5 minute gardener: what to do this weekend
Plan your vegetable beds – preferably on a rotational basis. At its most fundamental, this can be a matter of not growing crops from the same family in the same place two years in a row.
For rotation purposes crops tend to be divided into legumes (peas and beans); brassicas (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower etc); onions (onions, garlic, leeks etc); potatoes and tomatoes; roots (carrots, radish, beetroot etc); and leafy (spinach, silverbeet).
Often though, brassicas and leafy crops are bundled altogether, as are potatoes, onions and root crops. Rotate the groups around the beds in a three or four-year cycle. (Some gardeners prefer to leave one bed a year fallow).
Some crops, such as tomatoes, aubergines and cucurbits (pumpkin, courgettes etc), salad greens and sweetcorn may be grown where there is space, although try to avoid repeatedly growing them in the same spot. Rotating crops will maintain the soil's nutrient balance. For example, potatoes will drain the soil of potassium if grown in the same spot year in, year out.
Legumes return nitrogen to the soil, so they are often followed by the nitrogen-hungry leafy greens.
Plant roses. Many roses sold are bare-rooted. Even if they come in a plastic bag full of soil, they have been dug out of the ground at the nursery and potted up in the bags with a potting mix, which is usually quite light. So be careful not to let them dry out.
If you cannot plant them straight away, heel them into an empty spot in the garden.
Planting holes for new roses need to be at least 30cm deep, preferably with well-rotted compost at the bottom of the hole. The hole should be big enough to let the roots spread out. The lighter the soil, the deeper they should be planted. Fill back in around roots and firm in well and water.
Roses may be pruned in warmer districts; in cooler areas, hold off for a month or so.
Hardy annuals, among them alyssum, calendula, and night-scented stock, may be sown in lighter soil. In heaver soil, sowing is best done under cover or wait until spring.
The range of hardy annuals is wide. To learn more check out seed catalogues, gardening books and the internet.
Start thinking of digging in green manure. Cut it down first, then with a spade turn it into the soil. Doing it now will give it plenty of time to break down before sowing and planting begins in spring.
Plant fruit trees.
Prune existing fruit trees and soft fruit bushes (currants, gooseberries and raspberries).