Growing Autumn Winter Vegetables
Autumn is a great time of the year to plant those vegetables and herbs that love cooler conditions. These will be ready to harvest throughout Winter and Spring, providing fresh produce and ingredients for your home.
Autumn and Winter vegetables to plant
The following are some of the key considerations for growing vegetables through Autumn & Winter.
Sunlight is very important for all vegetables – fruiting and flowering vegetables require the most whilst leafy and root vegetables require less. Remember that the sun is lower in its path across the sky in Winter, resulting in an increased amount of shade, especially if your garden has trees or high structures around it. Therefore, position your Winter garden in the sunniest section of your property, as long as it is not exposed to high winds or frost. If your garden gets very little Winter sunlight, focus on growing leafy vegetables such as Lettuce, Spinach and Pak Choi, and root vegetables such as Onions and Parsnip.
Frost has a critical impact on most plants, especially young ones that are fragile to temperature extremes. If you live in a climate with regular frost, ensure plants are established early so they can tolerate the temperature changes better. Some vegetables can tolerate a bit of frost and for some it even improves the taste, for example, Snow Pea and Parsnip.
Timing your planting
Getting your plants underway early before the cold weather sets in can help with increasing their robustness to cope with temperature extremes. However, beware of warmer season pests such as caterpillars and snails.
It is important to recognise the full growing period of your plants. Consider what the weather conditions are from planting the seed to expected harvest. Some of the leafy vegetables are ready for harvest in as little as 6 weeks, while some root vegetables can take 18 weeks to mature. Check the seed packet for further details.
Minimum Soil Temperatures for Seed Sowing and Germination:
The ideal or optimal soil temperature for planting and growing
most vegetables is 18°C to 24°C.
Pests and diseases
There are fewer pests and diseases in the cooler part of the year, giving you much needed relief from constant pest control. However, continue to ensure good air circulation through adequate spacing to minimise growth of fungal diseases such as powdery mildew, and avoid watering the leaves of the plants as trapped moisture will harbour diseases.
Another advantage of growing in Winter is that less watering is needed due to lower evaporation rate. You may only need to water your plants during longer dry spells. Feed your plants with organic matter such as manure, fish or seaweed solution every few weeks to encourage rapid growth and maximise your crop.
Once you have harvested your garden look to plant green manure crop which will improve the soil structure and nutrient levels prior to your Spring sowing. Dig them into the soil when mature to provide nitrogen and organic matter as they rot.