Gardening diary: Late autumn/fall
Now that the cold weather is here to stay, any sense of urgency in garden upkeep can be taken down a notch.
Last month’s vege growing suggestions pretty much draw the planting calendar to a close until spring. Cooler soil and air temperatures combined with wet weather will slow plant growth from now until October. Unless you live north of Auckland it’s best to desist from planting anything but the hardiest seedlings such as Savoy or red cabbage, winter lettuce, cauliflower or spinach.
Your diligence in planting throughout the summer will now be paying dividends, however, as ‘the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’ provides a smorgasbord of vegetables for harvest.
Harvest and remove these plants now
Collect all remaining late-ripening soft vegetables such as fennel, chillies, capsicums, celery, cucumber, tomatoes, eggplant, squash, pumpkin and courgette. Compost disease-free plants, burn others.
Pull and pick any summer plantings of red and green cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and leeks.
Harvest and store these veges as soon as soils become wet
Root crops planted in summer will now be ready to pick: beetroot, parsnips, carrots, celeriac, Jerusalem artichokes, kumara, New Zealand yams, radishes, swedes and turnips can all store in the soil providing it stays dry — otherwise, get them indoors sharpish before they rot.
Selectively part-harvest these
Leafy crops can continue to be part-harvested. Pick a few leaves at a time of silver beet, spinach, winter lettuce or celery throughout winter but harvest the lot before spring when the plant will bolt to flower.
Enjoy the continual cropping of other plants
Herbs such as chives, tarragon, marjoram, thyme, oregano, mint, rosemary, sage, dill, parsley will survive frost-free winters if picked sparingly.
And those with fruit gardens will be enjoying figs, grapes, late apples and all citrus fruit.
And if you are just starting out as a food gardener…
Now is a good time to fork in plenty of manure and compost into your vege plot, leaving it to decompose ready for the spring planting blitz. Those with heavy clay- based soil should also fork in a spadeful of lime per square metre as this helps break up the soil.
Garden to table
Tasty beetroot and pasta salad