Peas can still be sown and dwarf varieties, such as Novella,
will produce plump pods in nine to 11 weeks from sowing.
Greenfeast takes 11 to 13 weeks.
Peas do best in trenches filled with rich soil and compost
topped with ordinary soil. Add 50g of superphosphate for
every metre of the row and keep the top of the filled-in
trench a little below ground level. This will help keep the
peas' roots moist longer after watering if conditions become
dry later in the season.
If the trench method is not used, good garden peas can be
grown in any rich, moist soil.
Like peas, celery and leeks can be planted in heavily
fertilised trenches topped with soil.
Brussels sprouts put in now will give an early crop for
picking in late autumn. Another planting at New Year will
mature over the winter and through to early spring.
Late-season potatoes, such as Rua, Moonlight, Red Rascal,
Heather and Agria, should go in as soon as possible.
Choose a sunny, moist (not wet) spot with plenty of compost
to feed the potato plants.
Animal manure that has not rotted completely will give
potatoes scabby-looking skins.
Main-crop carrot and beetroot seed can be sown.
Cucumbers and pumpkins can be planted now throughout the
South. These plants demand extremely rich soils and warm
Lettuce, radishes, mustard streaks, mizuna, miners lettuce
(Claytonia), mesclun mixes and other salad crops can be sown
now, as well as Asian greens such as pak choi, tatsoi and hon
tsai tai turnips, kohl rabi and spinach. Swedes, rarely seen
in the home garden now, should be sown where they are to
mature. Swedes, beetroot and kohl rabi can be transplanted
fairly successfully to fill gaps in rows, but it is a waste
of time trying this with carrots, white or golden turnips or
parsnips, as they seldom survive.
Violas and pansies will flower over a longer period and the
quality of the blooms will be better if deadheaded regularly.
This also prevents hundreds of seedlings later, often of
so-so colour. When the flowers start losing their quality,
cutting the plants back a few centimetres above ground level
can prompt new growth and more flowers in a surprisingly
Wallflowers, forget-me-nots and other spring-blooming plants
that have finished flowering can be pulled up and spaces made
for summer annuals.
Calendula, nasturtium, Cosmos and cornflower plants also do
well in poor, dry soils as long as they get plenty of sun.
Newer calendulas include some bicolours; Black Velvet is the
darkest maroon nasturtium; Cosmos Seashells (mainly pink and
mauve shades) have fluted edges, while Cosmos Cosmic Orange
and Cosmic Yellow have intense colours ideal for a hot colour
scheme; and Frosted Queens are double cornflowers whose
petals are tipped with white or pastel contrasts.
Hyacinths, tulips and narcissi can be lifted now and, keeping
the yellowing foliage intact, planted in pots to ripen off.
When the foliage has completely died, bulbs can be lifted,
cleaned and stored.
Outdoor tomatoes should be making strong growth. Keep side
shoots pinched out, stake as required and do not overwater at
this stage if soil moisture is plentiful.
Russian Red, Black from Tula and Purple Russian are
cold-tolerant tomatoes that can be grown without protection,
although they do best if sheltered from cold winds.
When the fruit begins to swell, mulch the ground under the
tomato plants with straw to keep the soil warm overnight.
Apple trees sometimes have a fluffy white growth, American
blight. It is actually an excrescence produced by a type of
aphid (Schizoneura lanigera) to protect itself and can be
spread by strong winds.
Methylated spirits or kerosene rubbed on the fluff kills the
bugs. Because the aphids often drop to the ground, it is
important to keep the soil clear for birds to do their work
or, alternatively, rake in a soil fumigant to kill the