We are well and truly into autumn – despite the warm weather – although I’m sure winter will come with a rush and take us all by surprise! If you live in the lower states away from the coast, you may have experienced the first frosts. The autumn colours are all around us and in most cases, trees are starting to lose their leaves. It is still a great time to enjoy your garden – the weeds don’t grow so fast and that’s got to be good! Sitting on that garden bench all rugged up with a glass of red wine (tea or coffee could suffice), watching the autumn leaves gently flutter to the ground is a very pleasant experience . The first bulbs are just starting to push through the soil – it won’t be long now before we see the first signs of colour.
FERTILSER: Not much to do here now with winter on its way for the most part however liquid fertiliser should be applied to bulbs as they start to break through the surface of the garden beds. If you have planted winter annuals, liquid fertiliser applied regularly will make all the difference.
ANNUALS: It’s also time to plant annuals like Poppies, Pansies, Calendula, Forget-me-nots and Cinerarias – just to name a few. Watch out for those snails and slugs – they sneak up and can do a lot of damage especially at night.
LAWNS: There isn’t much to do to the lawn during this time of year however, for those shady lowlight spots where the moss grows in winter, treat the lawn with Dolomite (a small handful per square metre). This will help prevent moss growing and helps reduce soil acidy.
BULBS: It’s probably not too late but you’ll need to move very quickly to get them in to the ground.
TREES AND SHRUBS: When deciduous trees and shrubs lose all their leaves it’s time to prune and shape them. Flowering vines like Wisteria need to be cut back – in some cases quite hard to restore their shape. The flowers develop on new growth so you’ll be doing the plants a favour and you’ll be rewarded by a brilliant flower display in spring.
CITRUS: Oranges, Mandarins and Grapefruit will be colouring up now and it’s not too late to thin the fruit out – especially Grapefruit. If you don’t, in some cases the over loaded branches may break. Keep the watering up but don’t overdo it.
IN THE VEGETABLE PATCH: Those Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Beans, Peas, Cauliflower, and Cabbage should be starting to move, but it’s still not too late to plant them if you haven’t already done so. Don’t forget those Chinese leafy vegetables – they do well in the cooler months and are quite a quick crop.
IN THE HERB GARDEN: It’s time to plant Garlic. It’s an easy crop to grow but you’ll need to purchase the bulbs from your local nursery to get a good result – imported Garlic sold at the grocer has been chemically treated and you are unlikely to get good results.
DESCRIPTION: Garlic is a perennial bulbous plant. It forms a compound bulb made up of many individual cloves or small bulbs. Each one of these is capable of growing into a new plant and producing another compound bulb. The flattened, linear leaves are also tasty, but harvesting the leaves will result in smaller clusters of bulbs being produced. Some varieties produce flower stems with clusters of pale pink flowers surrounded by papery bracts. These may produce bulbs which can be planted out. It will take two years to form full compound bulbs.
ORIGIN: Siberia. (There is some argument over this. The plant was used in The Mediterranean as far back as Ancient Egyptian times).
CULTIVATION: Garlic is grown as a winter crop in Australia. Prepare beds by digging them over and adding compost. Good drainage is important so plant into raised beds if the soil is heavy clay. Individual cloves of garlic are planted just below the soil surface from late autumn through to the beginning of spring. The strappy leaves grow throughout the summer months and brown off late summer / early autumn. The clustered bulbs are then dug up with a fork and hung up to dry in an airy place.
USES: Garlic is a favourite flavouring used in Mediterranean cuisine but is also widely used in Asian cooking. In Korea for example, it is the major ingredient in the favourite national dishKimch’i. In Australia it is used widely in pasta, pizza, snack foods and many Asian and Mediterranean dishes. Apart from its wonderful flavour, many people strongly believe that consuming garlic is a useful disease preventative and recent medical research appears to support this. In the garden, Garlic is often used as a companion plant to mask the smell of plants that pests such as aphids find attractive. A border of garlic makes an effective edging to a rose garden.