November has finally arrived and what a busy time in the garden it is. I tend to plant a mixture of slow and fast shoots, so I have a continuous supply of produce to harvest while waiting for those that take a little longer to mature.
Short-term, fast-growing plants include lettuce, cucumber, Asian greens, yellow and green zucchini, and silver beet.
Longer-term delicacies that aren’t ready until after Christmas but worth the wait include tomatoes, basil, sweetcorn, all melons, and pumpkins.
Finally, it’s time to plant one of my all-time favorites – sunflowers.
I must admit, I can’t wait to see these beauties arrive that I can’t help but get the students to randomly throw some seeds in the school garden before November, but my real organized planting is starting now.
It seems to have been particularly cold and humid so far, so starting to plant now is fine as sunflowers love heat.
I try to sew a few in the school garden every week throughout November so that their flowering time is staggered, thus maximizing the number of flowering weeks.
It also means that we can enjoy it in February and even until March of the following year when the kids are back in school.
A year ago I planted them so early they all bloomed over the Christmas holidays – a fabulous time in your own backyard when parents arrive for Christmas, but not so good in the school garden when it there is no one to see them and enjoy them!
You can sew them straight into the ground or grow them in small containers, transplanting them to your garden when they are a bit bigger and less attractive to the myriad of pests – possums, birds, rats, slugs, snails, slaters. – who like to eat tender young shoots.
We will have a range of sunflowers for sale at the roadside honesty stand in November, as I love that children experience the full life cycle in action – we start by collecting the seeds from the flower heads, eating them, store some, sew them 9 months later, care for them, watch them grow, protect them – mostly from the 28 parrots trying to eat them before us – collect the seeds and start the whole process over.
We just don’t have the space to sew as many as we collect, so some go to the roadside honesty booth to spread the love – and the sunflowers – around town!
This year we will be showcasing a giant variety (pictured), a teddy bear, a dwarf and a rust colored variety in the school garden, and these varieties will all be available at the booth as well.
If you really want to reap the rewards from your garden, it helps to learn the art of patience.
Overall, gardeners are very patient – you have to think about what you want to grow or what your garden will look like, and then work backwards from that picture.
Do your research, find out if this vision in your head can be achieved in Margaret River within the limits of your available resources, locate the seeds or plants you are looking for, prepare the site (s) and plant them at the right time. the year. .
Then it’s all about care.
I have a Magnolia that flowers about two weeks a year. And it is spectacular.
It’s a lot of waiting. But for me, it’s worth it.
The next time you think you couldn’t wait “so long” for this tree to bear fruit or for this plant to flower, think of the Madagascan palm (Tahina spectabilis) which takes fifty to one hundred years to flower.
Now that’s a lot of waiting time. Everything is relative, isn’t it?
And don’t forget gardening tip number four: be patient!
Good things really happen to those who wait.
Terri Sharpe is the Garden Coordinator and Specialist for the Margaret River Elementary School’s Vegetable Garden Program and a Horticultural Lecturer at TAFE Margaret River.
Her column focuses on tips for a productive edible garden – what and when to plant, when to harvest, disease and pest management, and general advice on what works (and doesn’t) here in the Margaret River area.