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April has to be one of the best seasons of the year in the garden. It’s an opportunity to breathe life into your soil and fill your vegie patch with fresh and delicious vegies and herbs, to keep you going over the cooler months. April is 'changeover month', when summer crops come to an end and winter crops take over.
It's time to pull out spent summer crops, add them to your compost or dig them into the soil, to help feed the next crop.
As the weather cools plants grow much more slowly, so winter gardening needs a bit more patience! However, there's nothing to stop you growing appropriate vegetables right through the winter months. There are so many well-loved varieties to choose from to tempt your green (or not so green) fingers and your tastebuds.
It’s important to give vegies and herbs the best possible start so they stay healthy and productive. One of the best ways to do this is to prepare your soil before sowing or planting. The secret's in the soil!
Soil is the 'engine room' of the garden - it's a vital part of a flourishing garden. Plants rely on microbes in soil to break down their fertiliser into a form they can absorb, so happy microbes leads to happy plants. You can help nurture and revitalise the life in your soil by mixing in some handfuls of Yates Dynamic Lifter Organic Plant Food before you plant seedlings or sow seeds.
It’s a concentrated, composted, pelletised poultry manure blended with blood and bone, fishmeal and seaweed.
Used regularly, the rich organic matter contained in Yates Dynamic Lifter Organic Plant Food will help increase the soil’s water and nutrient holding ability, improve soil structure as well as providing a rich source of food for earthworms and beneficial soil microorganisms, which are enormously helpful in the garden.
Earthworms and microorganisms turn organic matter into valuable plant available nutrients and earthworms also make tunnels through the soil, making it easier for plant roots to grow.
So what vegies can you plant in your Dynamic Lifter-enriched garden in April?
Here are some ideas for vegies to sow:
Yates Spring Onion – a crisp and crunchy variety with plump white stems and tasty green leaves that’s great for both the vegie garden and containers.
Yates Wong Bok – has a sweet, subtle hint of mustard taste and is perfect for succulent stir-fries, dumplings, spring rolls or thinly sliced into coleslaw.
Yates Beetroot 'Baby Beets' – tender and sweet quick growing beetroots that are ideal for salads. A perfect variety for pots.
Yates Shanghai Bok Choy - crisp, succulent green stems, and deep jade-green leaves. A favourite for steaming or stir frying.
Yates Lettuce 'Lattuga Ciucca' - tasty red-tinged heirloom. The wine-red flush may have inspired its Italian names, which translate as "drunken" lettuce.
Yates Leek ‘Welsh Wonder’ – a hardy and gourmet variety with tender white stems with a mild onion flavour.
Yates Broccoli ‘Shogun Winter Harvest’ – for sowing in temperate zones during April, a delicious broccoli variety with firm dome-shaped heads.
Yates Kohl Rabi 'Green Duke' - tastes like a mild, sweet turnip with a crisp hint of radish. Delicious raw, grated or shaved into slaws or salads.
Yates Cabbage 'Savoy King' - large crisp heads of finely crinkled emerald leaves, named for a region in Northern Italy. Ideal for wrapping around fillings.
Just follow the directions on the seed packets as to how deep to sow the seeds and keep the area moist. Your seedlings will emerge in around 2 weeks.
You might need to thin out some seedlings to give every plant enough room to grow. Slugs and snails can destroy tender young seedlings very quickly, so protect your vegie patch with a light sprinkle of Yates Blitzem Snail Slug Pellets around the soil.
In cool and temperate regions, tomatoes are sadly coming to the end of their growing season. Hopefully they've given you a bumper crop!
Here’s what to do with your tomato patch:
Remove the remaining fruit and ripen any green tomatoes on a warm windowsill.
Pull the plants out of the soil, roots and all if possible. This helps reduce the level of tomato pests and diseases that could linger.
Mix in some Yates Thrive Natural Blood Bone with Seaweed. After a busy few months of growing tomatoes, the soil will have become depleted of nutrients and organic matter levels will have declined. Yates Thrive Natural Blood & Bone is a rich source of concentrated organic matter, boosted with seaweed, and will help improve soil health and structure.
Refresh the mulch layer on the soil. Lucerne or pea straw is ideal as they help protect the soil from the elements. As they break down, they add valuable organic matter to the soil.
Choose your next crop! It’s important to practice crop rotation and not plant any vegetables in the same patch that are related to tomatoes, which includes plants like potatoes, capsicum, eggplant and chillies. Crop rotation helps to minimise the build-up of pests and diseases, that can infest plants in the same family. Leafy greens like spinach and silverbeet or brassica crops like broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower are fantastic for growing after tomatoes.
After planting your new seedlings, water them in well with Yates Thrive Natural Seaweed Tonic. Made from 100% sustainably sourced bull kelp, it helps to reduce transplant shock in new plants and is an excellent plant starter as it stimulates root growth.
Once the seedlings are established, start feeding with Yates Thrive Fish Blood & Bone plant food concentrate, which is a complete plant food containing organic nutrients from fish boosted with added fast acting nutrients to promote healthy plant growth and a great vegie harvest.