Growers Guide - Autumn & Winter
The heat is finally starting to get below 30 degrees now in Ipswich (the chickens and Tom are very grateful) which means we can start to plan & plant our seeds for the Autumn/Winter harvest. The Autumn & Winter months are great growing months around where we live because in the Summer it is so darn hot that it is survival of the fittest out there and unfortunately there is not a lot of survival.
As we have had a delayed growing period over Summer, a lot of our Summer fruit and veggies will be ready to harvest in the next couple of weeks. Such as our watermelons, rockmelons, zucchinis, tomatoes, capsicums, cucumbers, rocket, spinach, kale, bok choy & pak choy
As the Summer crop was so delayed this year we have had to double the size of our vegetable garden in order to accomodate for all the cruciferous & root vegetable family that are about to be planted! Plus Tom also eats more than we can currently grow so an extension was in order...
With the new backyard renos our little black compost bin was relocated as well to its new home as we like to move it around to wherever the soil requires the most nutrients. Since we are about to fill the soil with a large number and variety of seedlings it is vital they have a lot of nutrients available for them to grow and develop into strong healthy plants so for now here it will stay!
However, we will delve into composting and creating nutrient rich soil in our upcoming blog posts.
Now of course you can't start planning your garden until you get your hands on some seeds. Here you have a couple of options when planting out your garden:
You can purchase all organic seeds from your local health food store or Wrays Organics I usually go to Wrays first to purchase whatever organic packets of seeds they have available and then source the rest else where.
You can go to Sunday markets or crop swap destinations to trade seeds with other suburban farmers like yourselves, this is a great money saver and gives you a chance to get your hands on a large variety of different vegetables. You can also purchase seedlings at these markets, which is a great idea if you are tight for room and don't have a lot of space to sprout your seedlings before moving them to your veg patch!
Or if you are a real organised and avid gardener you let your plants go back to seed. This means after you have planted your crops for the season once they are finishing up you allow the crops to go back to seed and dry them out in order to save them and re plant them for the season the following year.
I will elaborate on this in an upcoming blog as I really love the idea of letting your plants go to seed and am currently mastering it as we speak. We have successfully planted our pumpkins, coriander, capsicums and tomatoes after letting them go to seed.
Now you have managed to get your hands on all the seeds and seedlings you wish to plant for the season it is now time to plan your garden layout. I believe the easiest way to organise what you are going to plant for the season is to group together your seeds into families of how they grow (vines, plants, underground, above ground), what they require (sun, rain, shade) and how long they take to seed and produce fruit and veg.
The Cruciferous Family
Cabbages (red, green, sugar, you name it!)
Best to grow in rows in soil and keep them covered with their outer leaves, you can snap off old leaves to cover the tops of the cruciferous to stop them from discolouring.
The Root Veg Family
Carrots (use a seed tape, will show what I am talking about and technique in another blog post)
Spuds - sweet potatoes, ruby
Radishes - we are growing daikon radishes so that I can use them to make my kimchi (recipe to come!)
Jerusalem Artichokes - currently trying to get my hands on some seedlings (not so easy!!)
Good idea to seed tape the beetroots and carrots so they don't clump together under the soil and fight one another for nutrients. Root veg are are like mole rats... they need to be buried into the ground with lots of room to move and grow. You can mound the soil on top of the veggies if they start to appear out of the soil before they are ready to harvest.
The Leafy Greens
Kale - we grown curly kale as it is best for smoothies + salads I believe but there is also Tuscan kale is what is now known as the 'trendy' kale also easy to grow this time of year!
Rhubarb (close enough...)
Celery (needs more water than a camel can store)
Need to be well hydrated and require more protection due to being so vulnerable with weather and bugs! We use an organic home made soap spray and a veggie planter box for ours.
The Plant/Vine Family
Tomatoes (fruit or veggie... it's the great debate)
You want to stabilise your vine plants with trellises, timber, wire or whatever you can get your hands on around the yard, in order to support the plants whilst growing. You can also bag up the veggies with brown paper bags and a cable tie as they tend to grow in bundles in order to protect them.
Brush your teeth family
Leeks (allium family)
Onion (allium family)
Plant these strong flavoured veggies throughout your garden in order to deter bugs and insects, great natural insecticide!
I like to pot my herbs up instead of planting them in the garden bed as this controls their growth. It also means they are easier to trim and tidy as well as move since the herbs have a longer life than your other veggies.
Tell me about it... there is a hell of a lot of veggies & herbs to plant this time of year and because Tom and I are limited with our space and don't have as much fruit in our diet as we do veg we don't tend to plant as much of it. Therefore if we haven't trialled it ourselves I don't like to give advice it wouldn't be fair really.
The general rule of thumb is to plant your seeds twice the depth of their size into the soil, so not very deep at all, barely just below the surface. It is a good idea to plant your seedlings in a planter box where they are a little more protected. Once they are developed into strong seedlings transfer them into your veggie patch. This gives them a better chance of survival and being able to withstand nature, weather and chickens.
I hope this post helps you to endeavour on your Autumn & Winter crop planting. Since Tom and I will be growing just about everything from the above list please don't hesitate to contact us (yes Tom will respond to emails) about what is and isn't going on in your garden and we will give our mostly helpful advice!
Tom & Sofie