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Roots and Perennials Days in Late Summer

Roots and perennials planting days from today through to Tuesday afternoon. This is a good time of year for planting perennials in my part of the world. We are past the frizzle days of high summer, but still enough time left for things to establish before going into winter dormancy, and be really ready to take off in spring. We are also coming into what is traditionally our wet season, though in this La Ninã year, that really isn’t a factor. The ground is so wet, it’s even a disincentive.  Although, I guess,  if you’re planting a tree that will be there for hundreds of years, it’s not a bad thing to see the potential planting sites at their extremes.

I’m not really ready for this planting break – it’s been so busy since Christmas – I’ve been chasing my tail. I haven’t got seed potatoes, and I need to visit the local nursery for trees, and the very wet weather has not been kind to my carrot seedlings. Every time I look at the garden, I see so much wanting doing. But I’ve learned that if I just get out an do something, at least on the planting days, I can keep production happening even in the frantically busy start to the year, and avoid that spot in three months time when the chickens of missed plantings come home to roost.

So today I’ll plant out these beetroot babies, and the survivors of the carrots – there’s enough of them to bridge the gap. I’ll get some spots ready for potatoes. We don’t eat spuds every meal. Too many carbohydrates for people who don’t do physical work all day, and who aren’t (deliberately anyhow!) growing. But home grown new season fresh spuds are a gourmet delight, a treat, and for a month or so, a couple of times a year, they’re worth the calories. The November harvest, of the spuds planted in August is the smaller harvest.  It heats up early in spring here, and the hot weather slows down their storage of carbohydrates. The second harvest, in May of spuds planted now is usually the bigger one. So tomorrow I’ll get some seed spuds and if I have the spots all ready for them it will only take a few minutes to pop them in.

I’ll put in another round of carrots and spring onions and beets, and also a dozen pots of parsnips using the same technique as the carrots.  I’m not in an ideal climate for parsnips – they like it cooler for longer than we get. But they are one of my very favourite vegetables so I persevere. They take around 5 months to be harvestable,  and the best ones are those harvested in winter, which means planting in summer. But they’re trickier to germinate than carrots, specially in hot dry weather, and if it’s too wet, they won’t like it either. But if I’m lucky, I may get some ready for harvesting from midwinter on.

And I may just manage a visit to the local nursery on Tuesday on my way through town. We really don’t need more fruit trees, but it’s tempting.

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{ 8 comments… add one }
  • Jode February 13, 2012, 9:10 am

    I’m trying to find the enthusiasm for the vegie garden at the moment…between the alternating heavy showers and hot days i don’t think it knows what its doing and neither do i, lol!
    Great info as usual thanks….any tip for potato growing? We only ever seem to get a few from the one seed potato even though we have tried so many methods! I seem to have rampant sweet potato leaves everywhere now but not sure when they are ready!
    Good luck with your parsnips…i have no luck with carrots so not even going to try parsnips then, lol!

  • Feargal February 13, 2012, 3:55 pm

    I look forward to reading your future blogs of harvesting massive carrots and beetroots. My first lot of carrots and beetroots came along really well, only to be eaten right back by possums. My solution has been to put branches all over the garden beds and they seem to have kept them away from the seedlings so far. Do you find that wildlife tend to leave the vegetables alone once they reach a certain age or size? or are they at risk their whole life?

  • Linda February 14, 2012, 8:16 am

    Sorry to tell you Feargal, but my experience has been that it goes from bad to worse!

  • Linda February 14, 2012, 11:28 am

    Hi Jode, you’re in Northern NSW too aren’t you? We’re not a perfect climate for spuds. They’re naturally a high altitude plant. They need long days of sunlight to do enough photosynthesis to produce all those calories, but they like cool, even cold, but frost free nights. The closer you get to the ocean, the more the temperatures are moderated – good for humans, bad for spuds. I find my February -March planted crop does better. The days are still long enough and as we come into the cooler weather, the crop increases. Otherwise, the standard advice is: use certified seed potatoes – spuds carry a virus that reduces yield in successive generations, provide lots of nutrients, and hill up the plants with soil, compost or mulch to force them to grow taller. With sweet potatoes, I treat mine as a perennial, and just dig one up when I want one. But conventionally, they are harvested in autumn. Look for a spot where several stems come out of the ground and dig there.

  • Jode February 14, 2012, 2:31 pm

    Thanks for all that info Linda…yep we are lismore so far north…interesting to know about our climate and spuds…we will keep trying as the taste of the supermarket ones are just awful at the moment….keep trying to stock up at the farmer’s market but it depends what they have at the time!
    I shall have to go and check the sweet potatoes then…the twins are eating sweet potato and pumpkin by the bucketload (have to hide the greens in them!) so really want to try and get a good crop of them!
    Thanks again for the tips!

  • Feargal February 19, 2012, 5:17 pm

    I am finding that you are not wrong about that! the most heartbreaking thing is that the possums will leave the plants for awhile, and then I think ha! now they are to big, and then come the next morning, all my cucumbers are gone! I have decided I will do as you have done and fence off the garden beds as best as possible.
    So far though they haven’t touched the Cabbage related plants or the leeks and onions, though I am not sure if this is because they aren’t interested in them or I have protected them well enough with branches scattered over the top. They also haven’t bothered the corn, which is now about 3 weeks old.

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