Autumn in the Vege Patch

20 March 2013
Written by Kath Irvine | Images by: Kath Irvine
Print Email

It’s been a long hot summer but the first full days of autumn are here and as Kath Irvine points out that means preparing the garden for winter crops

A change of season is always a thrill - welcome to autumn everybody! Surely it is the busiest season in the edible gardener’s year. How are your winter preparations coming along? (At the risk of putting you under extra pressure) I do hope you are cracking on with your bed preparations and seed sowing et al – there really is no time to waste if you want to be eating fresh out of your garden this winter. 

It can be tricky getting a new season's crop in the ground while in the midst of the last season's abundance. Of course the more seasons you have under your belt the better you get at it! Planning really is the key.

Sow seed or transplant seedlings directly beneath summer crops (corn or beans or tomatoes) - pruning off the lower leaves and spent branches will allow light and water in. When the nurse crops are done don't pull them out – cut them off at the roots. 

Meantime here are some ideas...

* Tomatoes can be pulled out to give you more room and hung upside down in an airy spot to finish ripening. 

* Cucumber vines can be picked up and draped over a structure to free up some room. 

* New seedlings can be transplanted among pumpkin vines. Prune foliage back for light and place a can with its bottom cut out over the new seedling to stop it getting squashed by the squash! 

* You can keep pricking brassicas on into bigger trays (15cm deep) until they are quite big – about six leaves. This gives your current crops time to finish up. A bigger seedling will cope better with slugs. 

* You can always cultivate a bit of lawn and make another bed! 

In the Vege Patch 

Extremes of weather really test our food-growing systems. As you know, I’m always looking at how I can make my garden more robust, and therefore able to cope in extreme seasons such as this dry summer. Two things are key – preparation and variety. 

I haven’t been watering my squash or corn, and the corn is not its usual juicy self. The earlier lot got some rain and shows it in its bigger cobs. The later lot has had very little, ergo smaller cobs and fewer of them. 

The squash, however, are doing fine – plenty of fruit set and good healthy fruits. They were direct sown into piles of homemade compost and rotten manure and I trenched a lot of food scraps around the outside. They were watered until established then left to their own devices. The ground has been covered with one growing thing or another the whole season. If I poke my finger into the surrounding soil it’s still barely moist – amazing! I will be saving the squash seed (Walthams butternut, kamokamo, ironbark and green chestnut) as it’s stood up to the extreme weather test. Perhaps a new variety of corn is on the horizon though. 

Seed to sow: winter salads, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, broadbeans, peas, carrots, parsnip, beetroot, radish, coriander, rocket, florence fennel, lots of companion flowers, winter greencrops 

Planting out: brassicas, saladings, silverbeet, celery, parsley 

Other Tasks: 

  • Take great care with your tomatoes as autumn dews set in – I am weekly spraying with dilute raw milk and plucking off older leaves as they turn yellow 
  • Prepare beds for winter crops 
  • Clean out your chook house – give it a good scrub and airing. Recycle all the bedding into your compost piles. Shake some diatomaceous earth (available from Commonsense Organics) around before you put your fresh bedding down, dust the chooks with it and can even add some to their sawdust yard/ dust bath. 
  • If you don't have a worm farm, you’ll need to make liquid feed for winter supply 
  • Keep on top of your cabbage whites and lopper caterpillars with regular Dipel sprays (also for sale at Commonsense), or by netting them out. Dipel really is your best friend at this time of year! 
  • Save seed off all your best plants 
  • Bottle, freeze, pickle, dry the excess

 

It’s been a long hot summer but the first full days of autumn are here and as Kath Irvine points out that means preparing the garden for winter crops

A change of season is always a thrill - welcome to autumn everybody! Surely it is the busiest season in the edible gardener’s year. How are your winter preparations coming along? (At the risk of putting you under extra pressure) I do hope you are cracking on with your bed preparations and seed sowing et al – there really is no time to waste if you want to be eating fresh out of your garden this winter. 

It can be tricky getting a new season's crop in the ground while in the midst of the last season's abundance. Of course the more seasons you have under your belt the better you get at it! Planning really is the key.

Sow seed or transplant seedlings directly beneath summer crops (corn or beans or tomatoes) - pruning off the lower leaves and spent branches will allow light and water in. When the nurse crops are done don't pull them out – cut them off at the roots. 

Meantime here are some ideas...

* Tomatoes can be pulled out to give you more room and hung upside down in an airy spot to finish ripening. 

* Cucumber vines can be picked up and draped over a structure to free up some room. 

* New seedlings can be transplanted among pumpkin vines. Prune foliage back for light and place a can with its bottom cut out over the new seedling to stop it getting squashed by the squash! 

* You can keep pricking brassicas on into bigger trays (15cm deep) until they are quite big – about six leaves. This gives your current crops time to finish up. A bigger seedling will cope better with slugs. 

* You can always cultivate a bit of lawn and make another bed! 

In the Vege Patch 

Extremes of weather really test our food-growing systems. As you know, I’m always looking at how I can make my garden more robust, and therefore able to cope in extreme seasons such as this dry summer. Two things are key – preparation and variety. 

I haven’t been watering my squash or corn, and the corn is not its usual juicy self. The earlier lot got some rain and shows it in its bigger cobs. The later lot has had very little, ergo smaller cobs and fewer of them. 

