Gardening advice for every season

Gardening advice for every season

What to grow in every season in Melbourne, and the south-eastern area of Australia. Gardening advice for growing fruit and vegetables in your backyard.

CERES seasonal planting guide is the perfect tool to help you decide what fruits and vegetables to plant in Melbourne and around Victoria. Find out where to put your energy in the garden for the current month, or do a bit of planning for the coming seasons.

In summer there are delights and challenges that face the home gardener.

The delight of seeing your spring plantings take shape in the summer sun and the pleasure of harvesting those first tomatoes and zucchinis, tempered by the challenge of keeping plants alive and looking good under extreme heat conditions. Here are a few ways to cope and stay cool and happy in the process.

  • Ensure that you have mulched adequately. Mulch will protect the soil from heat and keep roots cool and moist. It also encourages earthworms and other soil friends to rise to the surface and improve the soil.
  • Water at the base of the plant. Direct the water where it needs to go and avoid damaging foliage, encouraging fungal problems and waste.
  • Water early or late. Watering in the middle of the day is not effective but if you need to do it sometimes go right ahead. Water pot plants every single day.
  • Drape bed sheets over plants on very hot days to prevent burnt foliage and damaged fruit. The sun will burn ripe tomatoes and other vegetables. Putting up a shade umbrella in the afternoon will also help.
  • Don’t try to garden in the heat! Relax and save gardening for the morning or evening and not at all on very hot days. Create a cool shady spot in the garden from which you can observe and plan what exciting things you’ll do in autumn.

It’s a good time to get out in the cooler parts of the day to check out front gardens and porches in the neighbourhood.

What’s growing well? What size do things grow? What’s flowering now? What combination of plants work well? There is still potential for hot spells that could shrivel your final harvests for the season- so keep an eye on the bureau! In February we are still enjoying the fruits of our summer plantings while also picking up the pieces of a sun ravaged and possibly holiday neglected garden. It’s a great time for clearing out spent crops, weeding paths and perennial plantings, and pruning and tidying up natives. For the keen seed savers it is also time to select and mark the disease free fruits and plants for seed saving next month. Midjem berries (Austromyrtus dulcis) and Lemon Myrtle (Backhousia citriodoria) are flowering now, and finger limes are slowly ripening but not ready to pick till late March or April for optimum flavour. If you didn’t get any berries on your Muntries bush (Kunzea pomifera) this year test the pH as they like a neutral to slightly alkaline soil and you could try adding some lime to improve flowering and fruiting next year.

  • Weeding around garden beds and in among summer plantings will allow for better air flow and less competition for moisture with crops. This will help prevent diseases and prolong the harvest time of summer veg.
  • Powdery mildew is unavoidably creeping onto the zucchinis and other cucurbits such as watermelons and pumpkins. Pruning off the worst affected leaves, maintaining soil moisture and using a milk spray can prevent further infestation so you get the best out of these crops.
  • It’s forecasted to be a cooler autumn so best not to dilly-dally to much on getting your beds prepped and next seasons crops started.
  • Planting! You can continue to plant leafy greens, Asian greens, parsley, coriander and dill so that you can keep eating them! Plant broccoli, spring onion, leek, kale, Cauliflower and Celery. You can start on early garlic varieties like Tasmanian Purple and Spanish Roja.
  • If you are super keen you can plant early peas and broad beans from seed but you must take care to protect flowers on any chance hot days.
  • If you are growing from seed you can plant beetroot, carrots, radish, Coriander, rocket, fennel, spinach, silver beet or green manure direct into the ground. Seeds of broccoli, celery, silverbeet, spinach and spring onion can also be sewed into punnets and grown.
  • It’s a good time of year to crank up your herb garden so you can pick and dry in early autumn to keep you going through the cooler months.
  • Brassicas such as Brussels sprouts and cabbage need a long growing season so it is a good time to plant them too, but avoid planting them where you have had heavy powdery mildew on the previous crops. Bi-carb and milk sprays can help to prevent early infection. Make sure you have no caterpillars or caterpillar eggs on the plants and net with insect netting to prevent any new arrivals.
  • Clearing garden beds for your autumn plantings is always exciting. Consider an in-between green manure crop to add some organic matter and nitrogen and encourage those soil dwelling/creating creatures to thrive.
  • Summer pruning fruit trees to reduce canopy size, increase airflow and control vigorous growth is advisable at this time. Also a good time to fertilize citrus in the early phases of fruit formation.
  • Mulch and feed native plants as a boost for autumn flowering.
  • Late summer and early autumn are a good time to take semi hardwood cuttings of flowering perennials. Plants from the Laminaceae family (Look for square stems like Salvias, mint, lavender and thyme) and daisy family do particularly well from cuttings. Always ask permission before you take a cutting.
  • Indoor plants could use some TLC while the weather is still warm. Repot into slightly bigger pots where needed and feed. Pop them in the shower for a wash or wipe down the leaves to remove dust.
  • Recruit any household members or friends to help you stew, dry, freeze, dehydrate, pickle and bottle any garden bounty. It’s much more fun and less overwhelming with others or at least with a good podcast!
  • Swap and gift excess fruit and veg with neighbours or leave somewhere to gift and cheer up passers by. Try fermenting, preserving, and bottling your excess for the coming colder months.

