Well, how about anticipating some cooler temps already! Yes, our summer’s in Queensland are hot and steamy by nature and after the welcome rains we received lately, the humidity has become exhausting for most, never mind for those of us working hard- outdoors physically. Also this month, on March 17th, is Saint Patrick’s Day, and besides the fact I have direct Irish heritage and I love to wear with pride a green shamrock on the day, it also happens to be the best time for planting out garlic cloves (bulbs) in the subtropics. There are a few varieties that are suitable for planting in the subtropics and some are also available to purchase online. It is never recommended to plant, supermarket bought garlic though, especially from overseas, as most have been bleached to kill pathogens or irradiated, so buying fresh seed stock (bulbs) locally, is the responsible thing to do, you will get a more superior and robust variety that will retain its health benefits too. You can search the farmers markets for good organic garlic growers to buy your fresh stock from, such as ‘Super Natural Organics’, that service the Noosa Farmers Market every Sunday with their popular ‘Giant Russian’ garlic- when available, among many other certified organic fruits and veggies of course. See link here: www.snog.com.au. But if you have missed the opportunity to source any garlic locally, and you are time poor, then jump onto the ‘Green Harvest’ website to place an order. Some varieties recommended to plant by ‘Green Harvest’ in QLD are: ‘Glenlarge’ and ‘Italian Pink’ and ‘Italian late’. ‘Glenlarge’, was developed for the Qld climate by the Department of Primary Industry’s Research Station at Gatton- west of Brisbane. See link here: www.greenharvest.com.au The time to plant is the autumn equinox (first full moon in March), but you could plant them right up to the end of April but the later you plant, you could compromise on the bulbs size upon harvesting. Harvest is in approximately 6 to 9 months depending on the variety and local weather conditions. You can put the cloves in the fridge a few days before to chill them and to speed up germination. Best to plant the largest cloves from the outside of the bulb and place the individual cloves with the flat part (basal) side down and the pointy section up- just under the soil surface, in a rich compost and place a thin layer of sugar cane mulch over the whole lot also.
Now autumn is here, it’s the time to get those garden beds enriched, as March is also a great time to plant out tomatoes, capsicum and eggplant or sow seeds of beetroot and peas or plant some flowers such as Dianthus, marigolds and sweet peas- to only name a few, into some well-prepared garden beds or large containers with compost mixed with composted manures and mulch with a feeder mulch like sugar cane, or lucerne which will protect the fine roots from harsh sunlight, conserve moisture and the bonus of it breaking down to improve the soil and microorganisms in time. With all the worries of the world and the ‘Corona’- virus situation, it really brings home the importance of self-sufficiency as much as possible. We are so used to relying on supermarkets for our produce that if there is ever a hiccup in the supply chain, such as panic buying or bush fires and floods etc, there is nowhere to turn except to be more self-reliant. Drying foods such as banana’s, mangoes and strawberries in a food dehydrator is one way to conserve and store any surplus from harvesting your fresh fruits and vegetables as they are delicious and nutritious. That’s all this issue, stay tuned and stay healthy! Your local Horticulturist!