmed: These varieties grow to around 30cm, light to dark green leaves that often curl outwards, white stems that are short, wide, and generally flat. Great for stir-frying

Green stemmed: they have a broad, flattish light green and smooth stems, wide at the base and generally harvested at around 15cm tall, generally used in salads but are also good in stir-fries.

Squat Canton types: these are generally a short compact variety with wrinkled dark green leaves and white stems. They are sometimes harvested early as baby Bok-choi and have a good heat tolerance.

 Soup spooned Type: These grow to around 45cm tall and has cupped ladle like leaves with white stalks.

Seedlings or seeds: You can directly plant Pak-b into the garden bed or in to pots and thin out as they grow, or plant into seedling punnets and then plant them out later. The seeds are small so don’t plant them deep. I sprinkle the seed on top then water them in well and have great success in that method. They only need a light covering of soil to keep them moist.

Growing Ideas

Pak-choi likes uniform conditions and full sun excepts in the parts of Australia with hot summers, high temperatures and long days will cause them to bolt to seeds.

These plants are shallowed rooted and will require frequent watering, especially in hot and windy weather. Mulching and dripline irrigation may be helpful.

These plants may require wind protection and good air circulation.

Pak-choi like rich loamy soil with high fertility, good drainage, and plenty of organic matter.

Pak-choi likes  pH of between 6.5 and 7 and are sensitive to a pH of below 6. If pH is low add some agricultural lime a couple of weeks before planting.

Pak-choi is best grown quickly for great flavour and texture, add some seaweed solution at planting and every couple of weeks while growing.

Harvesting: Pak-choi grows fast and will take between 35 and 50 days to harvest time. Harvest what is required for the day, or just cut some leaves as required and they will continue to grow.

Pests and diseases. Like Cabbages,  Pak-choi can suffer the same problems, they can be susceptible to powdery mildew, aphids, caterpillars, snails, and slugs. For Caterpillars and aphids, I use a mixture of Molasses and liquid soup to spray the plants to get rid of them.

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As we know Australia is a large place and has diverse range of climates and regions.
What grows well in the North will be in a world of pain if you were to plant the same
plant say, in Canberra for example.
If the urge to plant strikes you in winter, don’t worry, there are still plenty of
vegetables that you can grow. There is a such a diverse range of varieties out there
means that there must be something that can be grown, no matter where you live or
the time of year it is.
When it comes to winter vegetables, the type to plant can differ greatly depending on
the area of Australia you live in. For example, those who live in Northern Queensland
will find their options differ from those who live in Melbourne.
For a lot of these veggies, you don’t necessarily need a lot of space to start growing.
Growing winter vegetables in pots or moveable garden boxes can be a good idea for
those who want the option of rearranging or moving their plants about.
Australia is a big country with varied landscapes and climates and is
divided into roughly 6 climate zones:

  1. Sub-tropical (includes South east QLD and Northern NSW)
  2. Wet and Dry Tropics (includes North QLD, NT, and WA)
  3. Dry Inland (includes Arid and Outback areas)
  4. Temperate (including Sydney, Coastal NSW and Victoria
  5. Cool and Southern Tablelands (including Melbourne, Tasmania and cool Highlands)
  6. Mediterranean (Adelaide and Perth).

What grows well in one area may not reach its full potential in another area and vice versa.
Doing a bit of research to find out what grows well in your area certainly pays off in the long
run so I have included a general guide below as to what you should plant in your zone for Winter.
Local Knowledge is also an important source of reference, so look around and ask other
urban farmers you know what they recommend planting. Over time, locals will have tried
planting all sorts of different things and will know what has worked in the past and what
wasn't so successful.

Sub-tropical (South East QLD and Northern NSW)

Herbs: Plantings may include Chamomile, Comfrey, Cress, Dill, Endives, Garlic, Lemon
Balm, Marjoram, Mints, Oregano, Parsley, Rocket, Spring Onions and Thyme
Vegetables: Plantings may include Beans, Beetroot, Bok/Pak-choi, Broccoli, Cabbage,
Cauliflower, Carrots, Chives, Kale, Leek, Lettuce, Mustards, Onions, Peas, Spring Onions,
Spinach (Chard) and Tomatoes in frost free areas.