If you haven’t already, now is time to action your autumn garden plans to make the most of any residual summer warmth.

Not only is it a good time to propagate seedlings and plant out your veggie patch, if you happen to love native plants or ornamentals, now is also the time to add to your collection, fill any gaps and tweak your design. Weeding and refreshing garden beds with compost and manure, planting seed directly, taking soft-wood cuttings and seed saving are all on the cards.

  • Legumes such as peas, snowpeas, sugarsnaps, sweetpeas (for colour and scent) and broad beans can all be sown direct. Make sure that you have good trellis structures set up at the time of planting peas and you may need to support your broad beans later in the season.
  • Garlic is available for planting from now until mid-winter. Set aside some room in the veg patch and work in some lime if you’ve added a lot of compost and manure. Keep your garlic and legumes separate as they exude substances from their roots that inhibit each other’s growth.
  • If you have planted broad beans in February as a green manure, you may be tempted at this point to let them keep growing and provide you with lovely beans… if you do this you will be sacrificing the benefits of this plants ability to store nitrogen in your soil. This is due to the fact that as soon as they fruit, the nitrogen in and around the roots will be turned into protein in the beans!
  • It is also time for brassicas, kale, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. Think in advance about how you will protect against cabbage moth, as they are always lurking. If you use fine netting, you can exclude them from the start. If that is not possible you can use a Dipel spray which is very effective and safe for most other insects as it contains a bacteria to target only caterpillars.
  • Now is also the time to plant silverbeet, lettuce, rocket, spring onion, spinach, beetroot, celery, kohl rabi, leek, radish, asian greens and more. Many of these flavoursome friends are excellent for small spaces.
  • Apples, pears and quinces are fruiting in abundance now. It is a good idea to clean up fallen fruit and woody debris from around the base of trees to discourage codling moth next season. Grazing your (or your neighbours) chooks under fruit trees can take care of any larvae that might overwinter in the soil and mulch.
  • If you have any fruit trees that you suspect might be struggling with heavy soil, sow some alfalfa around them to later chop and drop in place as mulch. The deep penetrating alfalfa roots will help to break up the soil to improve water holding capacity.
  • When planting natives and ornamentals be sure to choose your locations carefully, taking into account the conditions the plant requires. If you are careful about planting where there is the right light, soil and water availability for the plant, it is much more likely succeed.
  • If you are tending to an ‘adopted patch’ in your neighbourhood, now is a great time to add any Indigenous tube stock. Smaller flowering ground covers and grasses are perfect if you are planting near road sides.
  • If you are pruning back vigorous summer growth consider ‘chopping and dropping’ to keep the nutrients in your garden and feed microbial life rather then sending it off in the council green bin. Cutting things smaller will speed up decomposition and create good air pockets if added to the compost. Just avoid keeping any diseased plant material.
  • The first of the Midyim berries are ripening in the First Nations cultural food plants garden. A river mint tea and a native thyme damper would make the perfect local seasonal afternoon tea for the Naarm (Melbourne) gardener.
  • March also offers two equally appealing options; to make like a reptile and soak up a sunny day in your growing space for observation & planning OR cosy up with a cuppa and gardening book and glean some inspiration in the novelty of a cooler day.

Daytime temperatures will be average to cooler than average in April, with some slightly warmer nights.

