North East Melbourne veggie planting guide

 

The table below shows the best months to plant each of a wide variety of vegetables and some herbs. It is not the only months that plantings are possible – just the best months. The current month is highlighted within a green rectangle.

Click anywhere in the table to view a higher resolution version without the current month highlighted. Alternatively, for printing purposes, here is a pdf version without the current month highlighted.

For each vegetable, the table shows: which months the seeds are best planted; how they should be planted (direct, seed trays, etc); how far apart to plant them; the plant’s lifecycle (annual, perennial, etc); how long its seeds are likely to remain viable; its crop rotation group (for those doing crop rotation); and its moon phase planting quarter (for those doing moon phase planting). Note that perennial herbs are not included (with Autumn being a good time to plant most of these).

Crop rotation

As fruity things, cucurbits (cucumbers, etc) and solanums (tomatoes, etc) are heavy feeders. Brassicas (cabbages, etc) are medium feeders. As rooty things, alliums (onions, etc) and umbellifers (carrots, etc) are light feeders. Legumes (beans, etc) are non-feeders (they can fix their own nitrogen). Many leafy greens (lettuce, spinach, silverbeet, etc) don’t have much impact on the soil and can thus be planted anywhere. So, alternating light and heavy feeders, one sensible crop rotation would be:

  1. Legumes (beans, peas etc).
  2. Brassicas (cabbage, broccoli, etc).
  3. Alliums (onions, leeks, etc).
  4. Cucurbits (cucumber, pumpkin, etc).
  5. Umbellifers (carrots etc).
  6. Solanums (tomatoes, potatoes, etc).

This is a 6-year crop rotation. To make it shorter, you have to do one or more of three things:

  1. Combine some things: so, for example, combine alliums and umbellifers as ‘roots’.
  2. Omit some things: so, for example, never plant brassicas.
  3. Plant a cool season crop (e.g. brassicas) followed by a warm season crop (e.g. solanums or cucurbits) into a single bed over the course of a year.

You also have to decide whether the annual rotation should take place in Spring or in Autumn.

For a comprehensive discussion of crop rotation, read Angelo Eliades’ article.

Moon phase planting

Lots of people (including, by anecdote, many farmers) practice moon-phase planting whereby different types of veggie are planted at different times in the moon’s 28-day cycle.

The basic idea/assumption/rationale/sophistry is that one wants root crops to grow downwards, and thus when the upward pull of the moon is lessening, and thus when the moon is waning. By contrast, one wants leafy and fruity crops to grow upwards, and thus when the upward pull of the moon is increasing, and thus when the moon is waxing. This gives the following phasing:

  • 1st quarter: leafy – plant crops where one eats the leaves/foliage.
  • 2nd quarter: fruits – plant crops where one eats the fruit.
  • 3rd quarter: roots – plant root crops.
  • 4th quarter: have a rest!

  57 Responses to “North East Melbourne veggie planting guide”

  1. Hello again.
    Firstly, thanks for your wealth of knowledge and prompt responses.
    I have brocoletti seedlings about 20cm tall now and i have tiny heads already appearing in the centre…. Am i supposed to cut them out now, or let them continue?
    I’ve never really succeeded in cutting the centre head out at the correct time.
    Kind regards, Shannon

    • Hi Shannon,

      I think that they are edible up until the time that the flowers appear. But I also think that they taste better, the younger they are. I would cut them just when the head starts becoming looser (i.e. as soon as the florets within a head start moving further apart).

  2. Hi
    I have planted a lime tree in my backyard about 4-5 years ago. It does not show much of a growth. Could anyone shed some light as to what I should do to improve its growth?

    • Hi Sumi,
      Do you ever give it fertiliser? Lime trees are very heavy feeders and need lots of high nitrogen fertiliser. An established tree needs 2Kg of, say 22:5:8 NPK fertiliser pa plus additional manure (2Kg if chicken and 6Kg if cow/horse), and a 5-year-old tree needs around half this amount. Apply two-thirds in spring and one-third in summer. Apply the manure in autumn so that, after breakdown, it is available to the plant from spring onwards.

