The last month of Autumn!
In May the garden takes on a green theme but around me, the leaves of the deciduous trees and autumn flowers bring the colour.
Seeds to sow now: rocket, kale, broad beans, bok choy, tatsoi, silverbeet, coriander, turnips, radish
Keep the seedlings coming
Keep planting out greens seedlings. If your garden isn't getting much sun, planting greens such as silverbeet, rocket, bok choy and tatsoi is a great way to ensure you always have something to harvest. Keep the colours going in your garden by adding in colourful vegetables such as rainbow chard and purple kale.
Brassica seedlings planted now will be ready for you in late spring. A little forward planning like this will keep you harvesting all year long.
If your garden is exposed to heavy frosts or snow, creating some sort of cold frame can extend your winter growing capabilities. Frost cloth or D.I.Y glasshouses using old windows or heavy-duty clear plastic will help to protect the more vulnerable salad greens.
Slugs and Snails
The cooler wet weather means slugs and snail numbers are on the rise. Protect your little seedlings by setting out snail beer traps or going on a snail hunt when it's dark.
Catching them red-handed for a few nights will reduce their numbers. Once you've caught them, drown or squish them so they don't crawl back to your plants. Snails and slugs can travel surprisingly far!
Now is a great time to plant garlic if you haven't done so already. If you're waiting until the shortest day of the year to plant, take the time this month to prep the bed.
Keep Your Soil Covered
It's not in nature's nature to be left uncovered. Any bare soil will soon be covered in weeds unless you do something about it. Layer down mulches (straw, hay, chopped leaves...) or sow a green crop.
Green crops are densely sown seeds that will create a cover over your soil so it’s not left bare in winter. This keeps the micro-organisms and bacteria under your soil fed and happy. It also suppresses weed growth and helps keep the nutrients in your soil.
Some green crop seeds also provide nitrogen as some are ‘nitrogen fixers’. Seeds such as blue lupin, lucerne and broad beans are nitrogen-fixing which means they take up nitrogen from the soil and ‘fix’ it in these small nodules at the end of their roots. Come spring, you can chop down this cover crop and let it break down back into the soil. The nitrogen from these little nodules will then be released back into the soil in a form that other plants can then take up and absorb.
Don't forget to use what nature is giving you this autumn. Whether it's using the leaves to make leaf mould or adding spent plants to your compost, it doesn't matter as long as it eventually makes its way back to the soil.
The worms, your plants and your soil eco-system will love it.