Our customer base is a pretty savvy and well informed one, and this is always reinforced in autumn as sales of native plants soar. Good gardeners are well aware that this is the ideal time to plant natives, and suddenly Claire is doubling orders for natives as they walk off the bench. The weather can still provide us with warm days in April, but without the hot sun and with rain happening or imminent it’s an ideal time for gardening and planting. Now is also the perfect time to start preparing your winter vegie patch. There’s plenty to do in the garden in April, so put summer behind you and get cracking!
In Your Produce Garden
Unless there is absolutely no rain, vegies grown over autumn and winter are usually hardier than the summer crop, and after they are established they may only need the occasional water and liquid feed. April is an ideal time to plant, so don’t leave the beds empty. Your vegie beds can play host now to seedlings of broccoli, cabbage, Asian Greens, leeks, and onions. For an over view look at Vegie Patch Basics.
Fertilising and Soil Health
Autumn, as in spring, is the ideal time to fertilise your garden. Many plants, especially evergreens, put on most of their root growth in autumn. Warm soil and mild conditions with rain lead to a refreshing burst of growth on most evergreen plants. It is a time when soil nutrient levels make a big difference to your plants. Soil improvement is the best way to ensure that you get the best out of your plants. Feed your soil rather than the plants alone. Improved soil structure leads to healthier, more drought-tolerant and disease-resistant gardens. We have a LOT of information on soils – as it is a bit of a passion for various staff members – check it out at our soil health page We now also stock bentonite for people on sandy soils or people wanting to improve the soil mix they buy in from a landscape yard (as these commonly have no clay component).
Autumn is a good time for mushrooms too. There are boxes of mushroom spores available that are easy to grow if you follow the simple instructions. There are a couple of different types available, and kids love watching them grow and harvesting them. Remember to keep the mixture moist and cool at all times.
Bulbs are, by their very nature, extremely drought tolerant and can be planted in containers or straight into the ground. Pack the bulbs close together, without actually touching for a massed effect. Since they will not flower for a few months yet, plant alyssum, pansies, violas or other small seedlings over them for some immediate colour. The bulbs will poke through in time. We have a great range of packaged and loose bulbs in stock at the moment.
Lift Gladiolus, Liliums and Dahlias after they have finished blooming and the foliage has yellowed off.
Citrus trees need feeding at least twice a year. Leafminer has not been bad this year – but if you do find it, simply prune off. See our fact sheet on citrus leafminer for extra information.
Rake up fallen leaves and add them to the compost heap. Layer them through the heap, or shred them with your lawnmower first, rather than adding them all at once, as they will matt together and not break down readily otherwise. A handful of blood and bone or other high nitrogen organic fertiliser will help break them down more quickly. Perhaps keep a garbage bag full of leaves next to your heap to add a handful every now and again.
Prune back perennials that have finished flowering. Pull out old stakes, clean up and store until spring.
Cut back the amount of water supplied to succulents, cacti and tropical and indoor plants as the weather cools down. Excessive moisture and cold temperatures may cause these plants to rot over the winter.
Autumn rains bring out snails and slugs in full force. Lightly sprinkle bait around newly planted seedlings and shrubs where snails and slugs breed, or try a beer trap to lure them in and drown them. Use snail and slug baits that are iron-based, and safer to use with pets and wildlife. Begonias, lilies and other fleshy leaved plants are popular hiding spots.