Zone 0: Rotate your preserves, new to the back and old to the front. Now is a good time for cyclone preparation. As well as non-perishable food, you have emergency stores is in the garden and under the ground. The tops of plants may be damaged in a cyclone but the tubers will be intact. Check seed stocks, look for older use by dates and use these first. Decide what to order for the coming dry season.
Zone 1: Replace mulch as it breaks down. Succession planting of mustard, French sorrel and other humidity tolerant greens can continue. Harvest grasshoppers and feed to fish or poultry for a treat. Start working out planting plans for the coming dry season, bearing in mind that new seeds can be planted into existing beds. April is usually the best time to plant tomatoes, lettuces and cabbages.
Zone 2: Begin to harvest taro, cassava, sweet potato and yams. Prepare beds for onions and carrots.
Zone 3: Poultry free ranging in the orchard will clean up the ground, weeds and fallen fruit. This will help to mix in the fertiliser and the old mulch prior to laying new mulch. Replacing the mulch towards the end of the wet season maximises water storage. Peanut butter fruit will be having another flush of fruit to be shared with humans, fish and poultry.
Zone 4: Zone 4 on an urban block may be the fence line and far back corner, where you can grow very upright plants, particularly sweet leaf, ginger, West Indian arrowroot, lemon grass, and comfrey and gotu kola as a ground cover. These plants provide privacy, wind protection and food. These can all be harvested for mulching material. Harvesting now allows for regrowth allowing the plants to build reserves for the long dry season.
Zone 5: This may be the verge which can be planted to edible natives and needs to be weeded and mulched.
WARM TEMPERATE climate
Zone 0: Sourdough ferment for making pizza dough. Sourdough also works well to kill snails, and chickens can safely eat the snails afterwards. Sweet potato and new potatoes are sprouting on the side bench. Kangkong is still growing well in a pot in the warm sunlight indoors. Pick and hang bunches of soft tea herbs before they start dying back. Tea bushes such as Lemon and Aniseed Myrtle will stay available on the bushes to pick as needed over winter.
Zone 1: Weeds are useful in liquid manure drums, some are great as food for the worm farm and fresh bedding in the poultry houses. Careful to feed the worm farm with the weeds that are not capable of sprouting. Sometimes the hardest part of keeping a worm-farm in a permaculture garden is finding enough food for them because most food scraps are fed to the chickens and geese. The worm farm is valuable to provide organic fertilizer and rich potting mix. As the months cool put new delicate seedlings closer to home in a suntrap, for more observation.
Zone 2: Last of the chicks are hatching. You can include some of the most invasive but non-toxic weeds such as madiera vine (Anredera cordifolia) in their diet. Once the chicks are teenage, clear out the henhouse and give them fresh bedding made from fresh grass clippings and weeds. Old bedding is rich material to put on new garden beds. As grape vines finishing fruiting you can chop them back hard. The clippings make great mulch. Grape vine wood is excellent as smoky BBQ fuel.
Zone 3: This part of the permaculture garden is full of finishing pumpkin vines. Geese can be let in when the pumpkins finish.
Zone 4: The trees may need management to maintain rich diversity. Pruning enables density and helps maintain the glades that are used by lower plants. Prunings are handy to protect young plants in Zones 1, 2 and 3. Now is a great time to build a teepee frame out of bamboo, ready to prop and dry out woody weeds such as coral tree branches and lantana. When the pile is full you can have a bon-fire with the neighbours in winter or use the fuel for the pizza oven. Fences are built around young banana stools and bamboo shoots to stop the geese from attacking them. Old bananas stools are cut after harvesting, sliced in half with a simple bread knife and the geese love to eat it.
Zone 5: Wild area edges provide fuel for the woodstove to enjoy through winter. The edge is maintained to continue to provide a good fire break. You can continue to plant more native seedlings into Zone 5. Seedlings that have started in the mulched intensive gardens (including Macadamia and Davidson plums) can be relocated in Zone 5. March is perfect for hanging a hammock and reading a book after these few morning chores.
Zone 1: The cooler March weather means that it’s possible to start sowing seeds directly into the garden again without the danger of them immediately drying out. Many root crops can be sown directly in March, for instance carrots, radishes, parsnips and beets. Green leafy crops should also be a focus this month. Whilst it’s still warm but not too hot, lettuce, mustard greens, rocket, and mizuna should all grow quickly and provide a harvest within a couple of months or even weeks. Broad beans and peas are also good crops to sow now – soak the seeds in water for a few hours before you plant to speed germination.
Your veggie garden should still be very productive with warm season crops however, so it can be hard to know where to fit the new plantings. It is worth experimenting with planting new seeds between and around still-producing plants. For instance at this time of year with productive tomatoes still on garden trellises, we can plant our climbing peas directly into the soil at the base of the tomatoes. They germinate there but put on little growth due to the shade and competition from the tomatoes, but as soon as the first frost hits the tomatoes the peas are ready to zoom away.
Zone 2: There is nothing that sparks quite as much controversy amongst small-scale vegetable growers than the right time to plant garlic. One body of thought suggests March: “Plant on the full moon in March, harvest on the full moon in December’ is one adage, as well as the similar “Plant on the autumn equinox, harvest on the summer solstice”. But there are plenty of central Victorian growers who swear by a mid-winter planting… each to their own. Maybe when the last year’s unharvested garlic starts to sprout in the garden, it’s time to plant the stored stuff.
Don’t underestimate the amount of garlic you use over the year. If you use two bulbs a week, plant a hundred cloves now. You can plant cloves you find sprouting at the grocers or in the kitchen cupboard, use a specialist nursery for unusual varieties, or buy some organic garlic to plant (beware of buying industrially grown garlic for planting unless you can see it already sprouting; it may have been dipped in a chemical sprouting inhibitor). Divide up the bulbs and plant the bigger outside cloves point-upwards just below the surface of the soil. The smaller cloves in the middle of the bulb are probably better eaten. As well as being a useful plant in the veggie garden, remember that garlic is an excellent companion plant for deciduous fruit trees – plant plenty throughout your orchard.