Gardening diary: Mid-autumn/fall
Now’s the time to plant seeds and cultivate seedlings for continuous vege and fruit crops.
For gardens prone to light frosts, plant broad beans and spinach seeds as they are hardy enough to survive. Make a trench in the garden, fill with seed-raising mix and moisten thoroughly then place seeds at a depth of three times the diameter of the seed.
In coastal and central areas where soil is not waterlogged or cold, additional seedlings can now be planted out for an early spring harvest. Cos lettuce, garden peas, leeks and parsnips will grow well in soil with well-rotted manure or compost lightly forked in.
Carrot seedlings will grow slowly but surely in sandier soil without manure and only a small amount of compost.
Cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower seedlings planted now will survive the winter in frost-free areas to be picked in spring before they bolt and flower.
To successfully transplant seedlings follow these steps
- For single seedlings in pots or cells, soak the pot until soil is moist, invert the pot so the seedling hangs between your fingers and gently squeeze the sides of the pot to loosen and remove it.
- Plant the plug of soil and seedling in a similar-sized hole in the garden and water to settle the soil around the roots.
- Where multiple seedlings are grown in a single pot or cell (eg. onions), follow steps 1 and 2, but put the plug of soil and seedlings in a bowl of warm water then gently wash and tease out individual seedlings.
- Plant these seedlings in holes in the garden filled with moist seed-raising mix. Make a hole in the mix with a stick so the seedling can be lowered in then water gently.
- Keep the medium in which the seedling has been planted moist.
To protect young seedlings from birds, slugs and hard frosts place a clear, two-litre plastic drink bottle with the bottom cut out, over each seedling. Remove when it constricts the plant.
The season of mellow fruitfulness yields squash, leeks, capsicum, broccoli, spinach, cabbage, runner beans, chillies, grapes, apples, pears and silver beet.