Keep a good eye on the forecast to make the most of gardening on the sunny days and the rest of the time, make sure you have a beanie, raincoat and some gum boots on hand and perhaps a nice pot of soup at the ready! Make the most of the weather to start and establish your veggie patch ASAP before the temperature starts to drop. A rainy April means it’s great weather for planting trees and local habitat plants too.

  • Clear out summer veg that has stopped producing and chop it up for the compost. If you’ve noticed any diseases like knobbly roots on your tomatoes (indicating the presence of tomato nematode), or powdery mildew on your zucs and cucs consider putting them in the green waste bin instead. Unless you have a very effective hot-compost these pests can overwinter and using this compost will re-infest your garden.
  • If your tomatoes are still producing you can pull them up and hang up undercover to finish ripening.
  • If you’ve still got nice basil and chillies going try sowing annual herb and lettuce/ rocket seed around them to make use of the space. These crops will grow quickly and you can harvest them while the summer stuff is still happy. When the basil and chillies are done snip them off at the base and let the roots compost into the soil.
  • Think of your more warmer season plants like chilli, capsicum, curry plant, lemon grass, ginger, coffee and basil. If in pots, is there a warmer micro climate in the garden you can move them too? Perhaps against a north facing wall or verandah?
  • Autumn is an important time to be feeding your soil. Top dress with compost and use an organic manure or slow-release for your new seedlings. Deciduous fruit trees can also have a feed before they go dormant. Citrus will have small fruits by now and you can add some potash and Epsom salts to help them mature, or simply use an organic citrus fertiliser. Asparagus and rhubarb will benefit from compost and manure. Let asparagus die back naturally before pruning back.
  • If you’ve never checked your soil pH, April is a good time to do so as many of the winter crops benefit from the addition of lime which can help ‘unlock’ the nutrients available to the plant. Kits for measuring soil pH are simple to use and are available in the nursery.
  • Keep on top of the weeding in the garden before they set seed- one years seeding equals seven years weeding! Alternatively find out what ‘weeds’ are more like superfoods and test them out in the kitchen. You can also make ‘weed teas’ for your garden by soaking them & creating your own liquid fertiliser. Our School has a popular Edible Weeds course which provides guidance for identification and use if you’re not sure.
  • If you are growing in pots make sure you rejuvenate the potting mix before planting, you can add 50mm of compost and some organic fertiliser pellets to freshen it up.
  • Get your garlic and shallots in! Read more about how to grow garlic here
  • It’s a bit late now for brussel sprouts but you can still get broccoli, cauliflower, kale, pak choy, silverbeet, broad beans, rocket, radish, peas and all the leafy greens and herbs in. Use insect netting over your brassicas to prevent cabbage white butterflies from laying their eggs.
  • Autumn-fruiters like Feijoas and Cherry Guavas are might need some extra water as their fruit grows and ripens. Consider netting to stop the birds from feasting!
  • If you haven’t potted up your indoor plants to the next size pot it is best to wait till the weather warms up again in mid Spring when growth is more active, you can however give an autumn feed of slow release fertiliser.
  • Prune back any finished flowering perennials and tip prune natives to keep compact.
  • If you have the good fortune of a Walnut or Apricot tree in your space- now is a good time time (while still actively growing- not dormant) to prune. This avoid sap bleeding and reduces chance of diseases such as gummosis.
  • As leaves begin to fall, spray peach and nectarine trees with copper spray or sulphur spray to help control leaf curl. Spray again before bud burst. Alternate between Sulphur and Copper each year to avoid any build up in soil.
  • You might notice Citrus leaf miner on the new growth of your citrus at this time of year. This can be treated by pruning and discarding effected leaf or spraying with an eco oil on a cooler more overcast day -to avoid burning leaves.
  • Prune off old spent summer fruiting raspberry canes and bundle together the new canes for next years fruit. If you have Autumn fruiting raspberries they will be pruned to the ground in winter.
  • Consider what left over seeds and seedlings you can share with your neighbours and perhaps hatch a plan to each specialise in different crops and then exchange.
  • Take a moment to enjoy the beauty of autumn! The leaf, colours the afternoon light, the migrating birds and the joy of the harvest. For many gardeners autumn is the best time of year.
The autumn leaves are falling though so it’s time to start thinking about gathering them for composting and planning for fruit tree planting.
  • Deciduous fruit trees will arrive in nurseries in June so make your wish lists gardeners! Surely you can fit in the odd miniature cherry or columnar apple? Dig compost and manure into sites where you plan to plant and get those microbes moving. Scrounge around for large pots to plant dwarf trees and berries in when the time comes. Also have a think about where you have room to plant strawberry runners, asparagus crowns and horseradish. All of these will come bare-rooted in the winter months. 
  • Get the rake out and gather up the autumn leaves wherever you can. They are pure gold for the compost and worms love them. Bag them up and add in layers with your veg and garden scraps. This will get the compost working faster; it slows down a lot over the winter months.
  • With the warm weather sticking around there’s still time to pop in some winter crops like broccoli, kale, beets, broad beans, peas, leafy greens and herbs.
  • Rhubarb crowns can be divided and replanted now. This should be done every five years to avoid overcrowding. If you don’t have a rhubarb plant you’ll see them available in nurseries from this month through to the end of winter. Planting crowns will ensure a harvest much sooner than seedling-grown plants.
  • Now is the best time to plant Indigenous tubestock and you’ll find a wide variety available. Beautiful native bluebells (Wahlenbergias) are flowering now and provide great colour as well as attracting native pollinators.
  • Higher-than-average temperatures will see aphid numbers explode, especially on strawberry plants. Don a gardening glove and wipe them off by the hundreds between your fingers; then follow up with a spray of botanical oil to thin their numbers.
  • Persimmons are fruiting in all their autumnal glory. Grab a box from Fair Food, pick the astringent varieties and leave them to mature into sticky, jammy deliciousness. If you are up for a challenge try making the scrumptious Japanese delicacy Hoshigaki.
  • Early olives are fruiting so get brining and salting!