Wet and Dry Tropical (includes North QLD, NT and WA

Herbs: Plantings may include Dill, Coriander, Chives, Marjoram, Mint, Oregano, Parsley,
Rocket, Thyme and Winter Tarragon
Vegetables: Plantings may include Beans Beetroot, Bok/Pak-choi, Cabbage, Capsicum,
Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Chinese Cabbages, Egg plants, Kale, lettuce, Mustards,
Onions, Peas, Pumpkins, Silver-beet, Squash, Sweet Corn and Tomatoes.

Dry Inland (includes Arid and Outback Areas)

Herbs: Plantings may include Basil, Chervil, Chives, Chicory, Coriander, Dill, Fennel,
Marjoram, Mustards, Oregano, Parsley, Sage, Sorrel, Thyme and Winter Tarragon.
Vegetables: plantings may include Artichokes, Broad Beans, Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts,
Cauliflower, Carrots, Celery, Kale, Lettuce, Mustards, Onions, Pak Choi, Peas, Spring
Onions and Tomatoes (frost free areas)

Temperate, (includes Sydney, Coastal NSW, and Victoria)

Herbs: plantings May include Basil, Chamomile, Comfrey, Cress, Dill, Coriander, feverfew,
garlic bulbs, lavender, lemon balm, marjoram, mint, mustard, oregano, parsley, sage, shallots,
and thyme.
Vegetables: plantings may include Broad beans, Broccoli, Carrots, Cabbages, Cauliflower,
Cabbage, Kale, Mustards, Peas, Silver-beet Spinach and Chinese greens (for example Pak
choi).

Cool and Southern Highlands (Includes Melbourne, Tasmania and Cool Highlands)

Herbs: Plantings may include Chives, Coriander, Marjoram, Oregano, Parsley, Tarragon and
Thyme.
Vegetables: may include Broad beans, Beetroot, Broccoli, Brussels sprouts Cabbage,
Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Chinese Broccoli, Chinese Cabbage, Endive, Leek, Lettuce,
Onion, Peas, Snow Peas, Silver-beet, Spinach and Radish.

Mediterranean (includes Adelaide and Perth)

Herbs: Plantings may include Basil, Chives, Coriander, Cress, Marjoram, Oregano and
Parsley.
Vegetables may include Broad Beans, Beetroot, Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Carrots
Celery, Kale, Lettuce, Onions, Silver-beet, and Peas.

Finally…


The above information is provided as a general guide only so be sure to research your local
conditions for the best results in your area. Feel free to contact us with any questions you may have or for general advice. And don't forget to sign up to our newsletter for more urban
farming tips.


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Carrot All Seasons

Growing carrots is so easy when you have the right knowledge. Carrots are one of those root crops that can be eaten both cooked and raw. Carrots are one of the more adaptable crops in the home garden, and produce a wonderful vegetable when grown the right way.

Growing carrots in the warmer northern areas of Australia allows you to plant carrot seeds almost all year round, except for the hottest months of summer. In temperate zones, the best time for planting is from July through to March, and in cold districts from August through to February. You can purchase carrots as seedling from garden centres, but they generally don’t transplant well.

Soil preparation

Carrots are a simple crop to grow, and can be really successfully grown in a wide range of soil. As we are dealing with a root vegetable here it’s going to be necessary to get your hands dirty. Rocks, stones and really heavy soil will slow down growth and deform your carrots. Carrots taste best when they are grown really quickly and good soil preparation is paramount. Compost is good and, depending on the carrot varieties you're going to grow, a nice deep topsoil layer is extremely important.

