Summer's gone and ideal growing conditions are upon us
EASTER has been celebrated for thousands of years, well before it became such an important part of the Christian liturgical calendar. It seems it has its roots in ancient times, when the Saxons celebrated the return of spring with a festival commemorating their goddess of offspring and of springtime, Eastre.
And although here Easter falls at the start of autumn, rather than the start of spring, I think that the pagan concepts of rebirth and renewal are particularly apt for those of us who garden in warm climates.
I for one find that summer is the "downtime'' in my garden. By the end of summer, particularly a hot dry summer like we had this year, my garden looks exhausted. Although I try to keep everything well-mulched I usually lose a few plants if we have prolonged periods without rain. So there are gaps in garden beds, and my herb and vegetable garden is less productive than I would like.
With Easter comes the onset of milder autumnal weather, bringing with it the opportunity for garden renewal and rejuvenation. It is absolutely the best time to establish new garden beds, plant trees (including fruit trees), sow lawns, and, of course, grow food. And if you want to move plants about in your garden, or divide perennials, now's the time.
We are just at the beginning of about six months of perfect growing weather.
Our beautiful mild winters are much more conducive to growing plants. Of course, there are a few plants that you may not be able to grow through winter, but there is no better time for major gardening projects.
You can feed the entire garden now without worrying that the tender new growth that follows will be scorched in the heat. You can plant trees, even large, established specimens, safe in the knowledge that they will have a good six months to settle in and develop a nice strong root system before the heat of summer is back. You can prune shrubs and hedges, and feed them, to encourage fresh, luxurious new growth.
In the vegetable garden, it's time to plant kale, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, spinach, silverbeet, lettuce, carrots, beetroot, peas, snowpeas and broad beans.
You can grow tomatoes through winter here too, without the pests and diseases that may bother them in summer. Potatoes and garlic can go in now, too.
Plant cool season flowers like violas and primulas, as well as spring-flowering bulbs including daffodils, jonquils and irises.