Autumn is the time to plant cool season flowering favourites such as pansies and violas.
Autumn is the time to plant cool season flowering favourites such as pansies and violas. Getty Images

Awesomeness of autumn

Easter is a celebration of rebirth and renewal. All through the ages, people have celebrated the equinoxes and the solstices as sacred times. Early Christian feast days were attached to old pagan festivals, and so spring festivals with the theme of new life became connected to the Christian celebration of Christ's resurrection after the crucifixion.

Here in the Southern Hemisphere, Easter falls in autumn, not spring. But I think I speak for many warm-climate gardeners when I say that autumn is perhaps, for us, even more important than spring as a time for garden renewal and rejuvenation.

After the ravages of summer, our gardens are in desperate need of some TLC. Most of us have enjoyed some much-needed rain, and temperatures are beginning to move in a more comfortable direction. Gardeners, and the gardens we tend, are starting to feel a bit more positive.

Autumn is a really important, and immensely rewarding, time in the gardening calendar. It's the best time to establish new gardens, and an ideal time to plant trees, including fruit trees. Thanks to the milder temperatures, and more reliable rain, everything we plant now will have plenty of time to settle in before the heat arrives again.

It's also time to plant cool season flowering favourites such as pansies and violas, as well as winter crops including broccoli, broad beans, spinach, peas, snow peas and kale.

Your whole garden and lawn will benefit from a complete plant food. You can also top up the mulch in garden beds to help to regulate soil temperature.

We should see the populations of grasshoppers dwindle, and most other pests too will be a bit less active. Of course, the white cabbage moth will be waiting, so you will need to be vigilant and protect the plants their caterpillars love to eat including broccoli, cabbage, kale, silverbeet, and Asian greens. You can use fine insect netting to keep them off your plants, or you can use one of the food-safe insecticides such as Dipel. You can also just pick the caterpillars off as you see them. And try some companion planting - white alyssum can act as a deterrent, and looks very decorative too. Bush beans, celery, onions, spinach, marigold, nasturtium and strongly scented herbs such as peppermint and oregano are also good companions for brassicas.

Some herbs and vegetables are really difficult to grow in summer, and are best planted now. I have much better results from coriander, dill, and hearting varieties of lettuce like Cos and Iceberg when I grow them during the cooler months.

So, if you live in a warm climate and you want to make some major changes or improvements to your garden, don't wait until spring. Do it now!



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