The cooler, wetter weather in autumn still provides plenty of opportunities for keen gardeners.
Providing Jack Frost does not bestow his unwelcome presence on your cherished vege patch (in which case it’s best to leave the garden fallow until spring), April provides plenty of opportunities for keen gardeners.
Cooling air and soil temperatures cause growth to slow and so established seedlings are best planted at this time of year. Remember to gradually introduce seedlings to the outdoors prior to planting (ie. harden off seedlings).
Cauliflower, cabbage (red and savoy are the hardiest), broccoli and Brussels sprouts seedlings planted now will be ready for harvest in the late winter/early spring and will avoid predation by the cabbage white caterpillar.
Peas and broad beans can be sown direct in the garden, the pods ready for picking in about three and five months respectively. April sowings of leeks, carrots, winter lettuce, parsnips, swede, turnip, spinach, beetroot and kale will provide a good harvest during the depths of winter.
Any unused section of the vege garden can be sown in either a green manure or carbon crop (available from Kings Seeds). Green manures include lupins, clover, lucerne and mustard whereas carbon crops are more typically cereals such as wheat, oats and barley. The procedure is to sow the seed and then chop the plants up with a spade and dig them back into the soil before they flower as a way to improve soil structure and nutrient content and to stymie any masochistic attempt to make your own wheat or oat flour.
Slugs and snails start to multiply as the gardens become wetter and small plants will appreciate a fortnightly application of foliar feed — a more effective way of supplying nutrients to plants at this time of year.
Late summer/early autumn provides an abundance of vegetables from eggplant to courgettes and everything in between. Fruits such as tomatoes, chillies and capsicums will need to be picked now as they won’t ripen as temperatures and sunlight starts receding.
Root vegetables such as carrots, fennel, late potatoes, kumara, turnip and celeriac need to be lifted and stored before the soil becomes sodden.
Silver beet, lettuce and spinach will continue to grow and provide if you leave around one-third of the plant unpicked.
Garden to table
A great way to use in-season capsicums is to add them to a bean mix to make substantial nachos.