Saturday, 22 March 2014

Autumn Gardening Checklist: what jobs to do in the garden this month

With the hottest summer days behind us, March is a great time to get back out in the garden and get ready for the cold winter days ahead. With the help of some gardening expert friends, we’ve put together an autumn gardening “To Do” list to keep you on track:


1. Plan, plan, plan
 
Maria Ciavarella from My Green Garden advises that “On a day when you have a little more time, take out your stored seeds or catalogues and decide what you want to grow again. Some seeds should be sown directly in-ground, whereas others can be sown in punnets or your own biodegradable newspaper pots (egg cartons also work well too!), to get ready to put in your (to be) freshly nourished and rejuvenated soil. Not only will you save money from buying over-priced and pot bound seedlings, you have the choice of a myriad of seeds not usually sold as seedlings. And then there are the pantry staples, like garlic and shallots that are always better home grown.” (source: www.myhomeharvest.com.au)

Maria recommends carrying out these simple tasks now before the soil cools down in April.

http://www.mygreengarden.com.au
 
 
 
2. Compost and prepare your soil

When the last of your summer crop has withered away, show your soil some love by enriching it with some compost and/or manure to replenish the nutrients that have been stripped from it over summer. That way, your soil will be ready to go when you’re ready to sow your seeds directly into the ground, or plant out the seedlings you have grown. 

Fabian Capomolla and Mat Pember from The Little Veggie Patch Co also recommend “Where you have planted tall, nitrogen hungry crops such as tomatoes and corn you should replenish by growing peas and/or broad beans through the cooler months…Spaces that have grown beans will be pumped full of nitrogen, ready for any of the brassicas – broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage etc – to deplete.”
 
3. What to plant – check out the below lists (by region) of what to plant now and throughout autumn:
 
http://www.mrgift.com.au/the-little-veggie-patch-co/detroit-beetroot-seeds
 


Cool/mountainous:
  • Beetroot (seed)
  • Broad Beans (seedling)
  • Broccoli (seed tray)
  • Brussel Sprouts (seed tray)
  • Bok Choi/Pak Choi (seedling)
  • Carrot (seed)
  • Cabbage (seed tray)
  • Cauliflower (seed tray)
  • Celery (seedling)
  • Fennel (seedling)
  • Garlic (bulbs)
  • Herbs (all except basil) (seedling)
  • Kale (seedling)
  • Lettuce (seedling)
  • Parsnip (seed tray)
  • Peas (seed)
  • Rocket (seedling)
  • Radish (seed)
  • Silverbeet (seedling)
  • Spinach (seedling)
  • Spring onion (seedling)
  • Turnip (seed tray)
  • Strawberry (seedling)
  • Swede (seed tray)
Temperate
  • Beetroot (seed)
  • Broad Beans (seed)
  • Broccoli (seed tray)
  • Brussel Sprouts (seed tray)
  • Bok Choi/Pak Choi (seedling)
  • Carrot (seed)
  • Cabbage (seed tray)
  • Cauliflower (seed tray)
  • Celery (seedling)
  • Fennel (seedling)
  • Garlic (bulbs)
  • Herbs (all except basil) (seedling)
  • Kale (seedling)
  • Lettuce (seedling)
  • Parsnip (seed tray)
  • Peas (seed)
  • Rocket (seedling)
  • Radish (seed)
  • Silverbeet (seedling)
  • Spinach (seedling)
  • Spring onion (seedling)
  • Turnip (seed tray)
  • Strawberry (seedling)
  • Swede (seed tray)
http://www.mrgift.com.au/the-little-veggie-patch-co/swiss-chard-seeds


Sub Tropical:
  • Beetroot (seed)
  • Broad Beans (seed tray)
  • Broccoli (seedling)
  • Bok Choi/Pak Choi (seed)
  • Carrot (seed tray)
  • Cabbage (seedling)
  • Capsicum (seed tray)
  • Cauliflower (seedling)
  • Celery (seedling)
  • Chilli (seedling)
  • Cucumber (seedling)
  • Eggplant (seedling)
  • Herbs (all) (seedling)
  • Kale (seedling)
  • Lettuce (seedling)
  • Pumpkin (seedling)
  • Rocket (seedling)
  • Radish (seed)
  • Peas (seed)
  • Silverbeet (seedling)
  • Spinach (seedling)
  • Spring onion (seedling)
  • Squash (seedling)
  • Strawberry (seedling)
  • Zucchini (seedling)
  • Squash (seedling)
  • Strawberry (seedling)
  • Sweet corn (seedling)
  • Zucchini (seedling)
http://www.mrgift.com.au/the-little-veggie-patch-co/wonder-sweet-bell-capsicum-seeds
     
 Tropical
  • Beetroot (seedling)
  • Bok Choi/Pak Choi (seed)
  • Carrot (seedling)
  • Capsicum (seed)
  • Celery (seedling)
  • Chilli (seedling)
  • Cucumber (seedling)
  • Eggplant (seedling)
  • Herbs (all except basil)
  • Lettuce (seedling)
  • Pumpkin (seedling)
  • Rocket (seedling)
  • Radish (seedling)
  • Silverbeet (seed)
  • Spinach (seedling)
  • Spring onion (seedling)
  • Squash (seedling)
  • Strawberry (seedling)
  • Zucchini (seedling)
http://www.mrgift.com.au/the-little-veggie-patch-co/bloomsdale-spinach-seeds


