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In the Autumn Garden by Cath Manuel

27 February, 2019

After a long hot Summer in Australia, now is a beautiful time of year to enjoy being outdoors and tending to the gardens.

Autumn is the start of the cool season and the time to grow a variety of delicious foods in the kitchen garden.

But before planting your new crops, there’s a few jobs to get done.

Get started with these…

  • Prepare the soil in gardens for growing autumn crops by removing summer plants that have finished growing. Chop up foliage and lay on the soil to decompose. Give the soil a light dig over and apply a deep soaking of water. Then follow my simple steps for feeding the soil prior to planting. https://soiltosupper.com/5-easy-ways-to-feed-your-garden-and-grow-more-food/
  • After a warm summer re-pot any potted plants that have tired, old potting mix. One simple way to re-hydrate pot plants is to immerse the whole pot into a bucket containing diluted organic liquid fertiliser. This will give all the roots and soil a good soaking and prepare the plants for potting up or re-blending old potting mix with some fresh mix. Apply slow release fertiliser pellets when re-potting to provide extra nutrients to herbs, flowers and veggies.
  • Prune shrubs that have become overgrown in summer. Trim back foliage that hangs over pathways or seating areas, cut back fruiting shrubs and small trees to a size suitable for harvesting fruit and also remove any disease or damaged foliage. Place chopped up cuttings in compost bins.

Once your gardens are ready it’s time for planting!

A few ideas are…

  • Choose suitable plants to grow for the season. A great website for what to grow in each climate is gardenate.com Through the cooler months grow the Brassica family (broccoli, kale, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, bok choy), silverbeet, garlic, leeks, potatoes, broad beans and peas. Try growing sweet peas for beautiful aroma in the garden and for picking and placing into vases indoors.
  • Grow companion plants for the brassica crops. Try lettuce, celery, onion, nasturtium, borage or aromatic plants with flowers like dill, thyme, rosemary, or sage. Read more on companion plants here… https://soiltosupper.com/how-to-grow-companion-plants-in-your-garden/
  • Autumn is a lovely time to grow fresh Parsley. Plant directly into rich soil or a container with quality potting mix. Parsley is a biennial and will grow for two full growth seasons before flowering and going to seed. Once seeds have formed and dried collect them for replanting.
  • The French potager garden provides wonderful inspirations for plants to grow. Blend flowers with vegetables and use herbs as border plants. This offers many opportunities for sensory experiences and especially useful in a therapeutic garden.

TIP – after replanting apply a 5cm layer of sugar cane or other fine mulch over soil and around plants. This helps to retain moisture and slow down weed growth.

With the cooler months ahead of us, now is a perfect time for gardeners of all ages to enjoy digging, pruning, replanting, weeding and other gardening tasks.

Include these activities in programs in aged care homes for residents to have purpose and meaning to the days, along with fun and good social interaction.

Growing with you,


Cath Manuel is a Horticultural Consultant specialising in Therapeutic and Kitchen Gardens. Cath is the Founder and Director of Soil to Supper which provides onsite services and also online programs through the Soil to Supper Community. She is the host of The Wellbeing Garden Podcast Program.

Cath has many years’ experience in the horticulture industry and has a great passion for sharing her knowledge to inspire people of all ages and abilities to enjoy gardening activities and grow fresh food. She shares her knowledge through programs, consultations, events and various media publications.

Cath holds a Diploma in Horticulture, Certificate in Permaculture Design and Horticultural Therapy.

Find more on therapeutic gardening at www.soiltosupper.com