Chill spring-flowering bulbs in March to have them ready for planting come April. As a general rule, plant bulbs twice as deep as they are wide and the same distance apart. Make sure the soil is free-draining and in some places it is beneficial to mound up the soil to improve drainage. Pots are ideal for bulbs for this reason.
It may surprise you, but now is a good time to add tropical plants to the garden so they can develop a self-sustaining root system. Lillypilly, Hibiscus, Bougainvillea, frangipani, Dipladenia, Mandevillea, Allamanda and trees like Poinciana and Jacaranda should be placed in a sheltered area into rich, moist soil. Plant native shrubs and trees now so growth throughout winter establishes a root system that tolerates dry summer months.
Plant bird-attracting plants late April, such as Grevilleas, Callistamons, kangaroo paws and Banksias.
In the vegie garden, it is time to plant:
- Asian greens
Weed garden beds before annual grass weed seeds germinate with first rains.
Use a hoe to break the ground up, restricting the weed growth cycle. While you are out and about doing some general garden maintenance, lightly prune plants that have finished flowering or are looking a little straggly.
Renovate lawns in March. Vertimow in sandy soils and spike lawns in heavy soils to open the ground up and remove dead water-repellent matter. Top-dress uneven lawns.
Adding wetting agents to garden beds is an important April job. This ensures the ground is ready to soak up that lovely autumn and winter rainfall.
It is certainly apple season in WA – ‘Fuji’, ‘Golden Delicious’, ‘Jonathon’ and Granny Smith particularly. Figs, grapes and kiwi fruit are also coming into season. For something different, keep a look out for guava and kumquat.
Olives are also an autumn crop. If you have grown your own olives, preserving them is a little time-consuming but well worth the effort. WA will also still be getting some tasty fresh beans, as well as sweetcorn, chillies, capsicum and pumpkin from summer.
More unusual standouts include eggplant and Jerusalem artichoke. Try this delicious, simple soup with your artichokes.
JERUSALEM ARTICHOKE SOUP
500 g artichokes, scrubbed, peeled and roughly chopped
2 T extra virgin olive oil
2 large onions
2 garlic cloves, crushed and chopped
2½ C chicken stock
1 strip of orange peel
Freshly ground black pepper
3 T extra virgin olive oil for garnish
Fry onions until transparent, add garlic and continue to cook until aromatic, usually a couple of minutes. Toss the artichokes into the pan and mix with the hot oil and onion. Add the chicken stock and turn up the heat so the stock comes to a boil. Season with pepper and salt then drop in the orange peel. Cover the pan and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove the peel and place small portions of the mixture into a food processor and pulverise to a creamy consistency. Serve in individual bowls with a swirl of olive oil.
Recipe courtesy of Delish-From Garden to Table. Available here.