Kitchen Garden: Autumn
We’re picking basket-loads of dark green kale, snacking on mandarins, pickling the beetroot harvest and turning the last tomatoes into bottles of sauce.
From patch to plate autumn is full of colour and flavour.
All in for allium
Start now for a fine harvest of garlic and onions. The whole Ross family helps out with garlic planting, pushing in 100-150 garlic cloves to thumb-depth, 5cm apart. The variety doesn’t matter. To benefit from garlic’s strong scent, which naturally deters pests, dot plants around the garden, or choose a big bed for mass planting.
Garlic’s strong scent naturally deters pests. Photo -David Kay / Shutterstock.com
The onion adage is to plant on the shortest day of the year and harvest on the longest. Last year we enjoyed big fat red onions, sown in autumn, planted in winter and harvested for Christmas. Leeks should be planted at the bottom of a 20cm trench, which you gradually fill as they grow, to whiten the stem. Spring onions can go in any time, a little and often!
Get winter root crops in. Beetroot, parsnip, carrots and leeks should go into soil that has not been recently improved.
Get those carrots in for your hungry little gardeners. Photo – Hannah MacCowatt
There is no better time to plant fruit trees: stone fruit, pome fruit, citrus, figs, mulberry and feijoa can all be planted now. Ask a specialist fruit tree nursery in your area to recommend the best variety for your region.
There is no better time to plant fruit trees like feijoa. Photo – Robin Powell
Feed citrus at the change of every season (skip winter in cooler climates). Try Gyganic or Dynamic Lifter Plus Fruit Food and follow the recommended dose.
Feed herbs with liquid fertiliser to encourage lush new growth before it turns cold. Use soluble fertiliser or homemade comfrey or worm tea.
Feed citrus with every change of season. Photo - Robin Powell
Prune ferny asparagus growth that has yellowed then nourish the crowns with compost or aged manure topped with sugar cane mulch or something similar.
Feed the vegetable patch by working in the compost that cooked over summer. Simply turn it into the soil to a spade’s depth.
Save seed from what remains of the summer crop by placing drawstring bags over the spent flower heads. Store the collected seed in labelled paper bags.
Tend to berries: cut down raspberry canes that fruited in summer; prune dead leaves from strawberry plants and cut/replant runners.
You reap what you sow. Photo – Hannah MacCowatt
Cover cabbage family beds with arched PVC pipe and bird netting to keep out the pesky cabbage moth that strikes when the weather cools.
Stock-take shed shelves and give away anything you don’t need. Streamline the collection to free up more space by focussing on multi-purpose products such as Eco-oil, pyrethrum spray and Eco-neem.
Replenish the herb patch by sowing rocket, parsley, mint, chives, thyme and oregano. The even temperatures indoors lead to great results growing coriander and sweet basil inside year-round, so if you have a well-lit kitchen, give it a go.
Get in crops of spinach, radish, lettuce, turnip, onion, cabbage, broccoli and broad beans.
Plant radishes now. Photo – Hannah MacCowatt
Attract good bugs, including pollinators, to the garden with flowers. If they’re thin on the ground through autumn and winter, find a corner for perennial basil, sweet Alice and violas now.
Sow the pea seed you collected last season. Forgot? Make a note to let your best-performing pea go to seed this year.