Gardening in Autumn
In the Veggie Garden
Vegetables to be harvested in March include beans, beetroot, cabbage, carrots, celery, corn, cucumbers, eggplants, jerusalem artichokes, lettuce, melons, onions, potatoes, pumpkins, radish, silverbeet, tomatoes and yams.
Prepare areas for your winter vegetable garden by thorough digging, adding fresh Daltons Compost and ensuring there is adequate drainage. Winter veggies you can plant up now (either seed or young seedlings) include; beetroot, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, lettuce, onions, radish, silverbeet, spinach, swedes and turnip.
Always try and stagger your plantings to encourage continuous harvesting throughout the season, rather than having all the vegetables mature at the same time. Use our planting guide to help.
Autumn temperatures can drop suddenly (especially in the later months) and wipe out sensitive young plants. A forecast of 4 degrees or lower means you should protect against a frost. Use a garden cloche or throw a frost cloth (even old net curtains) over the garden. You can also use flower pots, or jars and put them upside down over individual plants. Just remember to remove coverings in the morning.
Summer flowering annuals are nearing the end of their flowering season. Time to remove old plants and prepare the areas for your winter displays. Winter flowering annuals to plant now include; alyssum, calendulas, cineraria, cornflower, lobelia, nemesia, pansy, primulas, snapdragons, stock and wallflowers. Winter flowering annuals are an excellent means of brightening up dull parts of the garden, either planted in containers or especially in rose gardens where planted roses appear very bare. For example, a mass planting of Primula malacoides looks amazing in the winter garden.
If you haven’t started your bulb planting yet, then it’s time to get it underway. In some colder parts of New Zealand, we are nearing the end of bulb planting season. As with all plants, thorough preparation of the soil prior to planting the bulbs will produce a better display in spring. Add Daltons Premium Bulb Mix to existing soil or use in pots.
Bulbs to plant in March include anemone, daffodil, hyacinth, ixia, lachenalia, freesia, ranunculus, sparaxis, tritonia, tulip and watsonias.
The last of the peaches, golden queen mature in March. Numerous apple and pear varieties are now ripening and eating grapes are now at their sweetest. Cover with netting if birds are a problem. In warmer parts of New Zealand passionfruit will be ripening. Harvest as they ripen on the vine or collect fallen fruit.
Peach and nectarine trees that have already cropped can now be pruned removing old wood and retaining enough new seasons growth for next season's fruit. It’s always a good idea to maintain tree height at two to three metres to allow for easier picking and for netting if birds become a problem next season.
When autumn rains arrive in your region, the renovation of existing lawns or the laying of new lawns can begin. When preparing your site for a new lawn, it’s advisable to have a slight slope to allow water to run off, thereby avoiding puddling. A handy tip is to sow a mixture of grass seed as this provides a better all-year-round lawn.
With existing lawns, Daltons Premium Lawn Fertiliser can be applied and watered in well. When irrigating your lawn, carry out this in the cooler part of the day to maximise water usage.
Container gardens are a very simple and effective approach to adding colour and interest to your property throughout the year. Containers can be replanted at regular intervals with flowering annuals. In larger containers, bulbs can be planted to emerge through flowering annuals in spring for maximum impact.
Green Manure and Cover Crops
If you are not planting out in your garden over winter, don’t leave the beds empty. Sow a “green manure or cover crop” to add nutrients into the soil and protect beds. Kings Seeds have a great range you can try. Sow common “Green Crops” such as lupin and mustard directly; once grown dig them back into the soil and leave to break down for 6-8 weeks before planting. Alternatively, “blanket cover” beds by applying a thick layer of mulch, such as Daltons Mulch and Grow or other forms of mulch like manure, autumn leaves, or wood chip.