It's getting cooler and the days are getting shorter. Less sunlight and warmth means our plants will slow down their growth, so a lot of what we plant in our garden now is really for spring.
This month is a great time for planting trees, shrubs and spring bulbs.
In the Vegetable Patch
Annual summer crops in the garden are coming to their end now. The days are becoming too short and too cool to redden tomatoes or ripen eggplants and capsicums.
If you're removing your tomato plants, let the green ones ripen in a warm place inside. If you have a greenhouse you can extend your tomato harvests into late autumn.
Late maturing pumpkins left on the vine will be ready to harvest soon. Wait until the vines have died back and the stalk starts to brown and harden. Leave about 6cm of stalk on when cutting pumpkins off the vine to help them store long-term.
Kūmara can also be harvested this month. Carefully dig them up before the frosts come. They will need to then cure in a warm dry place for a couple of weeks to toughen their skins so they can store longer.
When removing old crops, you can cut them down as opposed to yanking them from the soil. Pulling them breaks up the carefully built soil networks underneath and removes the food source for the microorganisms in the soil. If you just chop them down at the root level, the roots will break down and return nutrients to the soil.
Keep your soil covered with mulch. Mulches made up of chopped herbaceous plants, leaf mould, compost, and shredded seaweed will help keep weeds at bay and the soil life happy over the winter.
Harvesting and Sowing
Keep planting and sowing fast-growing salad greens to ensure you do have something to harvest in the winter. Early turnips and radishes are also quick-growing and add a little more variety to your harvest.
When harvesting lettuces, picking the outer leaves as you need them, as opposed to harvesting the whole plant will allow you to stretch your harvest throughout winter.
Spring Bulbs and Flowers
It's time to get those spring bulbs in the ground now if you want flowers for spring. Planting them sooner rather than later gives them time to establish and they will flower better in spring.
Choose a spot with good drainage so your bulbs don't rot. Dig a hole as deep as the bulb is big and plant the bulb with the pointy bit facing up.
Summer flowers left to go to seed now will self-seed and bloom once spring is here.
Have a clean-up in your garden and get rid of any dead, diseased, or spent plants.
Deadhead your perennial flowers to allow the plant to use its energy for the next burst of blooms. Cut back your perennial herbs to encourage some fresh growth.