With tomatoes, chilli and rocket in your garden, you’re on your way to a home-grown Italian feast. The great news is that these are all things that love to grow in spring! Our local edible garden specialist Sarah Brill provides a how-to:
1. Potato potata tomato tomata
Tomatoes can struggle to grow in Sydney if there isn’t enough airflow around them. The humidity of the summer months can really hinder your chances. So, early spring is a great time to start your tomato crop.
Try growing from seed. Growing from seed means you get a chance at a bigger variety of tomato, so you can try a new type. For those just starting out though, cherry tomatoes are easiest as they aren’t bothered by fruit flies.
Don’t forget the general rule of gardening: don’t grow tomatoes in the same place every year. If you are growing in a pot, make sure you use fresh soil or compost.
When it comes to potatoes, there are lots of products and DIY ideas for growing in small lots. Growing in contained spaces actually makes the digging much easier. You could order your seeds from a seller or even try growing from a sprouting potato. This method is not recommended by those who insist on using certified disease free seed potatoes, but is kind of fun and shouldn’t lead to problems if grown in a contained space.
Sarah adds that it’s important to ensure that your potato patch is well drained.
2. Spice up your life
Chilli is another great plant to grow in spring. It’s also easy to grow from seed and you’ll get to choose from a huge variety. Chilli is happy in a pot or in the ground and can be prolific. Sarah suggests you freeze extra chilli to use over the winter months.
3. Easy being green
If your taste buds are not sensing soap in the flavor of coriander and you happen to love this controversial herb, spring is your time to propagate. Coriander isn’t an easy plant to grow, but it’s satisfying when you get a good one. As the weather warms, coriander can bolt to seed quickly. The seed can also be used in cooking or to replant more. Coriander does better with only morning sun and is fine in a pot or in the ground.
If you’re looking for a more hassle-free option, try rocket. It’s an obvious summer salad staple. It reseeds itself regularly, is happy in a pot or in the ground and is not very fussy.
4. Purple pleasure
Beetroot, the health-food favourite that is low in fat and full of vitamins and minerals, is another vegetable worth trying to grow from seed. It prefers to be in the ground, but is still very much worth a try in a large pot. Don’t forget that the young leaves can be eaten while you wait for the root to grow.
There’s no stopping you from achieving most of the above if you live in an apartment – you too can become a balcony bandit.
About Sarah Brill
Sarah is one half of the team behind Grow. Eat. Enjoy and has run edible garden workshops for the City of Sydney. She grew up in Perth where there was always plenty of room for a vegetable patch. While continuing to nurture private gardens, Sarah works in pre-schools, primary schools, high schools and after school care, advising, installing and maintaining sustainable and edible gardens. She works with organisations like OzHarvest and has held workshops and installed gardens for commercial businesses. She finds great satisfaction in passing on her gardening knowledge to adults and children.