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August 26, 2014

A to Z: Harvest, sow, preserve

With the earth thawing, spring presents an opportune time to get dirty. Roll up your sleeves, haul on your Hunter gumboots and fall in line with the CityMag green thumb. This issue our horticultural hero shows us what seeds to sow, which crops to harvest and how to preserve the leftovers for later.

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  • Art direction: Joshua Fanning
  • Pictures: Brendan Homan

A – Artichoke – sow the young plant, 1m apart, ready to harvest early next winter. Grows to about 1.5m tall.

B – Blueberries – the best time to sow young blueberry plants is in late autumn or early spring. If your bush is already established, pruning in spring will help bear fruit in summer.

C – Cucumbers – sow in garden bed where you want the trailing plant to grow. Ready to harvest in eight to 10 weeks.

D – Daikon – grows better in cooler climates, look to harvest this Japanese radish by mid-spring. Enjoy fresh in a stir fry or pickle for later.

E – Eggplant – a tender vegetable. Sow in undercover seed trays in early spring and transplant to your garden or pot in October or November.

F – Fennel – a winter vegetable, it’s time to harvest and savour the flavour of this delicious bulb before it disappears. 

G – Grapes – grow rapidly and cover many metres in just one season. Sow in early spring but prepare a trellis, fence or pergola to train the canes in the right direction.

H – Herbs – have varying success rates, but spring is a good time to sow them. Parsley is easy and same with rosemary. Dill is delicious and coriander seems to go to seed far too easily.

I – Iceberg lettuce – grows well outside of summer. Hopefully you can harvest a fresh head for a springtime sandwich.

J – Jalapeno – thrives in the sun. Sowing your chilli now will bring fruit in late spring or early summer.

K – Kiwi fruit – the climbing plants should be sown in a protected site. Not for renters as the plant takes four to five years to fruit.

L – Lemons – preserve the abundant crop of winter in an airtight jar with cut lemons smothered in sea salt and submerged in lemon juice.

M – Mushroom – kept in the dark and fed manure, mushrooms spontaneously pop up throughout winter. Harvest them and preserve by frying and freezing.

N – Nectarines – among the first stone fruit to appear on trees and on market shelves. Harvest these quickly and welcome back the sun in style!

O – Onion – a perennial crop. Sowing onion seedlings in spring will ensure that summer hits right when you need the warm weather for their maturing. 

P – Passionfruit – is a glossy-leafed climber that’s not ready to be sown, harvested or preserved in spring, but would love a strong pruning to bring on a good  summer crop.

Q – Quince – will have dropped by now, but preserving this delicious and fragrant fruit is always a good idea – just ask Maggie Beer!

R – Raddichio – should be sown in the cool of early spring. Its friends rhubarb and raspberry should be planted late spring and early in the year respectively, and nurtured ready for a summer harvest.

S – Strawberries – ready to harvest late in spring. They’re so full of flavour at this time of year, you might accidentally mistake them for a lolly. 

T – Tamarillo – if sown in spring, these will grow into an extraordinarily attractive fruit atop an extraordinarily attractive tree with beautiful foliage.  

U – Unripe banana – whack these in the fruit bowl with the ready-to-eat produce and apply a little patience.

V – Vanilla bean – an extended holiday in the tropics could see a crop come to maturity in time for harvest upon your return to South Australia. 

W – Witlof  – harvest this bitey leaf vegetable as spring turns to summer and enjoy a whole new world of flavoursome salad.

X – Xigua – is a stout Chinese watermelon that’s ready to harvest in late spring. 

Y – Yellow squash – sow this delicious vegetable as seedlings undercover in spring ahead of transplanting them into a permanent garden bed home in summer. 

Z – Zucchini – spring is the ideal time to plant this warmth-loving seedling, which should fruit ready for eating as it basks in the sun of summer.

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