The squash, however, are doing fine – plenty of fruit set and good healthy fruits. They were direct sown into piles of homemade compost and rotten manure and I trenched a lot of food scraps around the outside. They were watered until established then left to their own devices. The ground has been covered with one growing thing or another the whole season. If I poke my finger into the surrounding soil it’s still barely moist – amazing! I will be saving the squash seed (Walthams butternut, kamokamo, ironbark and green chestnut) as it’s stood up to the extreme weather test. Perhaps a new variety of corn is on the horizon though. 

Seed to sow: winter salads, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, broadbeans, peas, carrots, parsnip, beetroot, radish, coriander, rocket, florence fennel, lots of companion flowers, winter greencrops 

Planting out: brassicas, saladings, silverbeet, celery, parsley 

Other Tasks: 

  • Take great care with your tomatoes as autumn dews set in – I am weekly spraying with dilute raw milk and plucking off older leaves as they turn yellow 
  • Prepare beds for winter crops 
  • Clean out your chook house – give it a good scrub and airing. Recycle all the bedding into your compost piles. Shake some diatomaceous earth (available from Commonsense Organics) around before you put your fresh bedding down, dust the chooks with it and can even add some to their sawdust yard/ dust bath. 
  • If you don't have a worm farm, you’ll need to make liquid feed for winter supply 
  • Keep on top of your cabbage whites and lopper caterpillars with regular Dipel sprays (also for sale at Commonsense), or by netting them out. Dipel really is your best friend at this time of year! 
  • Save seed off all your best plants 
  • Bottle, freeze, pickle, dry the excess

 

Fresh Fruit from your Backyard Workshop, Saturday 23rd March

 

Fresh Fruit from your Backyard

Date: Saturday 23rd March 
Time: 10am - 1pm 
Price: $65.00

This workshop comes just at the right time to be ordering your deciduous fruit trees for planting this winter. You'll learn:

  • How to choose the best sites for your pipfruits, stonefruits, subtropicals and citrus and how to create the perfect environments for them to flourish in
  • About varieties and rootstocks that work best in our bio region
  • About orchard herbs (including comfrey), herbal leys and using animals for pest/ weed management and composting
  • How to plant and prune your new trees

  Email: '); document.write(addy94428); document.write('<\/a>'); //-->\n This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. " style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; color: #8bb02e; opacity: 0.8; font-family: Tahoma, Verdana, Geneva; line-height: 17px; background-color: #f6f6f6;"> This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Add comment


Security code
Refresh

  • July in the Vegie Patch
    20 July, 2014
    Kath tackles the 'to prune or not to prune' question head on; advises on making good use of your July weeds and sets some mid-winter inspired garden m...
  • June in the Vegie Patch
    19 June, 2014
    Never one to let the icy frost settle on her garden tools, Kath Irvine sets a list of June jobs to give your vegie patch a wee boost during this chill...
  • May in the Vegie Patch
    20 May, 2014
    Enjoying the rewards of her toil during the summer months, Kath, forever with an eye on the seasons, discusses how to shelter your land from the winte...
  • April in the Vegie Patch
    20 April, 2014
    Are you scratching your head wondering what to plant in your Autumn vegie garden?  Well you're in luck as Kath lists 10 essential plants for a happy g...
  • March in the Vegie Garden
    20 March, 2014
    As the cooler temps slow down the growing rate of the vege garden, Kath reminds us what to do and plant in March to ensure yours is a plentiful winter...
  • November in the Vegie Patch
    20 November, 2013
    With only a few short weeks to go before summer is upon us, Kath Irvine guides us through the final preparations to ensure our summer crops are plenti...
  • October in the Vegie Patch
    19 October, 2013
    With the warm weather almost here,  Kath reminds us that October is get-ready-for-summer-abundance month, providing us with pointers to ensure a bount...
  • September in the Vegie Patch
    19 September, 2013
    This month in Kath Irvine's fabulous garden she welcomes spring, encouraging us to roll our gardens beds over and plant and sow like our lives depend ...
  • August in the vegie patch
    20 August, 2013
    Anticipating a spring in her step, Kath Irvine takes time to prepare, plan and look forward to the warmer months and all that means for the fresh-food...
  • Sleep in, light a fire, make a pudding!
    20 June, 2013
    Embracing winter, Kath Irvine shares some timely advice on creating good flow within the garden, plus preparing and planting your onion and garlic bed...
  • Prepare your soil
    15 April, 2013
    Kath Irvine likens the gardening journey so far to that of an elite sporting event where crossing the finish line is the reward for you & your garden ...
  • Autumn in the Vege Patch
    20 March, 2013
    It’s been a long hot summer but the first full days of autumn are here and as Kath Irvine points out that means preparing the garden for winter crops

    ...
  • Creating robust systems
    20 February, 2013
    Kath Irvine introduces 'robust gardening' as a smarter way of doing things - the more robust our gardens the better our crops, plants and animals cope
    ...
  • Green crops are fab
    20 January, 2013
    Our gardening guru Kath Irvine celebrates Jan and the New Year by preparing for the colder months ahead and organising her autumn and winter food supp...
  • The Colours of Summer
    20 December, 2012

    Welcome to the start of summer. Of course whether it actually is or not will remain to be seen, but it’s looking likely. This spring has been very rel...

MyMag this month...

...your magazine for inspiring stories, beautiful spaces, networking, sharing & celebrating community...

Email:
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Location:
Wellington,
New Zealand


 

MyMag is your Mag! Subscribe today - it's FREE.  
Subscribe and receive our monthly newsletter keeping you up to date with the latest edition.