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Plant it – a guide to autumn veggies

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plantit-autumnharvest1.jpgAs harvest time draws to a close, it’s time to fill up the veggie patch again with more produce to enjoy over the cooler months.

When, where and how to plant

Sow hardy year-round veggies including: beetroot, spinach, carrots, winter lettuce, radishes and silver beat. Use Tui Seed Raising Mix as a base to ensure optimum results. Carrots will take a week or two to germinate but will establish themselves before too long.

You can go nuts and plant most seedlings available at garden centres. By planting seedlings you can fast track harvest in the garden.

Now is the perfect time to plant all members of the brassica family (cabbages, caulis, broccoli, bok choy, kale, cavalo nero) as they enjoy the cooler temperatures. Plant at least 2 hand widths apart as they will grow more quickly.  

Spinach and silver beet enjoy autumn conditions and harvesting can begin within a month or so after planting. Select outer leaves to use first.

In raised planters, add in some more vegetable mix and Novatec fertiliser to give the plants a boost as valuable nutrients, gobbled up by spring and summer crops, will need to be replaced.

Salad greens can be sown or planted. Mesclun mix will happily germinate and grow through the winter months. Rocket, mizuna, corn salad, chicory and kale will feed you for months on end if kept well watered and regularly harvested.

Drunken Lady, a red, frilly type of lettuce that likes a constant supply of liquids, thrives in the winter (a bit like another lady I know!). It is a reliable and popular choice for both its flavour and cheeky name.  

Red leafed Raddihico, which Jamie Oliver loves, is a cool season crop too. Because the plants aren’t widely available, seeds are the best option.

plantit-cabbages.jpgCare  

With slugs and snails lingering this time of year, be sure to lay plenty of slug and snail bait, such as Tui Quash, to protect your patch.

Don’t remove Broccoli plants once you have cut the first head. New smaller heads of broccoli will appear in a few weeks below the first and continue to sprout for the rest of the season. This makes broccoli one of the most economical and easy veggies to grow.

Thinning of carrots is important in the autumn and winter as the growth is slower. Thinning enables the roots to develop faster.

If you do decide to put up the closed sign for the winter while you enjoy a holiday, treat your soil to a green manure crop; it’s an old term, which means to plant a crop that feeds the soil in the same way as manure. Tui Mustard and Lupin are popular green manure crop choices. Easy to grow, these plants fix nitrogen from the air into the soil once the plants have been dug into the soil in late winter. Your soil will reward you with healthy and tasty vegetables next season following a well-earned break over the winter.

Click here for more hints and tips for growing vegetables.

Contributed by Rachel Vogan

Garden-NZ has an Autumn Veggie Growing Kit to give away to one lucky reader. Click here for details and to enter today!