I love getting into my vegetable garden this time of the year. After the long hot summer that we have just endured, the crisp mornings and mild days are a welcome relief. Autumn is an active time in the garden with plenty to be done, so let’s find out how to get the best out of your vege patch.
Prepare the beds
Many of the veggies that were planted during the warm growing season have supplied us with an abundance of produce and are now ready to be placed in the compost bay or better still, fed to the chickens. Remember, if you have any diseased plants, it’s best to remove all parts and dispose of thoroughly. We don’t want to spread the problem.
After clearing the beds, it’s time to feed the soil. A healthy soil is full of micro-organisms essential for plant growth and development. I like to cover the whole bed with about 5 centimetres of compost and or aged animal manure and then gently rake it in.
Plant some seeds
Plants such as peas, radishes, carrots, beetroot, rocket and mizuna (mustard) and broad beans can be planted as seed. With the soil temperature still warm, they germinate quite quickly. My pea and radish seeds started growing after six days. If birds are a problem, make a temporary wire structure to keep them off your garden bed.
Don’t forget seedlings
In addition to planting seeds, I like to plant lettuce, silverbeet, bok choy, cabbage, kale and broccoli seedlings. The lettuce will be ready to harvest in about three weeks. Before planting, soak the seedling punnets in a mild solution of seaweed to help reduce transplant shock.
When all your seedlings have been planted, spread a two to four centimetre layer of pea straw around them to help retain moisture and regulate soil temperature. Sugarcane mulch can also be used but doesn’t have as much nitrogen. I wait for my seeds to germinate and start to grow leaves before I mulch around them.
Gardening is great for the mind, spirit and body. It’s time to get your hands dirty. Look out for the next in the vege garden series by Darren Martin of the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney's Community Greening team.