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Autumn in the edible garden

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Laura Blishen

Autumn is a fantastic time to get out and breathe new life into the veggie patch as the last of the summer crops can be removed to make way for winter vegies. Rain and cooler temperatures make planting seedlings easier; it is a good idea however to get the new season’s crops in the ground before winter sets in and the soil temperature drops.
Remember the key to healthy plants is healthy soil so before planting be sure to add organic matter to your patch such as compost, manure or worm castings. This will feed the new season’s crops as well as improving the structure of the soil.

Good crops to plant now are potatoes, garlic, peas, broad beans, onions, leeks, carrots, beets, radish and any of the Brassica family such as cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower.
Broad beans and peas are quick and easy to grow directly from seed in the ground. Carrots should always be sown directly into the ground where they are to grow. Avoid buying punnets or pots of carrot seedlings as they hate being transplanted and you will end up with plants that are all tops and no root and if you’re lucky, a stunted twisted carrot! Brassicas and lettuce are quite susceptible to pest attack so can be more successful to start in trays or buy some established seedlings from your local nursery and get a head start.

Brassicas are hungry plants that prefer slightly alkaline soil. Applying dolomite lime to the patch will ensure there’s enough calcium and magnesium available for the plants.
Autumn is also a good time to plant fruit trees especially evergreens such as citrus and mangos while the soil is still warm enough to stimulate root growth and give the plant a head start coming into winter. Stone fruit and pome fruit can be planted throughout autumn and the cooler winter months when they will be heading into dormancy.
If you would like more tips on growing veggies or fruit trees pop into Thrive Sustainability – The Edible Gardens Nursery.