Date posted: 27 April 2021
We’ve had wonderful success in the kitchen garden with lots of produce, including turnips, swedes and different varieties of kale.
In the smaller raised beds the turmeric is growing handsomely. The capers have spread, and in the first bed we have planted ginger, galamgal and Japanese ginger (you eat the flower and not the root!)
Schools and kindergartens have had a wonderful time harvesting these and taking them back to school to cook with.
Tips on how you can keep your kitchen garden thriving this autumn.
Water, water, water!
Even though we may have had some rain, fruit trees (especially citrus) need about 200 litres or more of water per week.
How do you achieve the right amount? Well, time how long it takes to fill up a standard sized bucket or watering can (which hold around 9-10 litres). You can then work out how long it will take to get 200 litres of water into the ground at that hose flow rate. Or give yourself a bit of a work out by re-filling the watering can 20 times!
It is better to treat the roots to a deep water twice a week than lots of small surface waters, and don't forget to water your other crops too. Even without 20-30 degree days, they will still get thirsty.
Pesky pests can be problematic on veggies, including kale. Although we had a great crop this year, we can't say the same for last year when we had a huge problem with white fly.
To help combat this in an environmentally friendly way, this year we planted amaranth, garlic and garlic onions around the kale crops (see below). We think these plants have kept the white fly at bay.
Another thing you can try is to take a plastic-coated piece of yellow paper (pop it in an old plastic sleeve or laminate it if you can), and coat it in olive oil. Then disturb the infested plants with gentle shake and they will be attracted to the yellow colour of the paper, get stuck in the oil and can be washed or wiped off.
If you have aphids, try hosing them off with a strong jet of water and wait for the lady birds - and their tiny lizard-like larvae - to come and gobble them up!
Prepare your soil
Get your soil winter-ready by adding plenty of organic matter and natural fertilizers to it now. Your local nursery can help you work out what is likely to best for the area you live in.
Another thing to consider to improve your soil health is crop rotation. If you've just pulled out the last of fruiting plants like tomatoes and zucchinis, in their place try planting root crops that don't mind nutrient-poor soil. Hello carrots!
What to plant now?
Autumn is the time to get garlic in the ground. We've popped ours in (pointy bit facing skywards), as well as a plot of 'novella' peas, which are growing really well.
You can also try planting bush green peas which won't need stakes to grow up and will give prolific pods with lots of peas inside!
Onion, garlic, lettuce and broad beans all grow well in autumn. Try planting some different varieties to add some diversity into your patch. The Diggers shop in Adelaide Botanic Garden has a wide variety of heirloom seeds and seedlings to help you on your way.
As you plan what you are putting in the ground, try planning to keep some airflow around the plants as they grow, which can help keep some of the less desirable insects away.
The importance of pollinators
We have undertaken a number of pollinator audits with our visitors and found that we have a variety of pollinators in the kitchen garden, including beautiful native blue-banded bees and different butterflies.
It's always a good idea to have flowers in your kitchen garden to attract pollinators because they will help your fruit and vegetables grow by fertilising them to produce their fruit (including things we might not think of as fruit like peas, eggplants and capsicums).
Consider planting some pollinator-attracting perennials in your patch this autumn, along with a native bee 'hotel' - a place where our endemic, solitary bees can raise their young to keep their numbers strong and your tomato plants even stronger!
Kitchen Garden Workshops
Our kitchen garden workshops are friendly ways to give you practical, hands-on knowledge of how to start and maintain a kitchen garden of your own. Held on Sunday afternoons in Adelaide Botanic Garden, there is a workshop to suit everyone! Find out more here.
Happy sprouting, gardening friends!