A wide variety of vegetables can be sown now, so that they will be ready for harvest during spring and summer.
Asparagus, potatoes, beans, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and onion varieties can all be sown now.
Asparagus should be planted out as crowns, while they are still dormant. They require deep, rich soil for optimum production. At planting time the crowns can be placed into furrows about 20cm deep and 30cm wide.
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The crowns should be placed onto a small mound so that the roots can be spread out evenly, pointing downwards. Compost, to a depth of 7.5cm can then be applied. Plants should be spaced about 45cm apart, leaving just over a metre between each row, if multiple rows are being planted out.
As the plants begin to shoot and growth occurs, the trench can then be gradually filled in. Spears produced by the plant in the first year should be allowed to go to seed, rather than be harvested, as this will strengthen the plant and allow it to be much more productive in subsequent seasons.
Potatoes can be planted as seed potatoes, smaller potatoes which have an "eye". The eye is a part that will shoot and form stems that reach to the soil's surface. It is preferable to purchase seed potatoes from a reliable supplier as these will be disease-free.
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New potatoes form underneath the potato seed. Prior to planting out the potatoes, the garden bed should be dug deeply and blood and bone or manure added to the soil. Adding phosphorus will help the plants form a good crop, while nitrogen will only encourage the production of leaves.
The potatoes can be planted about 15cm deep, ensuring they are away from sunlight, as this will result in the formation of toxic green areas on the potatoes. Once the potatoes have been placed into their holes they can be covered with soil, although using composted leaves, lucerne hay or well-dried lawn clippings should give better results.
Extra layers of potatoes will be obtained if the new shoots have extra soil added to them as they emerge from the surface of the soil. If the original planting takes place in a more confined structure, with a type of wall used, then it is easy to add more soil, leaving the uppermost several centimetres of the shoots above the surface. At harvest time, the soil should be full of potatoes. This will occur after the plants have flowered and the flowers have then died down.
Aspidistra, the Cast-iron plant, has for many years been one of the preferred plants for indoor areas, requiring little in the way of attention while maintaining a healthy green, growth.
However, over recent years, other plants have become more popular, particularly with the placing of plants in offices.
The Peace Lily has found a place in many indoors areas as it produces glossy green leaves and pure white, hooded flowers. Plants grow to between 30 and 40cm high. With the right conditions, Peace lilies will flower throughout the year. Flowers will form if the plant has been placed into a position of quite low light, although more light will improve flowering.
The leaves on the plant will droop if it requires watering. Pelleted fertilisers that have been developed for indoor plants may be used, although indoor plants grow quite slowly and have lower feeding requirements.
The Zanzibar Gem is a more recent development in plants that are most suitable for growing indoors. It can be seen in many offices. Its glossy, waxy, green leaves appear as a cross between palms and ferns. They are divided into a number of smaller leaflets. New leaves first appear as upright spikes that gradually unfold to reveal the leaflets.
Zanzibar Gem originates from Africa, where it grows in dry, shaded sites and is tolerant of periods of neglect.
Its main requirements are being kept in a warmer position and not being over-watered. Plants tolerate positions of low light, although, as with most other plants, a brightly lit indoor area will produce the better plant. If it is required to grow the plant in an area of poorer light, it may be preferable to have two plants and interchange them between areas of better and poorer lighting. Leaves can be kept clean by occasionally wiping them with a damp cloth. Care should be taken to wash hands well after handling a Zanzibar Gem as parts of the plant are considered poisonous, particularly if ingested.
Macadamia nuts are one of the more popular varieties because of their versatility. They can be eaten raw but also provide a tasty addition in many recipes.
Macadamias are native to the subtropical east coast of Australia and are regarded by some as being the best quality nut in the world. Two edible species are grown. Macadamia tetraphylla originates from northern NSW and Macadamia integrifolia, from SE Queensland, make up most of the commercial varieties.
Macadamia trees can be grown from seed as well as cuttings. However, grafted varieties will usually produce the best results, in a much shorter time frame.
Trees can reach 15 metres in height, although new, dwarf varieties are now available. These are suitable where available space is limited. The dwarf varieties produce a large crop of smaller sized nuts. They should be grown in large pots.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
- Reduce watering of indoor plants and cacti, checking the soil prior to applying the water.
- New grape vines should be pruned from their first year by cutting all stems except for one shoot with two buds.
- Liliums can be lifted, divided and re-planted, applying a good quality compost to the soil for feeding.