In the Temperate Kitchen Garden this autumn
The temperate kitchen garden in autumn is all about planning for winter, planting hearty veg and preserving your harvest for the colder months.
Linda Ross has plenty of tips on what you can do in your patch right now.
Photo - Luisa Brimble
The bulk of our winter vegetable plot is taken up by members of the cabbage family. They are planted out in early April and grow slowly for a harvest in mid-winter and early spring. We love cabbages in raw winter coleslaws with loads of dill, lemon juice and mayonnaise; and cauliflowers baked whole for a Sunday roast, slathered in caper butter sauce. Plant into improved soil and add wormwood (Artemesia) in the corners of the garden bed. The strong smell of this plant helps to repel cabbage moth attack.
The cabbage family. Photo - shutterstock
A good pair of boots is essential gardening clobber, and a great investment. Mine are Dubarry, made in Ireland, totally toasty, completely waterproof and still going strong after six years of constant cool-weather wear.
Boots by Dubarry of Ireland. Photo - Luisa Brimble
Easter is garlic-planting time. Improve the soil before pushing individual cloves thumb-deep into rows or around the edges of vegetable garden beds. Overplant with pansies or violas.
Conditions are good for planting citrus. Dig a whole twice as big as the pot to allow the roots easy growth.
Avocados need a friend for maximum pollination and harvest. Choose one from group a and b and ensure they flower at the same time. If space is limited try planting two different varieties in the one hole. We like ‘Bacon’ and ‘Hass’. Check Daleys Fruit Tree Nursery for great online information.
Plant a dwarf mulberry tree in full sun. Prune hard in winter to contain size and allow you to reach fruit without reaching for the ladder. Feed mid-winter with blood and bone and fruit tree fertiliser. The black English mulberry is the common variety.
Conditions are good for planting citrus. Photo - Luisa Brimble
Sow a last batch of beetroot seed before the temperature dips too low. Try peach-coloured ‘Burpees Golden’. Soak seeds overnight before pressing them 1cm deep into tilled earth. (Don’t add fresh manure before planting as beetroot doesn't like it!)
Leeks and onions are best sown in succession, planting 20 seedlings 5cm apart in 1m rows every few weeks, depending on your needs. Expect a harvest of 2kg per square m.
Sow a row of lettuce every fortnight, directly where they are to grow. Pick the outer leaves continually as they grow or harvest the whole thing at once. Halve it and pour salty melted butter over for a delicious side dish.
Photo - Paul McGuire / Shutterstock
While it can seem brutal to pull out summer crops that are still yielding dinners, you need to act now to catch the last of the warm weather to kickstart seedlings for winter and early spring crops.
Pull out ginger, turmeric and galangal before temperatures plummet. Offsets can be replanted at the end of winter for next season’s crop. Ginger rhizomes can be sliced and pickled; chopped and candied; grated and frozen in teaspoon mounds on parchment, then kept in a covered container in the freezer, or stored whole in the fridge.
Pull out all tomatoes, basil, eggplant and zucchini for one last big batch of ratatouille. Leftovers freeze well and can form the basis of a winter minestrone.
Pickle the last of the beetroot and carrots and make one last batch of relish with whatever you can use fresh.
Ginger. Photo - Baitong333 / shutterstock