Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Planning an Autumn Vegie Patch

I am not a seasoned vegetable grower and still had my learners on when I planted my Spring vegie garden. Surprisingly the research I did beforehand, and a fair bit of dumb luck, gave me some wonderful results, and I am still harvesting several months later. I have made many mistakes, planting out of season, using the wrong fertilisers, watering incorrectly etc, but i have learnt from my mistakes and all of them are documented on my blog, which is a wonderful reference to look back on next Spring. Now it is all about Autumn planting and I am sharing the process I have gone through to plan my Autumn vegie patch, as a reminder for next March, and also to encourage some of you to give it a go. Even if you have never gardened before, it is amazing the results you can have, like in the photograph above :)

The first thing I do is research. This is my favourite gardening magazine, and at the beginning of every season they tell me what grows well in my area, South East Queensland. My area is classified as sub tropical and I make a list of suggested crops and suggested fertilisers and soil preparation.

Down To Earth
I also rely a lot upon Rhonda's advice. Her book is invaluable and I am constantly referring back to her website for advice when I run into problems. She lives about an hour from me so I follow her planting guides and will be planting garlic this winter at her suggestion. Check out her blog if you are starting a garden from scratch for the very first time. It's where I got all of my information for my Spring garden.


                                          March                   April      Seedling              Sow Direct           Full Sun
Asian Greens                     x                              x              x
Basil                                   x                                                                              x
Beans                                 x                              x                                              x                              x
Beetroot                                                             x              x
Broad Beans                                                      x                                              x
Broccoli                             x                               x                                             x                                                                            
Cabbage                             x                              x              x
Carrot                                 x                              x                                              x
Cauliflower                        x                              x              x                                                              x
Coriander                                                           x                                             x
Cucumber                           x                                              x
Eggplant                            x                                                                              x                              x
English Spinach                                                                x                                              x
Garlic                                                                    x                                              x
Kale                                      x                              x              x                              x
Leek                                      x                              x                                              x                              x
Lettuce                                 x                              x              x                              x
Onion                                                                   x                                              x
Parsley                                 x                              x                                              x
Pea                                                                       x                                              x                              x
Potato                                  x                              x                                              x
Silverbeet                            x                              x              x                              x                              x
Snow Pea                                                            x                                              x                              x
Spring Onion                     x                              x                                              x                              x
Strawberry                                                         x                                              x
Sweet Corn                         x                                                                              x                              x

Tomato                               x                              x              x                                                              x

I then  got very organised and made up a table on my computer of what I wanted to plant from the suggestions given. Over the past couple of months I have been gathering seeds from various sources...nurseries, specials bins, neighbours, my own harvesting...

...and my favourite seed supplier The Seed Collection (most seeds are only $1 pack with free postage if you spend $5) recommended by my friend Nanna Chel who has a lovely blog Going Grey and Slightly Green. Visit her for some handy gardening (and craft) tips and a fantastic series on herbs.

I then researched which seeds are best to grow by seedlings and which to plant direct. Each seed packet recommends which is best. So, to get an early start I planted my cabbage, lettuce and tomatoes into seedling trays in February. I used good quality seed raising mix and water them with a teaspoon of epsom salts dissolved in the water (as suggested by Rhonda). Seems to be doing the job.

These are the seeds I will sow direct this month. My snow peas and broad beans will wait till April as suggested.

Next step was the preparation of my garden beds. I had to clear away all of the weeds and remnants of vegetables that died during the heatwave.

I then raked back the existing mulch to prepare the soil underneath. In Spring I had good quality topsoil delivered so I am only preparing the top 10cm of this soil, to replace what the growing plants may have taken from it.

I added some organic cow manure. I can pick up bags of manure from local farms a lot cheaper but this has already been composted and worked well last time.

I also added some of my own compost for extra organic matter. It's the first time I have used it so I hope it works :) i googled pictures to make sure it looked okay and whilst it could have been a little finer, I think it will do the job.

I sprinkled the manure and the compost onto the soil with a shovel.

Then I dug it into the top layer, about ten centimetres deep.

Finally I covered it with a layer of organic cane mulch. We are expecting rain this week so I will let the mulch and the manure settle in before planting out this weekend. 

This is a very rough picture I drew to plan where I am going to plant, according to sun requirements, and ensuring that I have rotated crops ie. don't plant the same thing in the same place as last season.

So, there you have my grand master plan for my Autumn vegie patch. It will be lovely to see how it progresses over the next few months. Wish me luck with the rain!

Are you planning an Autumn Vegie Patch?

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