What to plant now (July in Melbourne and other cool temperate parts of Australia)
- Veggies: It’s truly cold now, but there’s still hope for new plantings. Don’t expect them to move fast until spring, but you can plant cabbage, asian greens like mizuna, tatsoi or pak choi, lettuce, rocket, spinach, mustards, spring onions, leek, onions, radish and parsely. Put some sweet peas in the ground and watch them climb.
- Winter bulbs and crowns: It’s now time to buy asparagus and rhubarb crowns, and although a little late, organic garlic cloves for a summer harvest. Consider Jerusalem artichokes, square metre for square metre the most productive energy crop for our climate (although some find the taste less good than potatoes.)
- Bareroot fruit trees: Bareroot fruit trees are now filling the nurseries. It’s a cheap way to establish fruit trees in your backyard, and when they are dormant is the best time to plant. You need to prune them back hard — to no more than a single upright sometimes. You want a similar amount of above ground plant as root when you’re done. Contact us for help. We recommend Ceres (www.ceres.org.au) and Bulleen Art and Garden nurseries (www.baag.com.au) to get a hold of all your dormant food crops.
- Green manures: Since nothing grows too fast anyway, you might consider planting a cover crop to dig in to the soil come spring time. This time of year try broad bean (buy them in bulk as fava beans from Middle Eastern groceries), field pea, oats and wheat.
Fertilising, mulching and watering
- There’s no longer as much need to water. If there extended dry spells, water less often still long and deeply. If you’re a customer with an automated tap timer, consider turning the tap off after rain, and turning it back on in dry spells.
- With overcast winter weather upon us we can consider raking up mulch to expose the dark soil, allowing it to warm up under day’s sunshine. However be sure to return it by mid spring.
- There’s generally not much need to fertilise at this time of year, as plants are growing slowly or dormant.
- Just as the plants are growing slowly, so too are the pests. So you can take a break. If you’re seeing aphids or cabbage white fly caterpillars though, consult May’s advice.