Ah, what sweet relief this cooler weather brings.
And while the world goes mad, now is a wonderful time to do some things in the garden and preparing your patch for winter veggies is fun to do and its also going to yield you some produce.
As the season changes you need to consider sun exposure to the soil, air and soil temperatures, rainfall in the cooler months, soil conditioners (such as manure) and irrigation.
During autumn the sun shines much lower in the sky and gets even lower as winter closes in. Before you get busy take a good look at your beds to make sure they get enough sun. Most autumn and winter crops require at least six hours of sunlight a day.
Your summer growing beds may not be ideal for autumn and winter crops. Trees, buildings, walls and other tall structures can throw more shade in the winter and you may need to consider a different spot.
Some of your summer vegetables may still be producing, so keep them. But any that look scrappy or have finished producing can go to the chooks, worms or the compost.
Some plants such as kale will sometimes improve with the cooler weather, so they are worth keeping.
To prepare your beds, loosen the soil a bit and remove weeds. Work in some compost and manure and maybe some lime. The beds will need a freshen up if they have had summer vegetables and the organic matter will add nutrients to help your new plants grow.
Plan your plantings as you would for summer vegetable and allow for plenty of air circulation. Straight lines are a good rule of thumb and a distance of about 30cm usually work well. I like to plant a little closer than recommended.
Think about the vegetables you like to eat and how well they grow in our climate - no point trying to grow something that is going to die with the first frost.
Mulch, just like you would your other plants, as this helps keep moisture in and keeps the soil a little warmer than if it is fully exposed.
If we don't get regular autumn rain make sure you water. Your garden will not need as much water as summer as the lower temperature and indirect sunlight create less evaporation.
If you are concerned about big frosts as the season cools further you may like to consider covering your crops just to provide a little protection.
You may also have opportunistic possums, birds or other wildlife to contend with and bird netting may be useful to protect your crop. I have had great success with Seasol. Most animals can not stand the smell of fish and tend to go somewhere else. Don't forget to wash your vegetables so you don't suffer the same problem.
My favourite vegetables for autumn planting include broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, carrots, turnips, leeks, spinach, cabbage and lots of herbs such as parsley and chives.
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