Autumn Gardening Tips
Time to get your winter veggie garden jobs underway, along with tasks for preparing your strawberry patch, lawn care and rose and bulb tasks. If you haven’t started yet, get into the garden this weekend!
Existing vegetable gardens
The last of the summer vegetables are now harvested so remove finished crops. Collect seeds such as tomatoes, beans, sunflowers etc.
Dig over your existing soil to approximately one and a half spades deep. Add Daltons Compost to improve soil texture and structure and mix it in well.
Winter vegetables to be planted as young seedlings or sown as seed directly into the garden include; beetroot, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, lettuce, onions, peas, bok choy, radish, silverbeet, spinach, (turnip, swede in colder climates), and kale. If you are not able to access a garden centre to buy seedlings, consider buying seeds online from somewhere like kingsseeds.co.nz It takes longer but is better than missing out.
Rotate areas where you have grown specific crops - different plants give and take different nutrients from the soil so rotating where crops are planted, can help you manage the soil nutrient balance.
Starting a new vegetable garden
The site of your garden is essential to its success – whether in the ground or a raised bed. It will need full sun (or as much as your backyard can provide) during the growing season, shelter from the cold, strong southerlies and it should be positioned in a well-drained part of the garden. Also, think about how close you are to a water source for easy irrigation.
The quickest way to get a vegetable garden up and running is straight into the ground. This works well if you have a relatively flat area that is north facing, open and sunny. If you have access to materials, and for ease of access when planting, caring and harvesting, a raised vegetable garden is ideal. Raise the soil level using treated timber or bricks etc to about 300mm high and fill with (if possible) Daltons Garden Time Compost and existing soil (mix in well). Then plant out with vegetables as listed above or read more on creating a winter vegetable garden and planting guides on what winter veggies to plant and when.
Growing in containers
If you have limited space you can successfully grow winter vegetables in pots or containers; try silverbeet, spinach, spring onions, brussel sprouts, broccoli, peas, bok choy and winter lettuce etc. Container size is important - people tend to select smaller pots but be sure the container is big enough. Use a good quality potting or container mix as they have been specially developed for this type of growing environment. Position pots or containers in a warm sunny, north facing position away from strong winds.
Strawberry beds: April is a great month to prepare your summer strawberry beds. Mound up rows of soil after adding compost in generous amounts. Align your rows North/South to ensure maximum sun coverage during summer for ripening delicious, juicy red strawberries.
Bulbs: This is the very last month for planting bulbs (preferably early April). Plant into well-drained soil that has been enriched with fresh compost and remember to label where the bulbs are!
Lawns: April is probably the safest month for sowing a new lawn or undertaking master renovation of an existing lawn. The key to success as with most matters in the garden lies in the preparation. Where new soil is to be imported onto the property, carefully check its source to ensure you are not importing new weeds, as is often the case. Carefully level soil prior to sowing seed allowing for a small slope that will improve long-term drainage. Remember you may need to over sow some areas at a later date, so hold back 10% of your grass food. Water thoroughly until germination is completed and then slowly rake your irrigation (rainfall should be regular by that time). Apply lawn fertiliser to existing lawns for the last time before winter.
Roses: For many roses, April is the last month of flowering. While still a little early for pruning, keep deadheading, collect dead leaves from around the rose bushes and add compost to existing rose beds.