Autumn is a great gardening season, and lots can still be grown and harvested at this time of year. It is simple to do, but it does take a bit of understanding of what vegetables need to thrive at that time of year.
It starts with a bit of planning. What will follow the main season crops at the end of their cycle? What would we like to eat out of the garden? And what can we plant from March to May?
If you are planting brassicas, you will need to protect them from the white butterfly caterpillar, which would otherwise chomp through all your brassicas during summer. A good solution is to grow the plants under the protection of a tightly woven mesh. The mesh also provides the plants with a bit of shade as well as a relatively more stable growing environment.
Smart placement will go a long way at this time of year. Many of the year-round veges and greens don’t need 12 to 14 hours of direct sunshine to grow well. In fact, they spend a considerable amount of energy trying to cool down! Therefore, by planting these in areas with minor shading, so that there are only six to eight hours of direct sunlight, you will get better crops.
Plant tightly together, so that they create a living mulch over the soil within three to four weeks (in most cases). Fill your gaps, and cover as much soil as you can with plants or mulch, to avoid bare ground.
In April and May, continue to plant our year-round crops. This gives them time to grow before winter sets in, and guarantees a good supply that will last until spring. Grow them undercover, as the sparrows are very hungry at this time of year and will eat the foliage of the plants if they get the opportunity.
April is when to plant our garlic so that the plants get big and well established before the rust sets in next season.
This is also the time for us to plant strawberries, sow broad beans, peas and cover crops.
Popular winter vegetable seedlings:
- Broad beans
- Brussels sprouts
- Spring onion
- Winter lettuce
With ample rainfall and less pest and disease problems through winter, maintenance of your winter vege patch is greatly reduced. Vegetable (and weed) growth is much slower in cool conditions and many gardeners can keep on top of any maintenance quickly and easily. Applying an autumn mulch of Pea Straw will restrict weed growth and help to keep the root zone of winter plants warm. Some crops may also require a cover of frost cloth overnight to protect young tender tips.