Vegetables to plant in autumn
Autumn planting for winter and spring harvest.
Brassicas are excellent winter crops. Cauliflower prefers temperatures between 15 and 20℃. When temperatures are too high, the curds are loose and plants may bolt, so in warmer climates, the ideal planting season is late summer and autumn. This gives young seedlings the warm conditions they need to get started in life, with cooler weather as the cauliflowers mature. Recently, however, new heat tolerant cauliflowers have been introduced which will make planting time less critical. Most varieties are ready for picking about 4 months after planting. In a warm climate, planting a batch of seedlings each month in March, April and May should keep you in cauliflowers from June through till spring.
CABBAGE, BROCCOLI AND KALE
These brassica crops are easier to grow than their cauliflower cousins, but they enjoy the same conditions. By planting a variety to suit the season you can have cabbages in your garden all year round. Sprouting broccoli will keep producing succulent side shoots well after the main head has been picked.
Spinach grows best with cool, moist roots, good drainage and plenty of compost and fertiliser. The tastiest, most tender spinach is that which has been allowed to grow steadily without set back. Winter grown spinach is especially sweet.
It is easy to grow silver beet for picking all year round in mild climates, and for at least six months in colder climates. For a year round supply, plant in autumn and again in spring. Silver beet will bolt to seed in hot dry conditions. It thrives with ample moisture and fertilisers high in nitrogen, such as blood and bone.
In a warm climate, beetroot can be sown directly into the soil anytime from August right through to March, and makes an ideal vege for the winter garden. In cold climates beetroot it is sown in spring for autumn harvest.
Celery hates temperature extremes. In warm climates, mid-autumn to winter planting avoids the heat of summer. In cold climates it is best planted in late summer or spring. It will grow in part shade and thrives in moist but well drained soils with lots of compost and manure. Sheep pellets or well-rotted chicken manure are ideal. Celery is a fantastic vegetable to have on hand for soups and casseroles and dark green celery is great for cooking. If you want to grow it to eat raw, the stems are sweeter when ‘blanched’. This involves blocking the light, easily done by wrapping the stems with newspaper 2-3 weeks prior to harvesting.
LEEKS AND SPRING ONIONS
Plant seedlings or sow seed directly into the soil, thinning to about 15cm spaces. Keep the soil moist, especially in the early stages of growth. If you want white stemmed leeks, mound the soil up around the plants as they grow. Spring onions are a quick and versatile crop. They can be roasted whole and eaten as sweet ‘baby leeks’.
Eaten fresh and young or with their outer skins removed after cooking, broad beans are a gourmet's delight. The leafy top shoots are nice in stir-fries and the beans are ready for picking three to five months after sowing. In windy areas plants are best supported with stakes and string. Be in to win Yates new ‘Hughey’ broad bean seeds. Entry details on page 30.
Peas are grown from seed sown directly into the soil. Sowing is timed to provide the cool soil for germination while avoiding frosty or hot dry weather during flowering time. This translates to autumn sowing for warmer climates, and spring sowing for colder climates. Always buy fresh seed to avoid disappointment. A crumbly well-drained soil bed is important.
For a continuous supply sow carrots every 3-4 weeks. In cold climates, sow your last batch of seed 2-3 months before likely frost. Whether you dig your own, or buy bags of growing mix, good soil is key. It should drain well and be of a loose, even texture. Remove clods and stones as these lead to misshapen carrots.
Sow seed onto damp soil then water gently. Keep the seed beed free of weeds and water as necessary to keep it just moist. Use a very soft spray hose attachment or watering can to avoid washing the seeds away. Carrot seedlings germinate within two to three weeks. Once the seedlings are 3-5cm tall, sacrifice a few seedlings to make room for others to grow. Leave about 2-3cm between each seedling. As the plants grow, thin them some more.
FEED ALL VEGE PLANTS
to get the best autumn growth. Be in to win Phostrogen fertiliser. Entry details on page 30.
Use insect mesh to prevent pests laying eggs on brassicas. TIP