So much for the dry start to autumn – I think we’ve caught up with our rain allocation! What a lovely time for planting, with the soil still warm enough for strong growth too.
There are a lot of bugs around though – whitefly, aphids and cabbage moth caterpillars have been causing their share of damage around Adelaide, and the prospect of a mouse plague on Yorke Peninsula doesn’t fill me with delight either. Nature sees the opportunity in abundant resources, delivering extra spiders to our garden to catch the bugs. Small native birds, nesting in prickly native shrubs, will also feast on sap-sucking insects, as will ladybirds, unless the crops have been sprayed with insecticides – chemical or natural. But mice are followed by snakes and cats, both of which also eat small birds and their eggs. For this reason I’m keeping the compost well stirred to reduce its appeal as a nesting spot, clearing out clutter wherever possible, and ensuring that the chook feed is inaccessible overnight.
The autumn leaves are starting to fall now, providing material for compost and/or leaf mould – a great soil improver and seed raising mix ingredient (see Tim Marshall’s books for instructions).
Strawberry runners have established their roots now and these have been planted out into recycled gutters on the wall of the chook house (with some shade and irrigation available for summer so they don’t dry out too readily). Most strawberry plants will fruit well for a couple of years and then decline, so it pays to propagate some runners each year to gradually replace the older plants – but beware of letting the bed become overcrowded.
If your soil has been well soaked, consider starting to plant local native plants – pop up to Belair National Park to visit the State Flora nursery or down to Wayville for the native plant expo and sale this weekend (details below). Here you can find lists of specific plants for attracting everything from butterflies, frogs and bats to koalas in your garden.
In the veg patch, now is the time to be planting broad beans, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, coriander, dill, endive, fennel, garlic, spring onions, kale, lettuces, corn salad (mache), mizuna, mustard, onions, pak choi, peas, radiccio, radishes, rocket, spinach, swede and turnip.
As thistles and juicy weeds make a comeback with the rain, this provides a feast for chooks. Curl grubs in the soil are also a rich chook treat so watch out for these when digging and planting vegetables. And for soursobs, pull them out rather than digging where possible, to avoid triggering more of their dormant bulbils into growth.
Garden-related events around Adelaide
- Bev Lane’s “Use Your Weeds” workshop tomorrow at Mt Pleasant
- Native Plant Sale – Wayville Showgrounds all this weekend
- Transitions Film Festival including screening of “Seed: The Untold Story“ – Mercury Cinema
- Seeds ($4/pack), watercolour paintings (from $22)
- Pip permaculture magazines ($12)
- Pet portraits (from $70). Email your selected photo to email@example.com.
- For fruit trees and plants contact Sally on 0438 512 389.
- Home consultations are available for planning and designing your edible garden. Contact Nadja on 0410 636 857 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.