It’s a good time to observe and take note of plants that are doing well in your area and what works and doesn’t work in peoples gardens. 

We are coming close to the winter solstice and it’s time to plant some fruit trees and winter vegetables in Melbourne! This is when the widest range of deciduous fruit and nut trees are available in nurseries because it’s best to plant them while they are dormant in the winter. And of course it gives us an excuse to get back out there and warm up with some vigorous digging! Check our Facebook page for a list of what’s coming in this season.

  • Think about where the light falls in your garden in summer as well as winter, and about how much space you have before you rush out and come home with a car load of trees. Dwarf fruit trees are a great option for smaller gardens and can even be grown in large pots. Vines like grapes and kiwi fruits give wonderful shade in summer and let precious winter sun in. Also their ability to take up vertical space is a plus. Berries provide a fantastic yield in a small space, whether they are cane berries like raspberries and boysenberries, or bush berries like blueberries and currants. Bare-rooted plants should be pruned before they are planted out with the exception of apricots and sweet cherries which are best pruned while the sap is still flowing in Autumn. Dig in some compost or enriched planting mix before you plant and you’ll be giving your trees the best chance of success.
  • Get your pruning gear in good shape for the work it will be doing in July on established fruit and nut trees in the garden. Sharp and clean secateurs and pruning saws will save you time and energy and prevent damage to your trees.
  • Use all those lovely crisp brown leaves falling from deciduous street trees to your advantage and rake them up for the compost. Leaves provide much needed carbon and having a bag of them in the shed is a sure-fire way to get your carbon-nitrogen ratio correct and speed up your compost. If you have larger leaves from plane trees- its great if you can shred them up in a mulched or run over them with a lawn mower.
  • There is still time to get your garlic and shallot bulbs planted, and don’t forget about leeks and spring onions. Intermediate and long day onions like NZ Cream Gold can still be planted for a January harvest.
  • Divide your strawberries, jerusalem artichokes, horseradish, turmeric, rhubarb and asparagus. Many of these plants will be available now as bare root stock so prepare the soil and think about how many you can fit in! Remember asparagus is a long game and needs room to develop extensive roots but the payoff is worth it.
  • Protect young seedlings from slugs and snails with copper tape around old pots with the bottoms cut out, and place some beer traps around level with the soil in the veggie patch.
  • Succession sow coriander, rocket and mizuna every fortnight to have a regular supply. Try a few different winter leafy greens like mustard, tatsoi, mibuna, lamb’s lettuce, rapini, radicchio, endive and chinese broccoli. Stunners like kohlrabi, romanesco broccoli and purple cauliflower can brighten up the winter veggie patch and the kitchen table. Edible flowers like nasturtiums, calendulas, pansies and violas supply gorgeous colour on cold rainy days.
  • Winter is still an okay to plant Indigenous tube stock, they just wont grow much until things warm up a bit- but you’ll have a head start on Spring planting and contributing to wildlife habitat in your area…
  • Consider installing a bird bath, water bowl or nesting box in your garden. Review what’s flowering in your garden and if you are providing for wildlife all through the year or just at certain times. Many Australian native plants flower well in the cooler months and are a good way to fill any gaps in flowering.
  • Move your indoor plants into the brightest position possible and wait to do any re-potting until spring or early summer as they can suffer worse transplant shock in the cold weather. If you have heating on remember that house plants can dry out quickly so check soil for moisture levels. Bring any small tropical plants you have in pots onto a deck or inside to reduce their damage from the cold.

