Summer is the season of delicious food in Sydney. Our eyes light up and mouths start watering when mangoes, lychees and cherries start appearing on the shelves.
With the great weather and longer days, we know you’ll want to try growing some veggies and herbs too. But it’s notoriously hard to find a ‘what-to-plant-when’ guide for Sydney’s climate. Most are North American-based or Australia-wide.
So we’ve asked permaculturalist Myriam Pitre for a list of things you can plant this season. Myriam runs our Green Villages workshops on seed-to-plate, composting and worm farming and natural pest management.
For a balcony garden
As city dwellers in the Sydney area, most of us, including myself, only have a small space to grow produce. For those who garden in pots, here are a few favourites you can grow in the summer:
Lettuce and rocket do well in pots and are best kept close to your kitchen so you can pick fresh salad leaves easily. Mix them in the same pot and keep it in full sun or part shade. Ensure the soil drains well and don’t let it dry out. This prevents the lettuce bolting and developing a bitter taste when it’s hot. Plant your rocket every 3 to 5 weeks for a continuous supply. You can also mix in some beetroots for their leaves and their roots in the same container. Soak the seeds overnight before planting.
Chives are a great, space-saving herb, and they’re easy to grow in pots. A clump will give you an abundance of flavour for a very long time. Be patient and wait a few months for the clump to establish itself before harvesting from it.
For a little bit of colour in your salad, try a few radishes — they are fast growing and easy to care for.
If you have a plot of soil
You can try:
• silver beet
For those lucky enough to have a backyard or courtyard to plant in, there is still a little time left to grow cucumbers this season. Plant them in full sun. If you are short on space, look for a Spacemaster cucumber variety and give it a trellis to climb on: it’s a highly-productive compact variety and much-loved by urban gardeners.
If you’re looking for a long-lasting and productive plant for small backyard spaces, go for silverbeet. If you plant it now, you can start harvesting the outer leaves within a few weeks, and should continue to do so for many months. Summer is also the time to start your broccoli and leeks in seed trays in a protected area, which will need to be transplanted in the garden in 4 to 6 weeks.
Parsley is an easy and useful herb which grows really well in our temperate climate. If you plant your parsley seeds now, be patient, as it might take as long as 3 to 6 weeks to germinate. In the right conditions, it can grow into a sizeable bush producing an abundance of leaves for up to 2 years in Sydney’s climate.
Having grown up in a self-sufficient and sustainable household surrounded by organic gardens, it’s Myriam has always loved healthy, home-grown food. Despite living in a unit in an urban environment, she eats from her garden daily. Myriam runs our Green Villages natural pest management, seed to plate and worm farming and composting workshops.
Need help from a ‘green thumb’?
‘Ask a green thumb’ is a new column for Green Villages. Our resident ‘green thumb’ will be answering a reader query each month. If you have question, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll find the best answer from our network of professional horticulturalists, permaculturalists and foodies.