They grow best in deep, crumbly, well-drained soil, which allows the roots to expand and grow quickly. If you live in an area with heavy clay soil, you can improve the condition of your soil before planting by adding manure and garden compost. Growing carrots is best achieved in raised garden beds, 15-20cm above ground level, as water can drain away from the root area to prevent root rot. Carrot seeds should be sown direct.

Planting your seeds

There are lots of varieties of carrot seeds available that mature at different times and by spacing you’re planting times, you can have a supply of fresh carrots on hand almost all year-round.  One of the most important thing to remember is, don’t plant your seeds too deep as they will not germinate. Carrots store well in the ground and it’s better to have too many than not enough so plant several varieties if you have room for them. Ensure to keep the garden bed damp, but not water-logged, until seedlings emerge Try covering your garden bed with hessian and water the hessian a couple of times a day to stop the top of the soil from drying out and remove the hessian once they have germinated. The time it takes for the seeds to germinate depends greatly on the temperature of the soil. After 10 days the seedlings should start to appear. Once seedlings are approximately 4-5cm in height, thin them apart by removing the smaller of the plants.

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Growing Carrots

Water the bed regularly to encourage the development of large tender roots. Additional fertilizer is not needed, but it may be necessary to apply a water soluble fertilizer if your plants are slow to develop.  Be careful don’t apply a high nitrogen based fertilizer, you will get lots of green leafy tops and very small roots. When growing carrots, most varieties will take from 16-20 weeks from sowing to harvest, however baby carrots can be pulled in 10-12 weeks from planting. Pest and disease problems are almost non-existent for carrots apart from the carrot fly. Carrot flies lay their eggs in the young seedlings and their larvae eat and tunnel their way through the growing root. They can be deterred by using plenty of compost as well as by using some good companion plants, like spring onions, to act as decoys. Carrots, like coriander, can bolt, which means they have a tendency to run to seed before producing their roots, generally when unusually cool weather is experienced in early spring.

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Kohlrabi grows as a bulb topped with a rosette of long-stemmed blue-green leaves, making it a very odd looking vegetable. It can be white, green, or purple and has a mild taste that has made it popular in dishes from salads to soups.

Kohlrabi is grown for its swollen base which is actually the plant’s stem and makes it look like a turnip growing on a cabbage root. Kohlrabi is milder and sweeter than either cabbage or turnip and both the globe base and leaves can be eaten. The globe-shaped base develops above the ground making Kohlrabi a good choice for gardens that don’t have deep soils.

Kohlrabi is a hardy biennial grown as an annual. It is a cool-weather crop and should be sown in the garden 3 to 4 weeks before the last average frost date in spring. It grows best in cool temperatures between 4.4°C and 23.9°C and requires 45 to 60 days to reach maturity. In warm winter regions, Kohlrabi should be sown in late summer for a winter harvest. It can withstand an early autumn frost and should be planted in full sun.

For best results, grow Kohlrabi in well-worked, well-drained soil rich in organic matter. Work 2 to 5cm of aged compost into the soil before you begin planting. Seeds can be started indoors, in a cold frame or plastic tunnel. Kohlrabi requires 45 to 60 days to reach maturity and should be grown so that it comes to harvest before temperatures average greater than 23.9°C.

In hot summer areas, you should plan for an autumn harvest. In warm winter regions, you can grow Kohlrabi through the winter. Kohlrabi should be sown in late summer for a winter harvest. Kohlrabi can withstand an early autumn frost. In cold winter regions, sow kohlrabi in summer for early autumn harvest. You can sow kohlrabi seeds as long as temperatures are greater than 4.5°C.

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Cold-weather care

If you are growing kohlrabi for late autumn or winter harvest, protect plants with row covers or a plastic tunnel if night time temperatures below -4°C are predicted. Sow kohlrabi seed 8mm deep and 2.5 cm apart. Thin successful seedlings to 20cm apart. Space rows 45-60 cm apart. Thinned seedlings can be transplanted to another part of the garden.  Grow 6 to 10 plants per person. Companion plants. Beets, celery, herbs, onions, potatoes. Do not plant with pole beans, strawberries or tomatoes.

