Autumn is an awesome time for growing your vegies

QUITE often we find as gardeners in our Northern Rivers sub-tropical climate that we listen to advice from folks living in the much cooler southern climes. So here are some tips for planting vegies now in our autumn, which will be ready for harvesting in winter.

Summer in our sub-tropical region is warm and humid so a bit tricky for growing lettuce as they quickly run to seed. But try autumn and you are likely to get a beautiful crop for colourful salads or a special Caesar. Our winter months, being generally drier and cooler, work in favour of the gardener.

Some suggestions for sub-tropical vegies you could now consider planting include peas, dwarf beans and carrots. Mignonette lettuce are good rather than the big hearting varieties. Try broccoli, sugar loaf cabbage, and beetroot too.

These days you can buy seeds impregnated in tape at the required seedling spacing. You can use a 50cm stick as a row marker to get them even.

To sow the seeds just follow the pack directions. Why not sprinkle some radish seeds along the row as they germinate within a few days and not only do you get a crop but they act as row markers? It helps when hoeing between the rows so you don't destroy your vegies.

Do regular hoeing as this keeps the weeds down and actually reduces water loss with evaporation.

Another trick is to water newly planted seeds with a scant teaspoon of Epsom Salts in a litre of water. This helps the plant to extract goodness from the soil before leaves develop.

Always water in seedlings with a seaweed and water solution. Seaweed contains vitamin B1 which helps the plant overcome transplant shock and results in a much earlier yielding plant.

A big thanks too to Colin Campbell for supplying me with some great hints. So sad he is not with us today, but his wonderful gardening expertise carries on.

Soil

If you want good vegies, the absolute first thing to do is get the soil right. If you have a scientific bent you can check the pH of the soil with a test kit. The pH needs to be between 6 and 6.5, very close to neutral.

You can adjust pH by, generally in our area, using dolomite at the required rate.

Once the pH is good you should now add a good organic fertiliser with a good supply of potash in it.

Spread evenly over the ground and rake in.

You can buy pH testing kits and all the dolomite or fertiliser you need at local gardening centres/hardware stores.



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