The cold is upon us and while some days are crisp and frosty the glorious winter sun draws us out into the garden, armed with a nice hot cuppa, some good gloves, and a sharp pair of secateurs.

The calm pace of winter gardening is a sharp contrast to the frenzy of planting that takes place in spring and autumn. There’s still plenty of winter vegetables to plant and things to do in the garden in July if you are feeling active, but if not you can just rake in some green manure seed and hibernate for the month.

  • If you have established fruit trees now is the time to get pruning to increase your fruit yield in summer. The first rule is to prune out any dead, diseased or dying wood, and then any branches that are crossing each other. Do some research into the particular tree you are working on so you can recognise the fruiting wood and avoid inadvertently pruning it off. Keep your prunings to stick into garden beds to deter birds and cats. Nice long, straight twigs can even be dried out and used as stakes.
  • Bare root fruit and nut trees can be planted now. Consider a double graft to ensure you have good pollination and maximise space.
  • Citrus gall wasp should be pruned out now to prevent them hatching and re-infecting your tree in spring. The infected stems should be bagged for a few months to solarise them.
  • Use the quiet time to reflect on your garden design and build any structures that will improve your growing space. Is it time to rethink your space? Find some inspiration from the community? CERES’ Garden Design course is an excellent resource.
  • Climbing peas will be looking for something to hold onto so get out the stakes and string and make some tripods. For broad beans place some stakes around the perimeter of your patch and tie some string around them to prevent fragile stems from blowing over in the wind.
  • Rain can leach precious nutrients out of the winter vege patch so top up with liquid fertiliser such as worm juice or fish emulsion. Plant more spinach, lettuce, parsley, coriander, asian greens and sprouting broccoli to ensure a steady supply of greens. Beetroot is also a great crop as the tops can be harvested for a colourful salad mix.
  • Compost is breaking down slowly this time of year but will benefit greatly from aeration and the addition of carbon (shredded paper, cardboard, dry leaves). If you haven’t already got a worm farm think about establishing one before it starts to get warmer.
  • There are some great edible weeds about like young nettles and chickweed. Go for a forage and look up some new recipes!

As we head into the final winter month, there is an anticipatory spring thrill in the air.

It’s definitely time to start thinking about spring in the garden. Planning and preparing is paramount at this time, as when the soil warms up it will be a planting frenzy! To help get you in the mood just look at our native plants, an absolute joy at this time of year. Boronia is in bud and will soon fill the air with its heady fragrance. Hardenbergia is flowering and the golden haze of wattle starts to dot the landscape.