Quick tips for successfully growing Kohlrabi

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Tight-headed cabbages as well as open-hearted cabbages, such as kale and Asian greens, are all part of the Brassica family and they all enjoy similar growing conditions. These are possibly amongst the most nutritious of all vegetables to eat, and when you eat them fresh from the garden, you get the benefit of their maximum health-giving qualities. For lots of gardeners, a vegetable plot isn’t complete without that ever-dependable staple: the cabbage!

Cabbage Red Acre
Red Acre Cabbage

Shredded into a slaw, stir-fried, steamed or baked, there’s not much you can’t do with cabbage. And with a little planning it’s even possible to enjoy cabbages year-round, by planting a carefully curated succession of varieties suited to each season.

There are a multitude of Cabbage varieties out there now to choose from, they come in different shapes, size, colours and textures.  The Cabbage head or heart can be round or conical, their leaves can be light green, dark green, red or purple. Some varieties have a smooth and almost glossy appearance, while others like the savoy cabbage varieties produce a deeply crinkled leaves that are perfect for mopping up gravies and sauces. Red and Purple varieties are popular for braising and pickling.

Cabbages are moderately easy to grow, they can be grown in most areas of Australia though prefer a cool climate and are best grown Autumn, Winter and Spring as well as Summer in cooler areas. The older the plant, the more tolerant they are to frosts. Provide the seedlings with some frost protection when necessary. As the growing season is much shorter in the tropics, heat tolerant varieties like sugar loaf, fast growing Asian varieties like Pak Choi and Wombok are the better options. Traditional European varieties are slow growing and need a long cool season to head properly. In Sub-tropical areas plant in April to take advantage of the 4 or 5 months of cooler weather. Protect from heat by shading the plants to extend the growing season.

Cabbages like full sun or at least 6 hours a day if possible and protect from strong wind. Like all Brassicas, cabbages love a rich, well drained soil to thrive. They are heavy feeders so add plenty of compost, well-rotted manure, incorporate some additional fertilizer, a bit of blood and bone and they also love some sulphate of potash. The ideal Ph for cabbages is 6.5 to 7.5 if your soil is acidic add some lime and water in as well.

Cabbage Chinese Michihili
Chinese Michihili Cabbage

Cabbages are easy to germinate from seeds, so this gives you a wide selection to choose from. Some gardeners like to raise seedlings in trays while others prefer to plant directly where they are to be grown. Plant in a well-prepared garden bed placing seeds twice as thick as required. Plant the seeds about 5mm deep, water and keep moist until the seeds have germinated. Thin out and transplant the ones that you don’t want.

For European varieties, plant 60 to 80cm apart, Chinese varieties 40 to 50cm apart, Kale 40 to 50cm apart and Pak Choi 20 to 30cm apart.

Cabbages love a feed, water regularly or they won’t be happy. Lightly fertilize about 3 weeks after planting then once a month till the end of the season.

Harvest hearting cabbages when the hearts are firm generally at 10 to 14 weeks, use a sharp knife to cut and remove the head deep into the plant , sometimes the plant may then give a you another head on the existing plant. Begin harvesting Kale as soon as the leaves are big enough, this encourages more leaves to grow. Remove the outer leaves first leaving some leaves behind, this allows the Kale plant to continue to grow.

Asian greens like Pak Choi and Bok Choy can be harvested at 6 weeks by either removing the whole plant, or just taking the older leaves to extend the life of the plant. Tatsoi (Chinese flat cabbage can also be harvested like kale by removing the older leaves for up to  6months during ideal growing seasons.

The above information is provided as a general guide only so be sure to research your local conditions for the best results in your area. Feel free to contact us with any questions you may have or for general advice. And don't forget to sign up to our newsletter for more urban farming tips.

Happy farming!

Autumn is a beautiful time of year here in Australia. Spanning the months of March through to May, it is a great time to plant many different types of vegetables and herbs, depending on your local climate.

