by Kyla Van Heerden

Autumn edibles 

Although summer has loved and left us, autumn has come with its own wonderful variety of food to grow. As temperatures drop, remember to grab some frostprotection from your garden centre and be ready to cover up before you’re caught off guard. 

TOP FRUIT TREE TIP: Plant new fruit trees from April onwards to ensure they have time to settle in before spring and summer harvests. 

Winter prep 

Revitalise your veggie beds to boost winter crops and give roots added nutrients. Mix in a hearty dose of compost to your soil with a handful of organic bone meal.

Prune back old canes of raspberries and blackberries that have finished fruiting, and feed citrus trees with a general fertiliser and a handful of Epsom salts. Remember to keep all fallen leaves to use as mulch or add to the compost heap. 

Hearty herbs 

Start sowing herb seeds in windowsill containers but avoid leaving plants near glass overnight as the cold chill may hinder their growth. Plants should be ready for transplanting into larger patio containers or beds by the time spring rolls in. 

From soil to bowl 

Winter veggies are ready to be planted for delicious soups and stews to enjoy during the chilly nights. Remember that your garden centre supplies both vegetable seed packets and seedlings to get you started. Glam up your veg beds with rows of ornamental kale between other autumn edibles. 

Good winter companion plants for kale are beetroot, violas and pansies (both have edible flowers), onions, nasturtiums and spinach. Sow and plant these cool-season sensations now for an autumn/winter harvest:

• Cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower

• Broad beans, Brussel sprouts, and onions

• Spinach, leeks, celery, and peas

• Gooseberries, beetroot, and garlic

• Oriental veggie varieties available at your garden centre

BEDDING BESTIE TIP: Do companion planting with wild garlic, yarrow, comfrey, and Marigolds to assist with soil nutrition and natural pest control.

TOP CROP TIP: Be careful not to overpopulate your space. Your veggies will increase in size and need room to grow and climb. Planting too close together will also cause veggies to shade one another. Refer to seed packets and container labels for spacing instructions.  

Coastal gardening

Sprout some mung beans, chickpeas, lentils, and Alfalfa to use in salads and stir-fries. For microgreen treats, sow a mix of salad greens, radishes, baby spinach, and beets in a window box. Snip off the germinating young stems and leaves to use on sandwiches or in your daily smoothie. In outdoor beds, sow the following veggie seeds this month:

• Beetroot, broad beans, cabbage, carrot, celery, garlic, kohlrabi, leek lettuce, onion, parsley, parsnip, peas, radish, Swiss chard, and turnips. 

• In coastal KZN and the lowveld, exclude onions and rather sow Brussel sprouts, capsicum, cucumber, brinjal, bush beans, pumpkin, runner beans, tomatoes, and marrows.

Pest alert 

Aphids will still be around this time of the year, although their numbers will be less than in spring. Give your plants a close inspection and treat as early as possible. 

Snails and slugs love snaking on seedlings so be sure to put out some snail bait. 

Autumn is the peak season for leaf miners, causing twisting and curling on new leaves. Get the right product from your garden centre where you can get further advice on how to treat infestations. 

TOP TIP: Watch out for ant movement, the main culprits for transferring disease around the garden. 

Enjoy all the spoils of your homegrown goodness this autumn and don’t forget to share some with our wildlife. Leaving out fruit, seeds, and fresh water will attract birds and other garden helpers at a time when food is scarce.

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