Autumn/winter food garden guide 🌱
This time of year sees temperatures dropping and rainfall which gives many types of edibles great conditions to grow in. These weather conditions are also excellent for prepping and establishing spring crops also. All this delicious & nutritious food is also a colourful display, which serves as a feast for the eyes & the flowers provide a feast for our pollinators! Win-Win-Win!
Let’s firstly cover some of the edibles you can grow during this season.
Remember to prep your beds with organic nitrogen rich organic matter/fertiliser and water well before planting your garden; And water regularly if rainfall isn’t sufficient as these all will not tolerate dry soil.
Mustard greens, broccoli, kale, Brussel sprouts, rocket, cauliflower, collard greens, nasturtiums, cabbages & turnips just to name a few!
There’s a few varieties of all of these such as purple sprouting broccolis and in the cabbage family you’ll find an array of varieties such as the common globe cabbages & others like bok Choy, wom bok & tatsoi (a beautiful red cabbage)
Nasturtiums are a peppery /lemon flavour which is edible from root to flower and their immature seed pods are often collected and pickled in the same way capers are.
Lettuces belong to the family Asteraceae.
Lactuca sativa is from the daisy family & a member of the Lactuca (lettuce) genus and the Asteraceae (sunflower or aster family). There’s over 20,000 species which include things like chicory, globe artichoke, safflower, Jerusalem artichoke, chicory, safflower, sunflowers .. the list goes on so let’s just look at a few!
These are very easy to grow through autumn to the end of spring. You can grow in stages with these by planting new seeds to grow as you harvest the first crops.
With many varieties here are just a few of the lettuce family.
Iceberg, romaine, coral lettuces , butter lettuce & celtuce (asparagus lettuce) which is grown for its stems which are eaten raw or cooked similarly to asparagus.
With about 175 genera and more than 2,500 species, mostly herbs and subshrubs we will cover a few common finds in an edible garden. These include the previously separate order Chenopodiaceae family of the beets and spinaches.
Amaranthaceae are popularly grown for their spectacular displays of colours and flowers & their seeds/grain ; though are not in the order Graminae. They have a much higher content of minerals such as potassium, zinc, B vitamins , vitamin E , calcium, magnesium, iron and the amino acid lysine. They’re also high in protein . Graminae (grains) are usually low in these . Some amaranth varieties grow to two metres and can produce over 10,000 seeds.
Harvesting leaves from Amaranthus while they’re young and tender (before flowering, though buds and flowers are edible also). Young leaves are perfect fresh in salads , as are leaves from beets & spinach. The more mature leaves are perfect for cooking as you would with spinach as an example.
From the family of over 3,500 species , Lamiaceae are known for their aromatic qualities and balms. We know many of them as spices we would use in the kitchen regularly such as oregano, basil, thyme, sweet marjoram, rosemary, lavender, lemon balm, sage, anise hyssop, and germander.
They bring many benefits not just to your health such as aiding regulation of body functions & being anti microbial but beneficial to our pollinators such as bees, wasps & beetles , whilst their aromas repel pests such as mosquitoes.
Allium is the Latin word for garlic from the genus of Monocotyledoneae which includes hundreds of species of plants such as garlic, chives, onions, shallots & leek.
Plants of this genus produce chemical compounds that are mostly derived from cysteine sulfoxides which gives them a characteristic onion/garlic taste and odour. In most cases, both bulb and leaves are edible.
Snip off stalks or scrapes from scallions (spring onions) and leave the roots to grow continuously year around. You can also snip and eat some stalks from garlic and onions to use in your cooking as you allow them to continue to grow until they are ready to harvest.
Tips & tricks
- Planting broccoli and taller growing plants behind your shorter growth plants such as kale & cabbages etc for easier access when you want to harvest. Give your plants room to grow . 30-40 cm apart is a good average guide giving bigger plants another 10-20 cm such as cabbage.
- Taking the outer leaves from things such as kale and rocket for your food will allow the centre leaves to grow out again & encourages new growth so you’ll take more from your crops.
- Harvest your cabbages & broccoli heads when their heads feel firm and compact by cutting at the base with a sharp knife
I hope you’ve gained some basic knowledge to help you start your winter/autumn garden and see it abundantly flourish !
I’ll be back in a few days with another post outlining what you can plant in time for spring & how to maintain these through to harvest.
Green thumbs up & thanks for reading !