Australia is a big country with varied landscapes and climates and is divided into roughly 6 climate zones:

  1. Sub-tropical (includes South east QLD and Northern NSW)
  2. Wet and Dry Tropics (includes North QLD, NT and WA)
  3. Dry Inland (includes Arid and Outback areas)
  4. Temperate (including Sydney, Coastal NSW and Victoria)
  5. Cool and Southern Tablelands (including Melbourne, Tasmania and cool Highlands)
  6. Mediterranean (Adelaide and Perth).
Climate Zones based on temperature and humidity. Courtesy of http://www.bom.gov.au/jsp/ncc/climate_averages/climate-classifications/index.jsp?maptype=tmp_zones#maps
Climate Zones based on temperature and humidity. Image courtesy of http://www.bom.gov.au/jsp/ncc/climate_averages/climate-classifications/index.jsp?maptype=tmp_zones#maps

What grows well in one area may not reach its full potential in another area and vice versa. Doing a bit of research to find out what grows well in your area certainly pays off in the long run so I have included a general guide below as to what you should plant in your zone for Autumn.

Local Knowledge is also an important source of reference, so look around and ask other urban farmers you know what they recommend planting. Over time, locals will have tried planting all sorts of different things and will know what has worked in the past and what wasn't so successful.

Sub-tropical (South East QLD and Northern NSW)

Herbs: Plantings may include Basil, Chervil, Chicory, Coriander, Fennel, Lavender, Marjoram, Oregano, Parsley, Rocket, Sage, Sorrel, Thyme and Winter Tarragon.

Vegetables: Plantings may include Broad Beans, Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Lettuce, Onions, Peas, Spring Onions, Spinach (Chard) and Tomatoes in frost free areas.

Wet and Dry Tropical (includes North QLD, NT and WA).

Herbs: Plantings may include Basil, Coriander, Chives, Marjoram, Oregano, Parsley, Thyme and Winter Tarragon

Vegetables: Plantings may include Beans Beetroot, Cabbage, Capsicum, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Chinese Cabbages, Egg plants, lettuce, Mustards, Onions, Pumpkins, Silver-beet, Squash, Sweet Corn and Tomatoes.

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Dry Inland (includes Arid and Outback Areas)

Herbs: Plantings may include Basil, Chervil, Chives, Chicory, Coriander, Dill, Fennel, Marjoram, Mustards, Oregano, Parsley, Sage, Sorrel, Thyme and Winter Tarragon.

Vegetables: plantings may include Broad Beans, Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Cauliflower, Carrots, Celery, Kale, Lettuce, Mustards, Onions, Pak Choi, Peas, Spring Onions and Tomatoes.

Temperate, (includes Sydney, Coastal NSW, and Victoria)

Herbs: plantings May include Basil, Coriander, Marjoram, Oregano, Parsley, Thyme and Winter Tarragon.

Vegetables: plantings may include Broad beans, Carrots, Cauliflower, Cabbage,  Kale, Mustards, Peas.

Cool and Southern Highlands (Includes Melbourne, Tasmania and Cool Highlands)

Herbs: Plantings may include Chives, Coriander, Marjoram, Oregano, Parsley, Spring Onions, Tarragon and Thyme.

Vegetables: may include Broad beans, Beetroot, Broccoli, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Chinese Broccoli, Chinese Cabbage, Lettuce, Mustards, Onions and Silver-beets.

Mediterranean (includes Adelaide and Perth)

Herbs: Plantings may include Basil, Chives, Coriander, Marjoram, Oregano and Parsley.

Vegetables may include Broccoli, Cabbage, broad Beans, Cauliflower, Celery, Silver-beet, Lettuce and Peas.

Finally…

The above information is provided as a general guide only so be sure to research your local conditions for the best results in your area. Feel free to contact us with any questions you may have or for general advice. And don't forget to sign up to our newsletter for more urban farming tips.

Happy farming!

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