In our Mediterranean-like climate autumn, not spring, is the best time to plant. But when in autumn? Usually I say with the autumn rains, but if they don’t arrive till June which can happen, you are best to plant when the worst of the heat is over and the ground is still warm. Usually by late March you can safely plant, and even if the rains haven’t come you only have a short time to baby and water new plantings before the season really does break. Planting in autumn allows plants six to nine months to get established before the onslaught of next summer. Of course, there are some exceptions – tropical or semi-tropical plants from hibiscus and frangipanis, to citrus and passion fruit must only be planted when the ground is warm or it will set them back, so wait till spring for these.
And of course, whatever you plant, spend some time improving the soil and giving your plants a head start. To quote the garden wisdom yet again, ‘Plant a $1 plant in a $10 hole’. Whether preparing for these new plantings or working on existing garden beds, adding organic matter in the form of aged animal manures and compost is hugely beneficial. If preparing a new bed, aim to fork this organic matter through the soil to forks depth. With existing garden beds where you are unable to dig around without disturbing established plants, simply throw compost on top of the soil and let the worms work it through for you. Using up your compost also makes room for you to start a new batch, incorporating the leaves of deciduous trees as they fall.
Feed your whole garden and lawn now with organic based fertilizer. As always, it is best to feed on a cool day and water it in afterwards, or, if you are clever enough to time your feeding properly, feed just before the rain and let the rain wash it in for you.