Welcome to month two of Autumn!
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.
Seeds to sow now: lettuce, rocket, kale, broad beans, beetroot, carrots, bok choy, pak choy, tatsoi, peas, snow peas, chard, silverbeet, coriander, turnips, swedes, radish
Plant from punnets now: cauliflower, kale, broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, silverbeet, perpetual spinach, chard
In the Vegetable Patch
Annual summer crops in the garden are really 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 might still be harvesting some autumn tomatoes!
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 longterm.
After the chopping down the summer crops, add some extra organic material to your soil to make up for nutrients lost and used up in the hot summer, things like aged manure, compost, worm castings, sheep pellets.
When removing old crops, 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. This especially important for beans and peas which hold nitrogen in their roots. Once the roots break down, the nitrogen is returned back into the soil in a way that other plants can take it up.
If it’s been raining at your place, keep your soil covered to avoid nutrients being washed away. Mulches made up of things like straw, leaf mould, compost and chopped up seaweed will help keep the goodness in, plants warm and weeds at bay.
If you are only just planting out your broccoli and cauliflowers seedlings now you might not be eating those until late winter/early spring. Help them to grow efficiently but keeping up their nutrients! Brassicas are heavy feeders so ensure they have a healthy bed to be planted into full of compost, aged manure and other natural goodness. Give them a feed with some homemade liquid fertilisers for an added boost.
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 Autumn 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.
Sow some seed or plant some autumn flower seedlings to keep the pollinators going when the weather turns cold. Things like:
Alyssum, cornflowers, dianthus, foxglove, stock…etc
Have a clean up in your garden and get rid of any dead, diseased or spent plants. Weeding should be easier now too. The rain will have loosened the soil and the cooler air and less sun mean weed growth will be lessened. 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.