A gardening tip: plant on Grand Final Day, not Cup Day

University of Melbourne Newsroom    |   26 September 2013

TomatoesEver since anyone can remember, Melbourne Cup Day – the first Tuesday in November – has been  the   day for gardeners to start planting tomatoes in Melbourne, when warmer overnight temperatures are more reliable.

But University of Melbourne “urban horticulturalist” Dr Chris Williams says due to climate change, AFL Grand Final Day, the last Saturday in September, should replace the time-honoured planting signpost in gardening folklore.

Urban Horticulturalist Dr Chris Williams, from the Melbourne School of Land and Environment, University of Melbourne ( Burnley Campus) says that overnight temperatures through winter into early spring have warmed over the past ten years to make Grand Final Day the new seasonal signpost for tomato planting.

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Once-upon-a-time the wise gardener would hold off planting tomatoes until Cup Day because those chilly spring nights could result in frost damage.   But with this pattern of milder winter and spring nights you can plant summer crops like tomatoes a good month earlier.

And, what’s more, the warmer temperatures also mean Melbourne gardeners can now successfully grow heat loving crops such as Sweet Potatoes once regarded as a from-Sydney-and-north home veggie.

Meteorological data suggests this month is on track to set a record for the average minimum temperatures for September in Melbourne continuing the record minimum temperatures of July and August this year.

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