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In warmer districts, where no more frosts are expected, runner and butter beans can be sown. In most gardens, it is better to delay growing these tender vegetables outdoors and to get seed started under cover. This is also true of sweet corn and outdoor tomatoes.
From the time they germinate, runner beans, such as Scarlet Runner, take 90 days to mature, while dwarf or butter beans will produce crops in 60 days. The latter are generally recommended for smaller gardens but a few runner beans can be grown anywhere they can climb.
If sowing them in their permanent position, put runner bean seeds about 5cm apart around a bean teepee or against the netting or trellis they are to climb. Pinching out the tips to make bushier plants is a waste of effort, as it reduces the crop.
Plant out cabbages, cauliflower, lettuces, parsley and silverbeet, and check that autumn-sown broad beans have adequate support.
Sow spinach where it is to mature.
Sow white turnips, spring onions and quick-maturing mini beetroot. Small beetroot plants can be transplanted to fill gaps. Main-crop beetroot can be sown next month. Turnips and beetroot should not be grown in soil where traces of animal manure remain, as this causes the roots to fork.
Main crop potatoes can be planted now in areas that experience hot summers. In cooler districts, wait until next month.
Many spring-flowering shrubs are pruned as soon as they have finished blooming. This is so the plants can make new growth over summer and autumn, as it is on this new wood that they flower next season.
Winter roses (Helleborus) can be divided this month. They do better in semi-shade rather than full shade, and can be boosted with leaf mould or well-rotted cow manure.
Lawns can be planted or renewed now. Rake any bare patches to give a slightly rough surface, then scatter with a lawn-grass mix usually chewings fescue and brown top seed in a 2:1 ratio then cover with fine soil and press down lightly.
Raspberries put in over winter should be cut back to 30cm above the ground to encourage new stems (canes) to grow over summer for a better crop next year. This treatment is also recommended for blackberries, tayberries, boysenberries, loganberries and marionberries.
New blackcurrant bushes should be pruned to about 25cm above the ground, but red and white currants need only to have last season’s growth trimmed by about half. This growth is identified by its lighter bark. Gooseberries are pruned in the same way as redcurrants.