February is my favourite month because its crazy harvest time. We have been busy picking and eating tomatoes eggplants capsicums zucchinis and cucumbers and today I am picking the basil which is starting to go to seed as the weather cools to make some pesto. It will be stored in jars in the fridge with a little olive oil on top to keep it fresh (I can use some and top up with oil). Our melons are ripening up nicely and the pears are ready, the quinces are next. The strawberries are delightful and nearly finished.
Now it is time to start preparing for the autumn/winter garden. As I start to pull up the tomatoes I check for signs of root-knot nematodes. If they come up without the knobbly bits they are clear (its normal for peas and beans they are nitrogen fixing nodules).
Don’t rush into planting. I am now ready to add amendments to get the next crops started nicely. If the soil feels compact, I lightly fork it. Many cool season vegies like slightly alkaline soil so I throw in some wood ash or garden lime (dolomite lime is great and can be bought from the Altona beach market mulches and manures seller the lovely Theo). Let that settle for a week or so before adding fertilisers. It is best to wait because otherwise the 2 could react chemically to release nitrogen into the air.
I like to mix it up and use different ones. This time I am putting in cow manure but also like to use chicken or sheep manure, blood and bone or also pelletised chook manure is great and cheap (dynamic lifter is fantastic from Bunnings or Coles). Also some compost could help if it has been quite dry as it is “hummusy” organic matter that helps retain water.
The beds I prepare will soon be planted up with the brassicas such as brussel sprouts broccolis and cauliflowers (I’m growing mini ones this time) as well as cabbage spinach and red Russian kale and some silver beet. I highly recommend planting some dill there too to repel the awful cabbage white butterfly which is the pest to fight against in the brassica family. They hate it! Also marigold and nasturtiums are really good as usual.
I will be planting broad beans again in March as we love them for dips and other recipes. Will be sprinkling a little more lime as they love it greatly.
So it does take some thinking and planning for my winter garden because I like to rotate crops or at least I will make sure that I don’t plant the broccoli and cauliflower where it was last year. I look at pictures and have a garden plan book to remember. These are pictures of the front yard before I decided that I needed more room and dug out the whole lawn.