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Onion weed is taking over

Allium Triquetrum, commonly known as Onion Weed or Angled Onion, has been declared a noxious weed in Yarra Ranges Council Shire. A weed, in general, is a plant which is growing in the wrong place. A noxious weed, by definition, is a plant that causes environmental or economic harm or that has the potential to cause such harm. They can also present risks to human health. Onion weed is a noxious weed for most of the southern parts of Australia.

Onion weed is a perennial (reoccurring) and has thin green strappy leaves growing from a small white round bulb. When cut or crushed it gives off an onion smell. White bell-shaped flowers grow at the top of a long stalk in Spring and form seeds in the Summer months.

The weed is spread by the wind blowing the seeds into new areas, as well as the formation of small bulblets attached to the parent bulb. It thrives in damp, semi shaded conditions, which is why the Yarra Ranges is so susceptible to it. In our area, it is easily spotted in gardens, lawns, roadside, ditches and paddocks, the white flowers tells us that the bulbs are dividing and new onion weed is spreading.  It grows easily and quickly chokes the ground, impacting on the other plants. Weed identification and control are important parts of environmental management.

One positive about onion weed is that it is classed as an edible weed. All parts of the onion weed are edible- flowers, stems and bulbs. The stems and leaves have a mild spring onion or leek flavour, whilst the bulb has a mild garlic flavour. Each of these parts can be used in cooking such as stir fries, soups and salads.

Certificate II in Horticulture at Cire Training covers plant identification, propagation, irrigation, pruning, transplanting, as well as weeds management.

In the vegetable garden

As the seasons change from summer to autumn, it’s time to think ahead to what winter vegetables you’d like to harvest in the coming months to add to your dinner menu. Now is the perfect time to get to it and start planning, preparing and planting your vegetable gardens for this coming winter.

There are a number of winter harvest vegetables that can be planted from mid-February and into March. Plants such as garlic cloves, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, leek, winter cabbage and Brussels sprouts can be planted as seedlings now in order for them to have time to mature.

Now Brussels sprouts may not be everyone’s idea of the go to vegetable, but even children (who at times are rather fussy eaters) have learnt to love Brussels sprouts. Brussels sprouts can be steamed, pan fried with a drizzle of olive oil with lashings of freshly ground black pepper and a handful of diced bacon thrown in for good measure. Resulting in a delicious home grown side dish that even the sceptics will grow to love.  If the Brussels sprouts can be a family dinner winner why not try growing them this year in the garden and add them to your winter menu.

Although this summer hasn’t been a scorcher; in many areas it has been a dry summer period with low rain fall. The soil could possibly benefit from some additional nutrients; for example chook or horse manure, click here for the ABC Gardening Australia Fact Sheet on manure nutrients. Paddock horse manure can be added to the vegetable garden beds and perhaps a bit of compost. Adding back to the soil doesn’t need to cost a fortune nor require man-made chemicals. Horse or chook manure is often seen for sale on the side of the road by some enterprising young person costing around 2 or 3 dollars per bag. Why not pick up a few bags next time you’re out and about, and combine well using a fork or spade with the soil? Don’t forget to water in the manure afterwards to make sure it mixes well together.

Planning ahead is the key to success in the vegetable patch. Some winter vegetables can take from 12 weeks to 20 weeks to fully develop. By planting some varieties over the next few weeks hopefully this will ensure that by mid-June and into July you should have some vegetables ready to harvest for the table.

If you are thinking about sowing seeds this coming weekend, you could consider using a small bench top greenhouse or seed tray (purchased or home made), this video will help you get started. Sowing seeds this way helps offer additional protection from weather extremes and makes thinning out the developed seedlings prior to planting easier at bench level rather than bending or crouching down in the garden itself. I would recommend this method particularly if you plan on sowing seeds rather than planting out seedlings.

So whether you have a backyard entirely dedicated to a vegetable garden, have a small plot in a community garden or perhaps you have a few pots out on your verandah, no matter the size or shape of your vegetable garden why not start planning, preparing and planting out your space this weekend in readiness for a bumper winter harvest in the coming cooler months.

If you would like to take your interest in gardening further and make a career out of it? Why not enrol in our Certificate II in Horticulture – AHC20410. This course is the first step to getting a job in horticulture, click here for further details.