  • Plant asparagus, seed potatoesbare rooted strawberries, bare rooted fruit trees and rhubarb crowns.
  • If you haven’t already sprayed your stone fruit trees for leaf curl, do it now before the buds open. You need to spray with a copper spray or lime sulphur – preferably in July while the tree is completely dormant, and then again, at bud swell. Leaf curl affects peach, nectarines, almonds and other Prunus species. Once the blistered, curled foliage appears on your tree it is too late to spray, but be careful to practice good garden hygiene by picking up any fallen affected leaves.
  • Continue to plant leafy greens including spinach, lettuce, kale, sorrel, mibuna, mizuna as well as parsley, rocket, coriander. Plant beetroot, spring onion, sprouting broccoli and radishes and a late crop of peas.
  • Crank up your compost heap by turning more regularly and ensuring you have a good balance of carbon to nitrogen e.g for every one bucket of kitchen scraps you have 2 bucket of sawdust or autumn leaves.
  • Prepare the beds that you aren’t using. Dig in compost, worm castings and manure and add a layer of pea straw in preparation for spring planting.
  • Plant green manure seed to improve the soil in fallow beds, adding nitrogen and organic matter to create rich fertile soil.
  • Give your citrus and fruit trees trees a once over, top dress with compost, a sprinkle of potash, mulch and attend to any gall wasp.
  • Take to any citrus galls with a potato peeler to expose and kill the larvae inside ideally before the end of August. It is important to do this before the wasps emerge, from September to November depending on weather. We have a kaolin clay spray available in the Nursery which forms a barrier to prevent gall wasps from hatching or laying eggs- its important that you reapply this throughout the season. We do not recommend the use of yellow sticky traps for gall wasp as they also trap beneficial insects.
  • If you have troubles with pear and cherry slug in the past, now is the time to create a mulch barrier to stop them from emerging from below the ground. Water tree first then mulch around base with newspaper (10 page thick) or cardboard. Make sure you wet it down before mulching.
  • Alas fruit fly is becoming more of a pest in Melbourne as the climate warms. For now, the first stage of dealing with this pest is to monitor if it is in your garden using a pheromone to attract male fruit flies. If it is in your garden you can use a trap to attract male and female fruit fly. We sell a product in the Nursery or you can look for recipes online.
  • Checkout our range of tube stock indigenous to the northern plains of Melbourne, the ideal plants to attract local fauna to your garden.
  • Plant flowers for joy and for attracting beneficial insects. Nasturtium, lobelia, alyssum, pansies, violas and many more can be planted now for spring colour.
  • Go for a bush walk. A favourite activity of ours is searching for terrestrial orchids in late winter. We love seeing them, tiny and important, growing in their minuscule majesty under tall trees or on heathlands. We are very lucky to have hundreds of native orchid species and many of them can be found very close to Melbourne.

September is such an exciting time of year for gardeners and nature lovers and here at CERES Nursery we are keen to enhance your spring experience whether you are a new or established gardener.

When we speak to customers in the Nursery there is a great sense of eagerness (impatience?) for spring planting to be underway and I find myself advising many times over that it is important to wait.

  • Wait for the soil to warm up. Wait for the temperature to become consistently warmer at night.
  • Wait until seedlings are big and strong enough to be planted out into the garden.
  • Prepare the soil for planting. Incorporate plenty of compost and well-rotted manure into the soil.
  • Top this off with a mulch such as pea-straw, lucerne or sugar cane mulch. You can also add other products such as dolomite lime, rock dust and potash if you wish to boost nutrient levels in the soil for vegetable production.
  • Propagate seeds in mini hothouses or on a sunny windowsill.
  • Continue to plant coriander, rocket, parsley, spring onions, lettuce, kale, mizuna, mibuna, tatsoi, carrots, beetroot and spinach.
  • Mid to late September if the weather warms up consider planting zucchini, cucumber, pumpkin, tomatoes, squash, chillies, eggplant, capsicum and beans.
  • Don’t forget flowers! Plant borage, chamomile, violas, marigolds, nasturtiums, snapdragons, cosmos and sunflowers to add colour and attract insects.

October in the garden is a joyful and busy time for gardeners as we see plants surge forth as the weather warms up.

If you planted seedlings a bit too early over September they may not have grown much but should start to take off now. Make the most of walking and exploring gardens in your local area- take a note of plants you admire and what’s growing well, where… keen observation (and earth worms) are a gardeners BFF’s!

