Now that the cool cold nights are here in central Victoria and the frosts are starting, it’s time to pull out frost-tender plants like zucchinis and tomatoes.
We had a prolific harvest of tromboncino zucchini this year, an heirloom vegetable common throughout Italy.
The plants look beautiful growing over fences and supports with the trumpet-shaped fruit hanging down.
It has fantastic flavour when picked small and can be used for many recipes, and when you run out of ideas can be turned into zucchini pickles.
Still have green tomatoes on your vines? Try hanging the whole plant upside down in a shed or somewhere cool and dry and the tomatoes will slowly ripen.
Or you can put five to 10 tomatoes in a paper bag with a ripening banana, apple or tomato and leave in a warm place. Check often for any showing signs of mould or rotting.
Another job in the veggie garden before it gets too cold and wet to get out there is to plant your garlic. Make sure the garlic you want to plant comes from an organic supplier or market gardener, as supermarket garlic is often sprayed with sprout inhibitors which means that cloves don’t spout.
Plant in well-drained soil not too rich in nitrogen. If your soil is acidic add a little garden lime and try to plant in full sun. Break open garlic bulbs into the individual cloves and plant the biggest cloves. Plant your cloves about 2cm deep. Make sure the base plate points down and the pointy growing tip points up. Space the cloves 15-20cm apart in both directions. Cover the cloves with soil, sprinkle some blood and bone or other slow-release organic fertiliser over the top and water well. Don’t water again until the cloves have sprouted. Make sure you mulch well to stop weeds. Then all you need to do is watch! You can add a bit of blood and bone in late winter. It should be ready to harvest around Christmas time, when you can plait them into braids and give them to people as Christmas presents.
With garlic so expensive in the shops and so easy to grow, why not give it a try?
Sandy Scheltema is a photographer and keen gardener. As photography work has dried up due to the virus, she has taken to gardening with a renewed passion!