  3. Hello Guy, This is a fabulous chart, such a great tool for the garden.

    I’m in the process of planning out a rotation crop calendar for the year and I’m wondering if I could please have a copy in Excel formula, not PDF.
    My reason is that I would like to add my own notes to it, things like companion plants, time to harvest from seed/seedlings, soil preferences etc.

    I’d also like to be able to filter/sort it by planting group/family, month, and lunar guide.

    We’ve moved house so I’m starting the whole garden from scratch and planning rather than haphazardly throwing anything in anywhere at anytime (albeit with reasonable success :o)

    Kind regards, Kim

    • Hi Kim,

      Sent.

      Guy

      • Hi Guy, I totally agree with Kim that this is a fabulous chart and I’d love an excel copy too. I’m also about to start a new garden from totally scratch – a building site where there has never been a garden, just compacted parking so it is going to be a real challenge to get the soil happy and start to plan layout.Your chart and advice will be a big help – I’m certainly going to need it. Regards, Anne

  4. I would like to plant my brocolli in a ‘brocolli only’ row about 70cm from my eggplant location and around 1.6m from my 2 year old asparagus plant.

    How far does brocolli radiate soil problems around the root/other rows?

    Thanks for your previous assistance too, greatly appreciated

  5. Just found your page. Love it. I live in Swan Hill, North Western Vic. I think this chart will be pretty close for here. Are there any other differences?
    Cheers Brian

    • Thanks for your kind words, Brian. I would guess that the timings would suit Swan Hill reasonably well.

  6. Hi, my capsicums/eggplant and tomatoes have been in the ground since October 2019 and have really only just flowered. Should i protect the plants from frost?
    Thanks in advance

    • Hi Shannon,

      Your capsicums and eggplants may well not produce mature fruit this year but, yes, if you protect them from frost, they may survive until next year.

      I don’t think that whether your tomatoes will produce mature fruit. They will die over Winter anyway.

  7. Hello!
    Is there a planting guide for south east melbourne?
    Thanks

    • South East Melbourne has a similar climate to North East Melbourne so the same planting guide applies.

  8. This is brilliant! I will print it and stick on my fridge?

    I am new to planting. I have bought a veggie box (about 2m x 1m). What do you recommend I plant in it? My garden has little to no shade, north facing.
    And what type of soil / fertiliser / manure do I need?

    Sorry, I’m asking a lot of you!

    • Keen to see the answer to this too!

    • Hi Nat,

      I did answer earlier but somehow my answer got lost.

      I suggest that you avoid all brassicas. A good and easy Winter crop is broad beans. Plus one or more of the leafy greens: lettuce, mizuna, mustard greens, rocket, silverbeet or spinach.

      Veggies grow best in compost, in which case you don’t need any additional fertiliser or manure in the first year. The problem with compost is that it disappears over time so each year you have to add more. I would suggest that you start with compost and then add soil (plus fertiliser or manure) in the second year.

  9. What about herbs in general? I have found parsley and basil. What about oregano, rosemary, dill, thyme and so on? Can I plant them whenever?

    • Hi Miriam,

      Herbs generally are not in the table because they are perennial and usually planted as seedlings rather than seeds. Parsley, basil and coriander are exceptions because they are annual and often planted as seeds. Here are my suggested timings for the planting of seeds of perennial herbs:

      Lemon balm: Oct or Nov.
      Lemongrass: Sep.
      Mint: Aug or Sep.
      Oregano: any time from Sep to May.
      Rosemary: Oct or Nov.
      Sage: Sep, Oct, Nov of Dec.
      Tarragon: Oct, Nov or Dec.
      Thyme: Aug.
      Vietnamese mint: Sep.

      I’ve never researched dill.

