Timing and conditions in which to plant are very important

The second lot of seedlings was planted on the 18th of April; brussels sprouts, silverbeet and brown onions. This was actually a bit late to be planting them, and also the quality of the seedlings was not as good as the broccoli and cabbages we planted earlier. Ideally, they should have been in the ground by the end of March. Also, the ground was not as well prepared – for the previous planting we had covered the ground with straw a week before planting, and it was nice and moist.

On the day of planting the second lot of seedlings, the ground was very dry and had not been covered. I put the sprinkler on it for a couple of hours, and covered it with straw before I planted, which was the best I could do, as the seedlings had already been sitting for a week and were quite straggly; they had to go in the ground that day and could not sit for another week. As I expected, they are not doing anywhere near as well as the first lot planted 6 weeks before.

The photos below show the comparison. Photo 1 is the first planting we did early March, and Photo 2 is the last bed planted early/mid-April.

Photo 1

Photo 2

The silverbeet (picture at top of this article) will probably survive, and most of the onions also. About half of the brussels sprout seedlings are at the moment surviving, but we will probably loose most/all of them when the first frost hits, as they are not well enough established to survive frost. The broccoli and cabbage will be fine with the frost, as they are well-established and very healthy. As they are in good condition, they will actually benefit from a frost; the frost motivates them to flower which produces the heads and sweetens the taste.

This all goes to show how important timing; soil condition and quality of seedling is. The timing is particularly important in an area such as Uralla, where we go quite quickly from sunny warm weather at the end of summer, to frost in mid-autumn. The sunny weather is needed for the plants to get well-established before the frost, and the cold is needed for the plants to produce the required heads. Of course, only winter plants such as brassicas, silverbeet and onions can be planted in frost-prone areas. Carrots and lettuce and other typical winter vegetables can also be planted in this area, as long as there is a well-sheltered environment that is not too heavily affected by frost.

Some volunteers put out a couple of rows of random seeds about a month ago. The most successful of these were rocket, and a few lettuces have also come up. As these germinated from seed, and are doing quite well, they should be fine over winter.

At the end of the day, I harvested some yellow crookneck zucchinis and some radishes for the Neighbourhood Centre Pantry.

In the following weeks we will be cleaning up the garden, and preparing the next section of planting beds for the spring planting. Also we will be giving the fruit trees some attention so that we will get a good crop of different fruits for the Neighbourhood Centre Pantry.