Autumn in the vegetable garden is such a productive time. Early rains, cooler nights and days, plenty of sun and warm soil makes for happy plants and even happier gardeners. We thought we would share 6 things we are loving about autumn in the Fairharvest garden.
The cooler months are when we make compost. As often as possible -from March or April all the way through until November. It’s the soil’s ‘digestion time’, with rain to provide moisture for microbial activity and thus good breakdown. Layers of wet straw from the chicken house, mulched Banna grass, weeds, manure and spent summer crops have made up our first two piles, with a blanket of dry straw over the top to insulate them. The compost made during our recent ‘Intro to Permaculture’ course has been gently steaming away on brisk mornings and has been turned over twice to aerate and keep it moist. A pile made last week with our wwoofers is now steadily warming and will go through the same process.
Our small crops of Wong bok, Pak choi and Bok choi chinese cabbages have been growing beautifully. These varieties are great quick growing crops to help fill ‘hungry gaps’ between seasons. Autumn is a particularly good time for growing them as we have the warmth for quick growth but shortening days – no bolting to flower like in the spring.
What amazing permaculture plants! They fit in perfectly with our Mediterranean climate. Un-watered over summer, our patch goes into dormancy. In autumn the patch sprouts again and with very little help provides a crop each spring.
Plants send up multiple slips at this time of year and we occasionally divide some with a sharp spade, then replant with leaves trimmed.
In late summer tiny sprouted leek seedlings were closely transplanted from a tray into a ‘nursery bed’, a well watered spot set aside for them to reach pencil thickness through Autumn. We have been planting them out at this perfect size in their final spacings. They are robust enough to be easily handled and have a higher likelihood of reaching full sized leek glory. Can’t wait!
Our garlic is in, up and growing and it feels great! It’s such a milestone in the gardening year to get it in the ground in April and May. Garlic is sensitive to day length and will not start forming bulbs until triggered to do so by lengthening days and higher spring temperatures. In the mean time, while days are shortening, the new plants get to set up a healthy root system and become established.
Planting planting planting! Cabbages, Cauliflower, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Kale, Silverbeet, Beetroot, Carrot, Turnip, Mizuna, Rocket, Leek, Onion, Coriander, Mustards, Florence fennel, Broad beans, Peas and Spring Onion are seasonal planting choices at the moment. Most planting areas in our garden are prepared with compost, seaweed meal and a rock dust blend. Celery is one veggie that is particularly hungry – its’ area in addition to the usual preparation had each planting hole mixed with a couple of cupped handfuls of worm castings AND it’s being inter-planted with a green manure which we will cut back and mulch around the growing celery plants.