  10. Just checking for information on planting period for my dad.

  11. Hi Guy,

    Great guide you have provided!

    I have 4 quadrants in my patch (one has a large lemon tree at the back. I want to grow beetroot, beans, broccoli, capsicum, carrot, celery, cucumber, leek, lettuce, onion, parsnip, potato, pumpkin, silverbeet, corn, tomato and watermelon. Can you suggest what I should plant with each other in the separate quadrants?

    Thank you.

    Jo

    • Hi Jo,

      Cucumber, pumpkin, watermelon and corn in one bed. The cucurbits bed.

      Tomato and capsicum in another bed. The solanums bed.

      Beetroot, carrot, celery leek, onion and parsnip in another bed. The roots bed.

      Beans (in summer) and broccoli (in winter) in the fourth bed. The legumes/brassicas bed.

      Lettuce and silverbeet wherever you have space in any of the beds.

      Potatoes elsewhere, preferably in containers (once you plant them, they are really difficult to get rid of).

  12. When you say to plant tomatoes in August/September does this mean putting seeds in a tray at this time to plant out later or is this the time to plant out seedlings? I am very new at growing veggies.

    • Hi Keith,

      It is the time to plant the seeds.

      Guy

      • Okay, did you mean plant the seeds in the tray? Or straight into the garden? Thanks.

        • Hi Scott,

          Where the table says ‘seed trays’, that means plant the seeds in trays and keep in a greenhouse or undercover, planting out the seedlings in the garden at a later time. So, tomato seeds should initially be grown in seed trays and planted out later.

  13. Hi, great planting guide, but a pain in the proverbial to use (please no offense). If you can not provide floating bar showing the months, at least please make thicker vertical lines after every 3 months, so one does not have to count the months from the beginning, once the top of the chart disappears.

    Cheers, Ladislav.

    • Hi Ladislav,

      Your wish is my command! See the revised version above which will now automatically highlight the current month.

  14. I have just dug up some potatoes. What would be a good crop to plant in that bed please? I live in SW Victoria. Thank you

    • Hi Jane,

      You could plant any of the veggies that have a red circle in the February column or, even better given the current weather, wait a month or so and then choose from those that have a red circle in the March column. None of the possibilities in February and March are from the same family (solanums) as potatoes, so that’s good. Remember that, no matter how hard you have tried, you are bound to get some potatoes re-growing so I would avoid flimsy plants, such as carrots, which might inadvertently get destroyed as you pull out the potato re-growths.

  15. I think that, for vegetarians, growing seasonal vegetables is the best operation.

  16. I failed my vegie patch last year. Capsicums didn’t mature from flower and tomato plants were scrawny. I watered the patch with bore water that is brown and full of iron. Could this be poisoning the plants?

    • Try planting your capsicums and tomato plants later. We planted capsicums early which never grew and just stayed the same size. We then planted a 2nd lot in early October and they thrived. They need warmth. We are leaving planting until early October this year.

  17. A waxing or waning moon has no effect its gravitational pull. Moon phases are caused by illumination of the moon’s surface. When the moon, sun and Earth align, that’s when we see the biggest tides, and that’s at the new and full moon. See here for the science: https://moon.nasa.gov/overlay-phases/

  18. I think my potatoes would highly disagree with the chart on here. I’ve got Dutch cream, kipler and kestrel. All of them have been in a minimum of 6 weeks+. So I’m guessing that it’s a specific variety of spuds. Which 1 is it? I live in the Yarra valley. Which is north east of Melbourne.

    • Hi Woody,

      Thanks for your comment. I’ve had a chat with Gembrook Potatoes. Potatoes grow best over summer, and therefore the best time to plant them is in Spring. However, they can be sensibly planted in any month apart from Winter (June and July). Given that it is actually quite difficult to store potatoes successfully in Melbourne for long periods of time without them sprouting, succession planting throughout the year is a good approach. After thinking about all this, I have amended the guide to extend the planting period for potatoes.

