Here are four things to tackle in your home vege garden as we welcome in Summer and the Christmas-y month of December.
1. Harvest peas. I’ve grown my best crop ever of ‘Earlicrop Massey’ dwarf peas this spring. This variety is incredibly prolific. My plants are laden with pods filled with fat, succulent peas. The only problem is that they’ll all be ready at once, which means that while I’m eating peas every night this week, there will be none left a week from now. The plants look exhausted too, so when I finish picking the pods I’ll compost the plants. It’s getting too hot now for peas and snow peas. They prefer cool, moist conditions and tend to succumb to mildew rapidly when the weather warms up. If your peas are past their best, pull out the spent vines and use that extra space to plant more zucchini and basil.
2. Sow and plant cucumbers. Cucumbers are easy to grow in containers or in garden beds. Sow direct, or raise in individual pots first if you’re worried about slugs and snails eating the seeds as soon as they sprout. I plant mine at the edge of raised beds so they can trail down to the ground and wander off to wherever suits them best. One of my favourites is the smooth-skinned ‘Lebanese’ variety. It’s available from garden centres as seedlings, or in the Yates seed range. You can also get round apple cucumbers, miniature cucumbers, grafted Supacumbas (they grow like they’re on steroids) and gherkins. If you want to grow your own gherkins for pickling, sow at least four or five plants (try ‘Homemade Pickles’) and pick every second day to stop them swelling into sour-faced cucumbers. Gherkins are best grown up a fence or trellis so you don’t have to bend down to harvest them all.
3. Keep sowing beans, radishes, carrots, corn, spring onions and salad greens. It’s amazing how much faster everything is germinating now that we’ve finally had a few days of hot, sunny, summery weather. Plant peppers, eggplants and chillies too. It’s too late to sow these from seed now, but you can still put in potted seedlings from the garden centre.
4. Grow herbs from cuttings to bulk up your herb patch… or give away to friends. You can propagate oregano, rosemary, sage, tarragon and mint this way, and it’s dead easy. Don’t use growth that’s too new or it will wilt straight away. Snip off stems about 5-8cm and strip off the lowest leaves. Then just push into moist seed-raising or potting mix. Or if you want something a little more unusual, track down a pelargonium (often called geraniums) with scented foliage that smells of lemon, pineapple or even chocolate. Geraniums are also easy to strike from a cutting, so if you know someone with a thriving plant ask if you can snip a few stems.