24 Apr, 2020
Gardening Tips for Autumn
This time of year is a LOT more comfortable to enjoy your garden than summer. With lower humidity and cooler temperatures, many pest insects exit stage left and there are so many more plant varieties you can grow.
April and May are prime planting times for our autumn and winter crops. We only have short seasons during autumn and winter (June/July) so it’s best to make the most of them. That means getting your timing right and being prepared to plant ASAP! Pests and disease problems are minimal so why not take advantage of nature’s window and get planting?
To maintain momentum, ideally sow little and often. This is known as succession planting, so you enjoy a continuous harvest of fresh ingredients. Planting a few seasonal seeds or seedlings each week or two will keep a constant supply of food on your plate.
As we have had the benefit of recent rain, the soil should have a good reservoir of moisture. Perfect for transplanting seedlings and fruit trees. Pre-soaking in liquid seaweed first helps minimise transplant shock and boosts nutrients.
Preparing for Planting
With all the summer growth, there are plenty of plants and grass clippings to provide free organic matter to make compost. Chop and drop arrowroot, comfrey, old pumpkin or cucumber vines as ‘green waste’ and turn this abundance into nutrient-rich healthy soil to feed your garden.
What to Plant Now
All your leafy greens will do well from this point forward. Lettuces, kale, coriander (yes, it’s finally cool enough to sow those seeds), rocket, silverbeet, rainbow chard, Asian greens and celery to name a few. Grow these herbs and leafy vegetables as microgreens for fresh fast ingredients too.
A few other crops to consider include: Peas (who can live without them?), beans, broccoli, cabbage, capsicum, cauliflower, eggplant, leeks (ready just in time for soups), nasturtiums, pineapple sage, spring onions, strawberries and most herbs including dill and borage. Sow flowers like sweet peas, marigolds, calendula, cosmos and viola for colour and pollinators.
If you haven’t yet sown your seed potatoes or garlic, hold off until a root crop day later in the month (22-23rd, 29-30th) but prepare your soil well now. Both these crops do best in soil rich in nutrients (plenty of compost) and mulch.
What to watch out for
Happily, you should expect to see grasshopper numbers start reducing as the temperatures become cooler! The birds in my garden are having to work harder for a free feed as already the grasshoppers are becoming scarce.
Remember a healthy garden ecosystem includes a BALANCE of pests to predators. i.e. pest insects are part of a food chain and you need more predators than pests! Plant flowers to provide nectar and pollen for bees, pollinators and beneficial predator insects. Many of these predators rely on nectar as a food source as adult insects, but their larvae eat pests like aphids and scale. Hoverflies and ladybirds are a couple of examples.
Garden Tasks this Month
- If you haven’t yet mulched your garden after the rain, do so now. Hold all that valuable moisture IN for the growing season. Rainwater also is rich in nitrogen whereas town water contains chlorine and fluoride chemicals.
- Fertilise citrus and fruit trees if you haven’t already. New season fruits and flowers place a high demand for nutrients on your trees. Topping up the soil ‘pantry’ ensures you will have a bountiful harvest of sweet juicy fruits.
- Harvest your basil and make pesto before it sets seed, or save seeds for spring planting.
- Prune and remove summer crops that have finished. Use in compost, liquid feeds or as mulch.
Helpful Gardening Resources
- Subtropical Planting Guide– Designed specifically for our local climate’s five seasons.
- Moon Calendar Gardening Guide– Work with the moon’s cycles each month for optimum planting times.
- Microgreens Growing Guide Chart– A comprehensive guide to growing a wide variety of herbs and vegetables.
- Guide to Using Kitchen Herbs for Health– How to guide on growing and using 25 kitchen and medicinal herbs.
- Seed Starting Guide: Quick Tips for Starting Seeds Successfully– Everything you need to know!
- Design Tips for a Productive Kitchen Garden
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Happy gardening and enjoy the harvest!