Autumn Vegetable Growing
There is lots to do in the food garden in April and just because the Autumn Foliage has started covering our trees and Winter seems imminent, that doesn’t mean that gardening has to cease! Click |HERE| for your April Gardening Guide and activities to do in your garden this month.
Don’t slow down now! Autumn is a good time to grow vegetables in containers. The milder days are less stressful for the veggies than the blistering heat of summer. Looking ahead to winter, containers can be shifted into sunny, sheltered areas, especially if the veggie garden is draughty or doesn’t get enough winter sunshine.
Position for Autumn Veggies:
Autumn and winter veggies need 5 – 6 hours of sun a day and there should be good air circulation. Move the pots around to make the most of the sun.
Container Size for Planting Autumn Veggies:
The bigger the better, because larger containers hold more soil (which doesn’t dry out as quickly). The shape of the container, round or square, doesn’t matter, provided the plant has enough space for its roots and top growth.
- Broccoli, cabbage, kale: One plant per large plastic pot (35 – 43cm diameter). Baby cabbage can be grown in 20 – 35cm pots.
- Spinach, lettuce – One plant per 20 – 35cm plastic pot or three plants in a 50cm pot or trough. Space 10cm apart.
- Baby carrots, radishes, beetroot – Direct sow seed into troughs/ window boxes or pots that are at least 20cm deep. Thin to 10cm apart.
Types of Containers for Autumn Veggies:
The lighter the type of pot the easier it is to move. Try a planter box with castors so that it can be wheeled into position. Terracotta pots are heavy and more porous, which means they need more watering, but with many sizes and shapes available these allow you to tailor to the veggies you are planting. Wooden planter boxes are a favourite, amongst other more innovative ideas such as old wheelbarrows or troughs.
Soil Mix for Autumn Veggies:
Use the best quality potting soil, not ordinary garden soil. However, commercial potting soil does not contain enough nutrients for vegetables. Mix in the following supplements:
- Fertilis Earthworm Castings;
- Vita Grow 2:3:2 fertilizer;
- Vermiculite for good water retention;
- Agricultural lime (also called dolomitic lime), which contains calcium and magnesium, as most edibles like a higher level than is present in commercial potting mixes.
Line the bottom of the container with hessian cloth or weed-guard fabric to ensure good drainage before filling it.
Container Growing Tips for Your Autumn Veggies:
- Water often and adjust to changing temperatures as days become cooler.
- Spray pests with organic, non-toxic solutions like Biogrow Pyrol, Ludwig’s Insect Spray or Margaret Roberts Organic Insecticide for pest attacks like bollworm, vegetarian ladybird, scale or mealybug, as well as for aphids, white fly and red spider mite.
- Starting about a month after planting, feed your vegetables about once a week with a water-soluble fertiliser, like Margaret Roberts Organic Supercharger, or a home-made manure/green tea. Alternately feed with a slow-release fertiliser like Vita Fruit & Flower 3:1:5 every 3 – 4 months or as per crop requirements.
Don’t forget to add the vegetable container garden soil to your compost at the end of the season. Reusing soil from year to year can spread infections and insect infestations. Scrub the container and rinse with a solution of one-part bleach to 10 parts water, then rinse with clean water and store in a dry spot.
Info Supplied by The Gardener Magazine