Guru's green thumb

Guru's green thumb

BRETT KING has been growing vegetables in Canberra for 30 years and says he has made mistakes in that time.

But he has learned from experience the truth in the old rule – don’t plant tomatoes before Melbourne Cup Day.

Brett King, a keen gardener in Canberra for over 30 years.

Brett King, a keen gardener in Canberra for over 30 years.Credit:Graham Tidy

‘‘There will always be a late frost that will knock them on the head,’’ he said.

‘‘They’re not going to kick off until the soil temperature picks up a bit.’’


Mr King said eager Canberra gardeners could get their peas, carrots and onions in the ground this weekend. But salad vegetables, like zucchini, capsicum and cucumber would do better if planted in about a month’s time.

Gardeners starting out should ensure they’ve got good soil, which they could buy from a gardening centre, Mr King said.

The Gungahlin man said his backyard was on clay rock, so it was best to build up a garden bed and throw in any grass clippings, decomposed leaves and anything from the compost heap.

He uses blood and bone, decomposed chicken manure and cow manure as fertiliser.

‘‘All the natural ones I find are best, you can’t been them,’’ he said.

Tomatoes, capsicums, carrots and potatoes are fairly easy-to-grow vegetables for beginners, and those looking for quick results should give radishes a try.

Mr King said brussel sprouts were about the only vegetable he had not had success with growing in Canberra – perhaps the soil was wrong – but he planned to try again this year.


■ Invest in good soil or potting mix.

■ Beetroot, peas, carrots and onions are OK to plant now.

■ Do not plant tomatoes until Melbourne Cup day.

■ Radishes are great for kids' gardens because they grow quickly.

■ On balconies, try Asian green vegetables or herbs.

■ When things go wrong, try again.

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