Gardening Tips for Autumn
Finally, autumn has arrived! Autumn is short – typically starting early April and extending into May. 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.
Re-grow free plants from kitchen scraps or recycle
as compost ingredients. Tired depleted soil won’t grow healthy plants, so prepare your pot or plot first. Learn how with 3 simple steps.
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
Aphids, QLD fruit fly, slugs and snails (they love the wet) and you may start to see white cabbage butterflies. ☹
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
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Happy gardening and enjoy the harvest!
About our Contributor:
Anne is a speaker, author, workshop facilitator, organic gardening coach and educator. In 2017, Anne won the Sunshine Coast Sustainable Business Woman
of the Year Award. Anne is passionate about inspiring people to improve their health by growing nutrient-dense food in small spaces and offers a home
visit consultation service for one-on-one learning. With a focus on sustainable practices and working with nature, she shares free organic gardening
tips and tutorials to save time, money and energy at themicrogardener.com