  • Plant summer vegetables including tomatoes, cucumber, pumpkin, zucchini, corn, chilli, capsicum, eggplant, beans and melons.
  • Try some new varieties of CERES Honey Lane organic tomatoes.
  • Plant sunflowers, cosmos, marigolds, alyssum, snap dragons, violas, lobelia and local wildflowers and grasses to add colour and diversity to the garden. Edible flowers such as borage will flowering prolifically- don’t forget to add some to a salad or cake decoration.
  • Continue to plant year round veggies such as spring onions, silverbeet, beetroot, carrots and kale and herbs. Leafy greens can be planted in a shadier part of the garden during the warmer months.
  • Bush foods such as finger lime and mountain pepper should be flowering and beginning to form fruit. Keep up water consistently during this time and mulch plants to avoid fruit drop.
  • Native thyme and native mint bush (Prostantheria incisa and Prostanthera rotundifolia) should be pruned back after flowering to keep compact.
  • Murnong tubers can be dug up in spring and summer- but always leave some plants in the ground to continue seeding. There are many other edible native tubers such as Chocolate and Vanilla Lilly and Ptilotus.
  • Early to mid spring is a good time to prune back shrubs after flowering to help keep growth compact.
  • Summer herbs, such as all the basils (Sweet, Greek, Ruby, Thai), Lemon grass, Tarragon, Sage and all the mints are in their element.
  • Keep weeds under control with ongoing hand weeding. Weeds compete with other plants for water, space and nutrition. Use mulch to smother them and out-compete them with prostrate herbs and flowers.
  • Collect snails and slugs to reduce the population in the garden and check underneath leaves for caterpillars, aphids and whitefly.
  • Protect seedlings with fine gauge netting to prevent chewing insects and possums feasting on them.
  • The rising climate has seen an increase in the occurrence of fruit fly in Victoria. It is important, once flowering has finished on fruit trees, to cover with insect netting to protect your fruit and slow the spread of this pest species.
  • Thinning some fruits on fruit trees will help ensure a better quality harvest.
  • Try ‘beer traps’ if snails are getting to your strawberries before you. Train and tie bramble berries to wires or framework.
  • Make sure your worm farm is in a shaded position before weather heats up.
  • Test irrigation to help over warmer months – we are fast heading to the time of year when things can dry out very quickly.
  • With many birds and reptiles more active and moving with the warmer weather, assess whether your garden is able to cater for different creatures. Bird baths, sunning rocks, flowering plants for nectar and insect attracting, ponds, insect hotels and nest boxes are all useful additions to make your garden more wildlife friendly and can be easily installed.
  • Indoor plants will benefit from potting up a size and feeding. If the sunlight conditions have altered indoors – depending on plant species you may need to move plants into or out of direct light.
  • If you are seeking more space to garden with, explore your surrounding area… perhaps there is a patch of nature strip somewhere that you can help tend to?

In Melbourne, November is known as the traditional time to plant out tomato seedlings. Cup Day is the first Tuesday of the month and is earmarked by many as their tomato planting day. Other jobs in November include continuing to plant out summer veggies as the weather warms up and to generally get things in order before it gets too hot.

  • Make sure you have mulched your vegetable garden with straw-based mulch. This will suppress weeds, trap moisture and draw worms and other microorganisms to the surface. As the mulch breaks down it will help to build a lovely soil, rich in organic matter.
  • Plant tomatoes and remember to stake them at the time of planting.
  • Earwigs are prevalent at this time of year. They chew on young seedlings. A few tips include an upside down cardboard box that they will hide in and you can empty it out in the morning. Some screwed-up newspaper will attract them also. A takeaway container with the lid on with a layer of tuna oil is also a great trap for earwigs. Simply punch some small holes around the container with a skewer and the earwigs won’t be able to get back out.
  • Ensure that you are watering enough, especially if you are growing in containers. Container grown plants will dry out very quickly and need thorough watering at least once a day, more in excessively hot weather. Do not rely on the rain for container plants as it does not penetrate very far.
  • Vegetables growing in pots need regular feeding as well. Add an organic fertiliser at the time of planting and supplement this with fortnightly liquid feed. This can be fish, seaweed or liquid from a worm farm.

In summer there are delights and challenges that face the home gardener. The delight of seeing your spring plantings take shape in the summer sun and the pleasure of harvesting those first tomatoes and zucchinis, tempered by the challenge of keeping plants alive and looking good under extreme heat conditions. Here are a few ways to cope and stay cool and happy in the process.

  • Ensure that you have mulched adequately. Mulch will protect the soil from heat and keep roots cool and moist. It also encourages earthworms and other soil friends to rise to the surface and improve the soil.
  • Water at the base of the plant. Direct the water where it needs to go and avoid damaging foliage, encouraging fungal problems and waste.
  • Water early or late. Watering in the middle of the day is not effective but if you need to do it sometimes go right ahead. Water pot plants every single day.
  • Drape bed sheets over plants on very hot days to prevent burnt foliage and damaged fruit. The sun will burn ripe tomatoes and other vegetables. Putting up a shade umbrella in the afternoon will also help.
  • Don’t try to garden in the heat. Relax and save gardening for the morning or evening and not at all on very hot days. Create a cool shady spot in the garden from which you can observe and plan what exciting things you’ll do in autumn!


Open Monday – Sunday
9am – 5pm
Corner of Roberts & Stewart Streets, Brunswick East, VIC 3057
Call (03) 9389 0111
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