Clear starry nights, cool, dewy mornings and that special golden hue in the evening sky are all signs that Autumn is moving in. The cooler mornings and nights slowly begin to cool the soil, which in turn slows soil life, cycling out to slow plant growth from now on in.
Make the most of the warmer days to get as many autumn/ winter crops as you can, planted. Though you can still plant during the colder months, its the stuff you plant now that will carry on from your summer crops. Keep the flow of good food coming into your kitchen – start planting winter stuff today.
Finding space to sow and plant winter crops takes lateral thinking when all the beds are full of summer stuff. With a bit of creativity, you’ll be amazed at what you can fit in. Plant new seedlings amongst the nearly finished, or at the very least get them in right after harvest. Keep things flowing.
- Make pockets amongst lupin greencrops for hungry brassicas. Dollop a pile of of compost in the space and plant into it. Seedlings perform so well in this team environment, protected from the elements. As the new crop grows, make way for it by breaking off excess greencrop and laying it down as mulch around the young seedlings.
- Use the space underneath or around finishing crops like tomatoes, cucumbers, courgettes, flowers and squash. Prune them back as much as you can get away with to let enough light in, and sow or plant in the space.
- Plant leafy greens and herbs beneath fruit trees and along the edges of flower beds.
It’s a homecoming for seedlings to grow up under the shelter of older plants and trees – it’s what they know.
Carrots, parsnips and radish.
Coriander and rocket. Don’t buy a 6 pack and transplant them – they’ll shoot off to seed on the next hot day. Spend $4 on a pack of seed with 50 potential plants in it and sprinkle a few seed each month directly in the garden. Thereafter let them self-seed of their own accord and never buy seed again.
Sow miners lettuce and cornsalad along the edges for easy picking, in front of veggies, flowers, shrubs or fruit trees. They grow well in pots too. Sow quite thickly – create a decent patch. They’re such sweet little things they’re easily out competed. If you let them flower and go to seed they’ll come up every Autumn/ Spring year after year = solid gold!
Sow Mizuna with calendula or amongst saladings.
Companion flowers like calendula, cosmos, cornflower, bishops flower, honesty and poppy.
Winter greencrops like oats, wheat, lupin and mustard should all be going in this month. Mustard is a biofumigant, make best use of it after diseased crops and as a cleanse for the greenhouse. Its useful to sown beneath fruit trees for some high nectar flowers in winter. Oats and wheat are magic for heavy soils – those big root systems open soil up, and at the other end of their life they make the best mulch. They are prone to rust though, so if its is an issue at your place, stick to lupin. I really like kings seeds Autumn manure mix greencrop.
Spring onions, red or brown onions.
Another lot of broccoli, cauli, cabbage for planting out next month.
Peas in toliet rolls or plug trays.
Companions flowers like snapdragon, chamomile, stock and heartsease.
Direct or Tray Sow
Beetroot in small plug trays or along the picking edge.
Broadbeans, saladings, endive, kale or spinach
Plant another lot of broccoli, cabbage and cauli. Go for a mixture to create a diversity in the kitchen.
Parsley and leafy greens like landcress, kale, chard and silverbeet are the backbone of my winter kitchen and all need to be planted this month. It’s too late (down this end of the island) to sow them now and get a winter crop. If you don’t have the seedlings raised, go buy them. Plants heaps! Leave a selection to self seed over summer. Yet more plants you can strike off the shopping list.
Plant celery into a lovely pile of muck. I grow my winter celery in the greenhouse to avoid rust.
Plant early garlic. If there is one thing we can do to beat rust, it’s get in early. Here’s some excellent advice from Sethas seeds about managing rust.
Leeks, spring onions, red or brown onions.
Saladings will need to be planted undercover (greenhouse/ cloche/ porch) when soil temps dip to 12°C and night temps to 10°C.