State of the Garden: End of Autumn

Well, May is done, and with it, Autumn.


We had a couple of light frosts in May. Didn’t do much more than kill the basil and singe the nasturtiums. I have a young moringa in one of the gardens the frost knocked the top off of. I’m hoping the roots survive, because they’re a hell of a thing to germinate and it’s not the kind of tree you can just buy here.

Most of my autumn planting has been done, though I was a bit late to sow some things I really wanted to get going before winter. Like carrots.

But the garlic is in and has sprouted, and I went and bought some red onion seedlings and planted them. I was a bit lax with my sowing, so even though I have seed, I really wanted them growing already. I’ve discovered that spring is too late to plant red onions, because they’re not marvellous keepers and we don’t eat them much over winter.


I’m going to sow some of my brown longkeeper onions indoors, so they’re ready to plant at the tail end of winter to catch some cold. They can sit in the garden a lot longer and be ready for harvest in autumn. Well, we’ll see how that goes, anyway. I’ve got perennial onions in the garden as backup if it all goes pear shaped. In fact, I harvested so many egyptian walking onions last year that it’ll be worth throwing a row in the annual bed, because I’m pretty sure we won’t eat them all!

I got the onions backwards last year. My longkeepers went in in autumn, and half of them went to seed over the summer, and the red onions went in in spring and now I have a huge pile of them right when we’re not eating a whole lot of salads… If my red onions go to seed in summer this year, it’s really not a problem, because I pull them and eat them fresh most of the time anyway.

I had to go and buy broccoli seedlings this year because my sowing was fail, so I’m just growing two types of broccoli this year (that’s most of what we eat anyway, and I have kale plants in my perennial beds that are growing into their second and third years, so I don’t see a whole lot of point in planting more). There’s an early head variety, and a purple sprouting. I don’t expect them to produce much until spring, but that’ll give us something awesome to look forward to.


I’ll follow the broccoli with dwarf kidney beans when I yank them out in frustration at the white butterflies once they return in summer. Though they were late coming back last year. I encourage paper wasps to nest in my garden, which possibly keeps the population down.

I’ve also chucked a row of rocket in beside the broccoli. That was kind of an impulse buy, because it’s not something we usually eat. But it’ll be extra greens for winter when the choices are basically kale, or spinach, or silverbeet/chard (or frozen stuff – from the supermarket! Yuck. I didn’t freeze any beans this year – we ate them all!) Something fresh for sandwiches will be lovely.

That rocket is the only winter green I have growing in the annual garden this year. The kale goes year after year, and biennials like silverbeet and celery and parsley I let self-seed, so they live in the perennial beds, and I’ve got a huge swath of perennial Native Spinach beside the house where the frost really doesn’t reach. I’m not counting the broccoli, because we won’t be eating it until spring.

There’s a few lingering peppers around the garden, in frost-free places, and I’m hoping they’ll make it through the winter. Even the ones in frosty parts of the garden are hanging in there still. A light frost doesn’t kill them dead, which is nice. A good hard frost will finish them off, but I have one hot pepper that made it through last winter (actually had fruit slowly ripening on it throughout the winter). I find that the sheltered spot between the house and the garage often gets off quite lightly during the coldest months, I wonder if that’s because it doesn’t get the sun until quite late?


On the same side of the house, my brand new passionfruit vine has decided to flower. I think it likes it here.


I planted the vine as a stringy, leggy sapling back in November. I’m getting a bit image-heavy here, but for the sake of record-keeping, here’s the entire vine as it looks now.


Further up on the same side of the house is a bed overgrown with native spinach. If this can escape the frost over winter, that’d be lovely :D


Oh, I finally figured out where my asparagus is going. I’ve planted it with strawberries. We’ll see how that goes.


The bed looks a right mess right now, it’ll look better after the winter. I’ve actually got strawberries scattered all over the garden, but I’m after a bit of control (plus, not having the bed look so empty in the spring before the asparagus comes up and the fact I’ll get a harvest for the first few years appeals). I’ve got a ton of leftover asparagus seedlings, don’t quite know what I’m going to do with them, yet.

Speaking of strawberries, we picked far more last year than we were prepared to eat (you do get sick of anything after a while), so a lot ended up in the freezer. I pulled them all out a couple weeks ago, and made jam. I got 8 pots of jam out of it, but I really don’t think it’s going to last. Hubby will only eat strawberry jam, and the kids aren’t interested in the kiwifruit jam or the lime marmalade I made last year. I really don’t think I’ll bother making other jams, considering I’m not a big jam eater.

And finally, I have to post this pic of some stuff I scrounged up out of the garden a couple weeks back for a stirfry. I’m never making stirfry without lemongrass again. It’s so good. Other than the lemongrass stalks, there’s native spinach, a teeny lone leftover tomato, a few baby kumara I found in the garden when I was planting the garlic, a few of the red onions that refused to go dormant for keeping, a very tiny miniature butternut squash, a couple gnarly-looking carrots, and a handful of parsnip thinnings.


I think my favourite kind of meal these days is the one where I just go out to the garden with my basket and see what I can find <3


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