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Roots and Perennials Planting Days in Late Summer

Today is a roots and perennials planting day, the first of the autumn wet season. I’m planting runners of sweet potatoes where they will ramble down the bank, a new spot because they have been in the old spot for a couple of years now and will become susceptible to nematodes if I leave them there too much longer.

I’ve picked a spot inside my fortress fence because the wallabies love the vines and graze them to death.

I should have planted them earlier but it was so dry. Sweet potatoes need a long hot growing season, so this is the last planting I will get in before the days get too short and cool for them. But these should be ready to dig before the first frosts in June. A commercial grower would dig the lot, but I will just keep harvesting them as I need them for a few years before I establish a new site again. They’re a great yield for very little effort.

I should also have planted the Jerusalem artichokes a while ago – they’ll only just get time to do their thing now.  But I have been holding advanced seedlings in the shadehouse waiting for the ground to be wet enough.  Artichoke soup is one of my winter favourites, and they are in the super foods list because, as well as containing decent amounts of iron, potassium and thiamine, their carbohydrate is in a form called inulin that is really slow to digest .  That means they are filling, low calorie, low GI, and they feed the healthy gut bacteria further along the digestive system.

I’m also planting potatoes – Nicola this time just for a change. They’re a good all round variety, and specially good for salads. We don’t eat a huge amount of potatoes – we don’t do enough hard physical work to justify the calories – but new season freshly dug potatoes are a treat rather than a staple. I can plant potatoes in very early spring and very early autumn, but the autumn ones do better – they like the cooler nights as they are setting spuds.

It’s also cool and moist enough to plant carrots and parsnips again with some expectation that they’ll survive, and we eat a lot of parsnips.  They are half the calories and half the glycemic load of potatoes.  I put in another round of beetroot and welsh red bunching onion every month. It’s too early yet though for bulbing onions or garlic. They will decide they have enough time before winter to bolt straight to seed without setting a crop.

The main excitement of the day though is in the orchard not the garden (though I mingle the two). This is the very best fruit tree planting day of the whole year, with the ground wet, our wet season ahead, and the chance of killer heat days now low, but still enough months of warm weather left for trees to establish before winter dormancy.

I have tamarillos and paw paws to go in, but I’m really looking forward to getting home from work to plant two new fruit trees.

Our neighbours have been harvesting masses of Jaboticabas this year. You are unlikely to find them in the supermarket because they don’t store or travel well, but the fruit is a lovely sweet cross between a lychee and a grape in a tannin-y skin, and it grows on a very attractive small, bushy tree. I’ve become addicted to them, and I have a grafted tree to go in.

I also like the look of dragon fruit (pitaya) – Julie at Towards Sustainability posted a picture just recently, and they look and sound wonderful. So I’m going to plant a couple of them too.  Enough writing.  I’m off planting.

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