June 6, 2008 Weekly Garden Guide

  • You can continue planting broad beans, winter spinach, silver beet and members of the onion family including garlic. Technically elephant garlic is in the leek family, not garlic but you can still plant it in the same way though it is too early for leeks themselves.
  • It is the optimum time for raising annuals from seed for planting out in early spring. If you raise them in a seed tray, you will have much greater success than scattering the seed straight onto the garden.
  • Herbs will benefit from some attention. Woody herbs such as rosemary and sage can be struck from cutting at this time of the year while perennial herbs such as mint, thyme and marjoram benefit from being dug and divided. Herbs are best in full sun with good drainage but don’t generally need as rich a soil as vegetables. Keep them close to your back door for convenience when cooking. Mint can be rather invasive. If you plant it in pot or planter bag and then bury it in the garden, you can curb its wandering ways.
  • We noted last year that it was time to blanch the witloof (chicory) and that we would report back on whether it was worth the effort. It wasn’t. They were still bitter and we won’t be growing them again. This year it is kale that is under trial but the first harvest was not promising. Our first attempts at cooking them were only greeted with enthusiasm by the cat. She completely floored us by devouring the tough vegetable leaf which neither of us would eat.
  • Garden centres will be full of new season’s stock and we are lucky in our climate that we can plant all winter, unless you live halfway up the mountain or in a very cold inland spot. It is better to renovate gardens and plant now than in spring or (even worse) summer. It gives a chance for the plants to get established without getting stressed by heat or dry. This is even more important for those people who garden on sand or dry soils on the coast.

Even if you think you are a dedicated gardener, you may blench at one Celia Thaxter, who wrote in 1894

These are most anxious time on account of the slugs. Now every morning when I rise I go at once into the garden at four o’clock and make a business of slaughtering them till half past five, when I stop for breakfast.

Either she had a huge infestation of slugs or she was prone to hyperbole.