The days are cooling down, but the ocean remains warm. Southerly swells are greeted with open arms, the citrus are ripening and the swapping and trading is in full swing as we make the most of the dwindling daylight hours and dusty pink sunsets.
In Autumn, we may have already planted our Winter veg such as broccoli or cauliflower, and be putting our peas and last succession of leafy greens in. We might also be looking to get seeds into the ground so they can develop during the cooling temperatures and shortening days leading into Winter. If you’re starting your garden project in Autumn, ensure your plants will have enough time to grow before Winter. Do they need 4 weeks, 8 weeks or more to grow to a good size before the slowness of winter sets in?
Whatever stage you're at in the garden, now is the perfect time to plant all of those cool season veggies, herbs and leafy greens. Below is my step-by-step plan of action for you for autumn edibles.
If you need some garden soil, potting mix, compost or fertiliser, give your local nursery a call and see if they will deliver. Small businesses need our support more than ever, so I have a feeling they’ll go out of their way to get you what you need.
If you have a garden already or a few pots at home, pull out any plants from summer that have finished producing. Top up with at least 100 millimetres of new potting mix or compost, and then add an organic fertiliser such as blood and bone or dynamic lifter.
On top of that, add a layer of homemade compost or worm castings as this will create good soil structure, add nutrients, improve water-holding capacity and add living soil biology.
Order your seeds
If you’re wondering how to get your hands on seeds, the easiest way to do so is to order online – head to our shop to order your Autumn/Winter seed bundle.
Plant your seeds as per the instructions. Full sun during the cooler season will be fine for all of these, at the very minimum six hours per day is required for a good, quick harvest. Watercress is the exception to this rule and doesn’t mind the shade.
For larger seeds like beetroot, spinach, radish and pea, you only need just one seed in each hole. Fine seeds such as lettuce, rocket and carrot can be sprinkled and thinned out later, but you can assume that 90 per cent of seed will germinate so don’t waste them.
You can have hundreds of seeds in the one packet depending how fine they are, so don’t empty all the contents in the first day. You can keep succession planting over several weeks, which will save you from getting a glut of produce all at once.
Once the soil cools down in winter, germination will reduce or stop altogether. You’ll be simply using what’s growing at this point and you may want to order seeds for spring.
Keep the soil damp by using a watering can or light mist hose nozzle and, if you’ve got it, add some seaweed extract and worm juice to new seedlings at this stage.
If you find caterpillars are a problem, order some Dipel online to spray onto the leaves of the plants getting eaten. It’s a naturally occurring bacteria made by the CSIRO and is organic and safe for food gardens.
Radishes are super quick and easy (and make you look like a great gardener no matter the truth). Beetroots are great as they store well and you can use the leaves in salads. I love garlic particularly around flu season, so I’ll be putting about 20 cloves in the ground. Beetroot, cabbage, and carrots are great for making kraut and peas are a good winter climber to utilise any sunny vertical space you might have.
I’ve included a plant list that you could order for autumn below. Obviously this is not an extensive list of all that you can plant now – the range of native, exotic, heirloom, rare and deliciously peculiar plants is endless – but let’s just keep it simple for now.
- Kohl rabi
Herbs and leafy greens:
- Salad burnet
- Mustard greens
- Lemon Sorrel