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Veggie patch with plants growing
For a garden that keeps on giving throughout winter, now is the time to put in the work.

A time to sow

As the summer heat retreats, now is the time to sow cool-season crop seeds. There are plenty of goodies you can plant now which will yield a harvest from late autumn through winter. Here’s what you need to do.

Clean and clear

Start by clearing garden beds. “Remove weeds, debris and the dried remains of your summer harvest,” says horticulturist Sharon Fairbairn of Floriana. Next, use a fork to dig the beds over and enrich the soil with organic matter, like aged animal manure or compost. “This ensures the soil is fertile and well aerated, perfect for sowing or planting,” says Sharon. A similar process applies to any vegetables grown in pots. “Remove old plants, scoop out a large portion of the existing potting mix, loosen the remaining soil and backfill with a premium mix,” says Sharon.

In addition, mulching is a must to help conserve moisture and regulate soil temperature. “This is an important task for every season,” says permaculture designer Laurie Green of Grow Gather Graze (growgathergraze.com). “Ensure mulch is kept away from stems as this can cause plants to rot.”

Raised vegetable bed with gardening tools

Go to ground

Try to stagger plantings to ensure a steady supply. “Let some beds rest by growing a green manure crop,” says Laurie. “The nutrients from these help to rejuvenate the soil and to feed and support next year’s crop.” Try Mr Fothergill’s green manure mix seeds.

Vegies to sow now:

Swiss chard

Swiss chard is also known as silverbeet, with its colourful varieties referred to as rainbow chard. This is a stalwart of the autumn vegie patch. Its puckered leaves are robust, packed with vitamins and nutrients, and can be harvested for up to six months. It prefers a spot in full sun with well-drained soil. To harvest, simply twist and pull the stems from the base. Harvest: 8-12 weeks.

Close up of vibrant colours of stems of rainbow chard grown in a community garden allotment plot

Broccoli

This nutritious brassica is a must-have for the autumn vegie patch. It doesn’t take up much room and is surprisingly productive: once the central head is harvested, small side shoots develop and can be cut for use. Grow Broccolini® or ‘kailaan’ (Chinese broccoli) if you prefer compact flower heads and crisp stems. Feed fortnightly with liquid fertiliser. Harvest: 16-20 weeks.

Fresh broccoli plant with flower head, growing in a home garden

Peas

These crisp pods are delicious raw or cooked and are easily grown in garden beds or pots. Snow peas and sugar snap peas can be eaten whole, but traditional varieties like ‘Greenfeast’ and ‘Telephone’ need to be removed from their pods before consuming. Choose a sunny, well-drained spot and provide a trellis for support. Harvest: 10-14 weeks.

Green peas growing on a vine

Garlic

Patience is required to grow garlic, says Sharon. “It takes up to nine months before it’s ready, but it’s super hardy and able to cope with cold winter conditions.” To plant, split the bulb into individual cloves and push them, pointy end up, into loose, friable soil. They should be just below the surface, spaced 10-15cm apart. Harvest: from 24 weeks.

Harvested garlic from a garden bed

Spring onions

Depending on how you like to eat them, spring onions can be harvested whole or used as a ‘cut and come again’ vegie – simply snip the hollow green leaves as required. Either way, you will still enjoy their mild onion flavour. Place in full sun and feed regularly with a liquid fertiliser. For a longer supply, sow successive crops every three to four weeks. Harvest: 8-10 weeks.

Young onions (Allium cepa) growing.]

Cauliflower

It’s best to get this cruciferous vegie in early as it requires a long growing season to develop the flowering heads or ‘curds’. “But it’s also important to wait until the morning and evening temperatures start to cool, as planting too early can cause the heads to flower prematurely,” says Sharon. Position in full sun and dig in plenty of organic matter. Harvest: 14-18 weeks.

Cauliflower in a field shot close up.]

Broad beans

This bushy plant has large pods with beans that have a distinct nutty taste, which makes it a perfect addition in soups or salads. Sow seeds direct where they are to grow and water in well. Avoid watering again until the first leaves appear. Use stakes or a trellis for support, especially once top-heavy with pods. In warmer climates, delay planting until the weather cools. Harvest: 16-20 weeks.

A crop of broad bean plants ready for harvesting

Beetroot

You don’t need a lot of space to grow this root vegie – it’s ideal for pots, containers or garden beds. Choose a spot in part-shade to full sun, enrich the soil with compost and water regularly to ensure they’re tender and juicy. As the leaves grow, you can harvest the outer foliage for use in salads. Pick sparingly, though, as the plant still needs leaves to flourish. Harvest: 8-10 weeks.

Harvested beetroot in a basket

Keep in mind:

  • After applying fertiliser around edible plants, delay harvesting for a few days and rinse well before cooking and eating.   
  • Safety tip: When using garden chemicals, always wear the appropriate safety equipment and always follow the product’s instructions. Store all garden chemicals out of the reach of children and pets.

Learn more about planting and growing broccoli

Check out our full guide on how to grow this nutritious vegetable in Australia.

 

Photo Credit: Gap Photos/Carole Drake, Gap Photos/Joanna Kossak and Getty Images.

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Health & Safety

Asbestos, lead-based paints and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber are health hazards you need to look out for when renovating older homes. These substances can easily be disturbed when renovating and exposure to them can cause a range of life-threatening diseases and conditions including cancer. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer or visit our Health & Safety page.

When following our advice in our D.I.Y. videos, make sure you use all equipment, including PPE, safely by following the manufacturer’s instructions. Check that the equipment is suitable for the task and that PPE fits properly. If you are unsure, hire an expert to do the job or talk to a Bunnings Team Member.