While today is the first official day of autumn our somewhat mild summer has already been dwindling for some weeks.
I love this time of year in the garden because there is so much to do and the cooler weather means that it is much more comfortable to be outside working.
Typically, autumn and winter is the establishing period in the garden. Gardens that are established in autumn or winter tend to have greater success over those planted during the warmer months. It is true that the warmer months are a major growth period for many plants but, it can be quite a challenging time for young plants during hot spells. Think about it this way: plants that are planted in early to mid summer have to endure all the stress of the harsh sun and constant lack of water. This makes it much more difficult for them to establish themselves. Plants need plenty of water for root development but, when it’s hot, evaporation is high and this means young plants need to work extra hard just to keep their leaves from desiccating. In order to survive young plants will put the bulk of their energy into saving their leaves meaning that there is less available energy for them to establish their roots. Whereas plants established during the cooler months may have up to 6 months to settle into their new environment and establish their root systems before the hot dry weather sets in.
So use this next 6 months to get prepared for the coming spring and summer. This is the best time to feed your soil. If you get your soil preparation done now you will be rewarded come spring. I’ll talk more on this topic in the coming months.
Just in case you’re wondering what you should be doing out in the garden for the next few weeks I have summed the important things for you below:
In The Vegie Patch
There is so much that can be planted as seedlings or sown in trays to be planted from mid-autumn.
Sow in trays now (to be transplanted in 4-6 weeks):
These are all best sown in trays, undercover (in a cold frame or hot house) and transplanted after about 4-6 weeks.
Celery, Celeriac, Endive, Lettuce, Leaf Amaranth.
Some vegetables, like Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Collards and Leeks, Spring Onion, Shallot may be sown direct but at this time of year are best sown in trays and transplanted in mid-autumn.
Plant as seedlings now: Bok Choy Broccoli, Cauliflower Chinese Broccoli, Kale, Kohlrabi, Pak Choi, Silverbeet, Spinach Tatsoi. These can also be planted direct.
Sow direct now: Beetroot, Broadbeans, Carrot, Corn Salad (or Lambs lettuce), Fennel, Mibuna, Mitsuba, Mustard, Parsley, Radish, Rocket, Swede, Turnip, Spring Onions. Coriander, if sown now in cooler weather, will be slow bolt.
In The Orchard
Pick up and dispose of any fallen fruit.
Prune off any limbs that may have been damaged by heavy hanging fruit.
Check over your citrus trees. We should be on the hunt for scale at this time of year. If you notice ants traipsing up and down the trunk or branches be sure that they will be farming either aphids or scale for their sugary secretions. If numbers are low you can either squash them, or squirt them off with the hose. If numbers are high you can use white oil for the scale and organic products like eco-Neem for the aphids or whiteflies. Don’t forget to look out for good bugs like ladybirds, or lacewings and their larvae. Be careful not to kill them too. I find that if these good, predatory insects are around it’s a good practice to have a few sacrificial lambs, like my kales for example. The ‘good guys’ (predators) can stay well fed on a couple that I won’t be treating.
Autumn is a good time to feed your plants, fruit trees in particular. Give them a dose of trace elements (rock dust) and handful of chook manure pallets (or pearls from the girls if you have some). A sprinkle of potash around the base of citrus of will help with the formation fruit. Watch out for signs of iron deficiency and treat with iron chelates as a foliar spray where necessary.
As for us, we have been very busy here over the past few weeks. We’ve been making use of the cool weather, which is why the posts have been a bit light. We’ve removed a row of cypress from the backyard, which was a big job and we’ve been doing a bit of fencing with the leftover wood, which was one way we were able to recycle the trees we had to bring down. I have been snapping away and will post our activities over the coming week.
Chickie Boombah has also been working hard. After two long years she finally got to the end of her The Devil Wears Prada paperback. She thought it was a great book, delicious in fact. Now now she’s moved on to renovating her hat box.