  19. Hi all,

    I’ve been looking into increasing my winter food production and it occured to me that growing mushrooms might be worth a go. I’m just unsure as to how to go about it. I get the occasional field mushroom (see http://www.trufflemagic.com/blog/what-are-shrooms) which are very nice but I’d like more. Do I need to buy the spores? Or can I just pinch them from the existing mushroom population? Will I need to heat the growing area? I’ve got an old book on the topic but it insists that I need to make or purchase mushroom compost. Any advice or experience would be much appreciated.

    • You can buy innoculated grain spawn, or syringes or ready made kits from various companies. Aussie mushroom supplies are quite reputable and have a wide range of types available. Different mushrooms like to grow in different ways, but all need substrate for them to live off such as straw or woodchips or even new kitty litter. They need a humid, well-ventilated environment to produce the mushrooms, but when the mycellium is first colonising the substrate, it can be in a cupboard or under the couch etc. Collecting spore is something I haven’t any direct experience in but I know that you need a controlled environment, completely sterile and closed off from all the millions of competing fungi spores floating around in the air. You can use pieces of the mushroom mixed with cardboard or such however and continue to feed it more food (such as breaking up the colonised substrate, adding soaked sterilised bran and putting it in a new container) until it is large and strong enough to fruit. I can recommend Urban Kultures workshops on mushroom cultivation, they travel around the country and have a facebook community where people share ideas and seek help.. I am a part of a few online mushroom groups and the community is very supportive and open to sharing! Enjoy!

  20. My cats keep going to the bathroom in my veggie garden. I keep cleaning it up but will this affect my vegetables?

    • Yes. Shoot the cats and bury them in the garden.

      • LOL!!

        Or if you are not keen on killing kitty, sprinkle some coffee grounds and bury some tea bags in your soil. Should keep the cats off your patch.

        • Sadly doesn’t seem to work. They are not my cats and I think I’d get in trouble for shooting them. 🙂

          I’ve tried coffee, tea and a number of other ‘foolproof’ remedies but the only thing that works is a mesh tunnel over my raised beds.

        • Orange peel – just chopped up and sprinkled around. I also went to the Dingo Discovery Centre and purchased some dingo ‘poo/wee mix’ and painted that around the perimeter of my property. This worked a treat until we had a heavy rain.

  21. I am a beginner gardener and don’t know where to start. Can anyone help please 🙂

    • It depend what you like to eat, but first you have to prepare the garden with fertiliser or manure and get a garden calendar.

  22. Can I grow tomatoes in the same place year on year?
    Also is their anything that I can grow with tomatoes to assist with bug minimisation

    • Hi Dale,

      Re location: you should change where you grow your tomatoes each year, preferably as part of an organised crop rotation.

      Re companion plants: many people plant basil alongside their tomatoes.

      • Hi Dale,

        As Guy said, tomatoes and basil grow well together, basil protects tomatoes and they go well on your plate together too. Nasturtiums protect a lot of veggie plants, in particular, red and orange nasturtiums will deter aphids and yellow nasturtiums are a favourite meal for aphids, they are attracted to yellow nasturtiums, so plant yellow away from your patch and interplant red and orange in with the veggies.

        Re crop rotation, which is required so as to add and/replace nutrients to the soil, if you plant the same thing they will draw the nutrients out of the soil and nothing is replaced…therefore you will not have a good crop in a year or two and possibly some soil disease. If you have a small space, you can interplant with other plants which will not only help protect each other but will also add some nutrients to the soil…google interplanting with, whatever you want to grow, in your case, tomatoes.

        Just an FYI, you can grow tomatoes with asparagus, basil, any one of the cabbage family, carrots, parsly, onions, rosemary and sage … happy gardening:)

      • I had good results planting tomatoes in the same bed 3 years running. However I’d suggest rotating if you possibly can for better results.

        As for companion planting, I normally grow red/orange marigolds with the tomatoes – seems to help keep pests at bay.

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