Spring is springing and we can't wait to get out into the September sunshine and spruce up our gardens. So what's good to plant this month?
Melissa King, horticulturist and Northcote Pottery ambassador, shares her top picks for what to plant as we move out of winter.
Come spring, tomato planting is top of mind for avid veggie growers, but be sure to wait until the risk of frost has passed in your area before getting seedlings into the patch. Take some time to prepare beds first, with plenty of organic matter and a sprinkling of lime before planting.
Among the modern choices, it’s worth getting your hands on Tomato ‘Pink Pearl’, which boasts trusses of sweet, juicy cherry-sized fruit that change colour from green to pink and deep crimson-pink when ripe. Grow this variety for a bumper crop and to support the National Breast Cancer Research Foundation.
‘Truss Plum’, is another tasty type, with masses of sweet plum-shaped tomatoes, small enough for children to pop into their mouths whole. ‘Candyland’ is another favourite with the kids, producing masses of tiny tomatoes, which make healthy lunch-box snacks.
If old-fashioned flavour appeals to you, why not try your hand at growing one (or more) of the tantalising heirloom varieties. ‘Tommy Toe’ is a ripper, with cherry red fruit that packs a real flavour punch. You’ll also love Tomato ‘Jaune Flamme’ - a French heirloom with pretty orange tomatoes packed with beta-carotene or ‘Broad Ripple Yellow Cur’, which produces hundreds of tasty bite-sized yellow tomatoes. ‘Green Zebra’ is a personal favourite, with green and yellow striped fruit that brings real wow-factor to the garden and the plate.
If you’re lacking space, try growing bush or trailing varieties in pots and containers. Tomato ‘Cherry Fountain’ is a great performer in pots, with bite-sized red fruit that's bursting with flavour. Its cascading habit makes it perfect for decorative pots or hanging baskets for a fiery display of edible colour.
Decorate outdoor rooms
Now's the perfect time to prepare your garden for the party season and decorate outdoor living areas with vibrant splashes of annual colour. In spring, the focus turns to plants which flower profusely through the warmer months, like petunias, vincas, marigolds and impatiens, just to name a few.
Plant them now as seedlings and you’ll have masses of flower in as little as six weeks' time. Be sure to liquid feed every two weeks and cut off faded flowers for a lengthy display of colour.
Annuals shine in lightweight decorative pots that can be moved around the garden for a dash of seasonal colour where you need it most. Try growing baby pink impatiens in stone-coloured pots for a cooling combination in part shade or ramp up the colour factor with petunias in all of the rainbow shades in blue pots.
Homegrown fruit salad
If you dream about baking a homegrown cherry pie or nipping out into the garden to harvest your fruit salad, then get some fruit trees into the garden this spring.
Turn to mini trees and you won’t need a lot of space to produce a bountiful crop. Try growing Peach ‘Pixzee’, which grows to just one-and-a-half metres tall and produces a big crop of full-sized yellow-fleshed peaches or ‘Nectarzee’, which produces a hearty crop of juicy nectarines on a pint-sized tree. There are also mini cherries, like ‘Black Cherree’, with delicious red fruit on a tree growing to two-and-a-half metres tall or the beautiful white-fleshed ‘White Cherree’.
Among the mini citrus, look out for Lime ‘Sublime’, which produces loads of full-sized Tahitian limes on a petite tree or ‘Lots a Lemons’, a dwarf variety that produces masses of sweet zesty Meyer Lemons. Choose a sunny spot in the garden or grow them in decorative pots on the patio or balcony.