 4. What to harvest

Are you growing any of the below plants? If so, now is the time to be rewarded for all of your hard work:
 
  • Beetroot
  • Chives – “Harvest from the outer part of the plant using scissors or sharp, nails of death. This is the time of the year chive plants produce most seed heads and these are worth their weight in gold for the delicious purple flowers,” say The Little Veggie Patch Co guys.
  • Chilli
  • Cucumber
  • Pumpkin – When trying to work out if your pumpkin is ripe, “Colour is usually the best indicator of readiness; you can also tap the fruit and listen - a hollow sound is another indicator that it is time to harvest. When harvesting make sure to cut an inch or two up the tough vine so that it keeps,” advise The Little Veggie Patch Co guys.
  • Spring Onions
  • Sweet Corn
  • Tomato
  • Violas
  • Zucchini – Don’t leave zucchinis on the vine for too long. Picking them before they mature too much ensures that they don’t become tough and tasteless, and regular picking encourages more fruit. To pick, use either a small knife to cut the fruit from at the stem, or pull the zucchini back on itself so it breaks free cleanly, say The Little Veggie Patch Co guys.
http://www.mrgift.com.au/the-little-veggie-patch-co/tommy-toe-tomato-seeds
     
5. Love your lawn!
 
Anthony Muscat, Turf Australia President says that the cooler months of autumn are the perfect time to give your lawn a little TLC. “It’s an ideal time to treat your lawn to a ‘detox’, when the sun isn’t as harsh and there’s less garden activity.”
 
Follow these few easy steps and you’ll be on your way to a luscious lawn when the warmer months come around again…
 
1. Mow it at the right height
Keep your lawn a bit longer during the winter months by lifting your mower up a notch, from 50-60mm to about 60mm. Turf isn’t required to be mown as often in the cooler months, and decreasing the frequency of mowing will keep it thick and healthy, and free of weeds.

 
 
 
2. Fertilise it at the right time
A monthly dose of fertiliser throughout autumn (March-May) will thicken up your lawn and help turf struggle less in winter. Anthony recommends liquid fertilisers, as well as spray-on frost protection to strengthen the roots of your turf.

 
 
 
3. Check your soil conditions
Check the pH level of your soil using a simple pH test kit available from garden centres or hardware stores. Lawns prefer a slightly acidic or neutral soil – the ideal range is 6.5 to 7. If the results are less than 6.5, consult your local expert on solutions such as garden lime and dolomite. 
 
4. Drain it
Check that your lawn has good drainage to prevent water logging during excess periods of rain.
 
5. Water it
Although you don’t need to water your lawn as frequently in winter, it’s still important to offer some water during the cooler months – once every two weeks for drier gardens is ideal. Focus on watering deeply and early in the morning. 

 
 
 
6. Aerate your lawn
It’s important to let oxygen in around the roots of your lawn by opening up the soil. “Aerate” your lawn by working a pitchfork into the soil a few centimetres to leave small holes where water and fertiliser can penetrate the lawn roots. Aerating only needs to be done once in winter and summer for a healthy lawn.

 
 
 
7. Make it over
If all else fails, the cooler months are a great time to consider replacing your lawn so it’s ready to go for spring. Do some research and consult a professional to consider factors such as climate, usage and budget.
 
Thanks to our gardening experts for their tips and advice:
 
Maria Ciavarella, My Green Garden – Maria’s Italian background has exposed her to the joy of growing and preserving your own food in harmony with the seasons. Using her experience in teaching and the nursery industry, Maria loves sharing her knowledge and passion for home-grown produce with others through her business, My Green Garden. www.mygreengarden.com.au
 
Natasha Kuperman, My Home Harvestwww.myhomeharvest.com.au is a website inspiring, encouraging and supporting the urban food gardeners of Australia. Founded by Natasha Kuperman in January 2012, My Home Harvest has evolved into a comprehensive online resource that includes inspiring articles, projects and profiles that encourage visitors to engage and share their own experiences with this friendly online community.
 
Anthony Muscat, Turf Australia - Turf Australia is the representative body of the turf industry comprising more than 200 levy paying turf producers and individual members Australia wide. Turf Australia’s aim is to develop and foster the advancement and profitability of a sustainable natural turf grass industry. Turf Australia is committed to the environmentally responsible production, installation and maintenance of turf glass through training, information and development programs. For more information on how to get the most out of your turf or visit www.turfaustralia.com.au or find them on Facebook
 
Fabian Capamolla and Mat Pember, The Little Veggie Patch Co – The concept for The Little Veggie Patch Co (LVPC) was originally conceived in 2008 by Matthew Pember, who was joined by Fabian Capomolla in 2009. The duo is passionate about seeing “more people living a greener lifestyle – growing their own vegetables”. The boys both have an Italian heritage, which probably explains the importance they place on food – and not just any food, but the freshest food they can grow. “We grew up being centred with food as part of our life. We always had the back garden full of veggies and fresh food coming from the back garden, so it’s a way of life,” says Fabian. Check out The Little Veggie Patch Co products here

What are your favourite jobs to do in the garden?
 

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