Top 5: Things to plant in Autumn

The title of this post should probably read – Things to plant in Melbourne in Autumn, as all are well suited to a Melbourne winter.   Having said that though, all these crops are frost tolerant and will grow in a broad range of climates provided they get a bit of cold, but not too too much.  There are other crops I wouldn’t be without in winter; chard, parsley, beetroot, celery and mint spring immediately to mind but all these I planted long ago – during either Spring or Summer.  The ones in this list are those that I wait until Autumn to plant, partially because I’m waiting for space but mostly because between now and June is the best time to be planting them.

1. Garlic – This is my absolute must plant crop.  In Australia buying garlic often means buying a heavily sprayed, relatively flavourless product, laden with food miles.  Most of our imported garlic comes from China but at some times of the year it travels even further – from Mexico or Spain.  As a result I try and grow as much of my own garlic as possible.  Aside from flavour and environmental reasons the other big big advantage of growing your own garlic is that you can harvest a portion of it green.   Green garlic is one of the big delights for the home gardener.  Garden To Wok has some lovely green garlic in her Harvest post this week, equally you’ll find an enjoyable spring dish of broad beans with green garlic under the broad beans tag on this blog.

     

I planted my garlic last weekend, I planted on a 15cm grid and sowed just over 100 cloves of both hard and soft necked varieties.  Very excited to see how they all do.

2. Broad Beans – Broad (or Fava) Beans are one of those crops beloved of the kitchen gardener.  They are good for the soil – they fix nitrogen (although I suspect they would fix a lot more of it if I dug them before they used most of it up by producing flowers and seed pods).  They also produce delicious beans, which are hard to find if you don’t grow your own.  A truly seasonal food you can really only get fresh broad beans for a short time each year.  During this time I do sometimes become heartily sick of them but by the next year I will be longing to eat them once again.  I sow my broad beans direct in May (when I usually have a bit of space in my beds) which means they crop in late Spring.  If you sow at the start of Autumn they should crop much earlier in Spring.

    

3. Broccoli – So much has been written about the health benefits of broccoli that I wont bother rehashing it here.  Suffice to say broccoli is good for you, tastes great, and it is also a great kitchen garden plant.  I grow a lot of brassicas in winter: cauliflower, cabbages, mustard, radishes, romanesco and so on, but it is broccoli that I chose to feature here.  This is largely because as a kitchen garden plant it is more convenient than the things like cauliflower, romanesco and cabbages which only crop once.  Broccoli keeps on giving side shoots for weeks/months after you have harvested the main head.  A hugely desirable quality in a garden where space is at a premium.  Although you can theoretically grow broccoli all year round in Melbourne (I do find it bolts way too quickly in hot weather though) I find that by planting it out as seedlings in Autumn (it is a bit late to be sowing seed at this point) you tend to avoid the most annoying broccoli pests becoming too much of an issue.  Cabbage White Butterflies tend to be less active at this time of the year, and to my mind more importantly, the flower heads are less likely to become infested with aphids if you are harvesting in winter.

   

4. Peas – I didn’t grow any peas last year, a tragic tale of procrastination and then crop decimation at the hands of slugs and snails.  This meant that the supports that were to hold up peas ended up supporting an early planted tomato instead.  As a result I have no pea photos.  What I did learn from this experience though is that I really missed having fresh peas growing in the garden.  Whether you grow normal peas, sugar snap, or snow peas Autumn is the time to plant.  I planted some Greenfest peas today in fact, using some wrought iron fencing I got from a friend as supports.  I hope they do well.  At least this year I’ve sown them early enough that if I have any problems I still have time to sow again.

5. Onions/Shallots – I have grouped these together – naughty aren’t I?   Last year I grew onions for the first time, and despite my frustrations with how damn long they take I was really really surprised how nice the home grown ones tasted.  Now I don’t have nearly enough room to plant onions for storage but growing a few lovely red ones for using in salads I think is really worthwhile.  I loved both the flavour and fresh texture of the ones I grew last year (variety: Red Shine) – really nice.  Shallots too are great to grow.  It is fascinating to watch them divide and divide and divide.  The ones I planted out last year produced about 30 bulbs each which is a great return on the relatively small amount of space they take up.  Between now and July is probably the best time to plant onions and shallots in Melbourne.  I have yet to sow either – a project for the next few weeks.  I plan to sow onion seed direct when space becomes available but the shallots I will start in pots and then position in any gaps that open up in the beds.

 

If you are looking for another Top 5 take the time to wander over to The New Good Life to see what she has come up with this week.

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38 Responses to Top 5: Things to plant in Autumn

  1. L says:

    Good list. I feel motivated to get off my bottom and plant more stuff tomorrow. I have the garlic sitting there, ready to be planted. Same with the sugar snap peas and the onions. I’m not sure I feel motivated to plant broad beans this year, but I do have a bit of empty bed space, so maybe I should.

    • Liz says:

      I reckon plant them, they’re pretty trouble free and otherwise you’ll have some empty bed sitting there looking at you accusingly.

  2. I bought broad beans for fall planting. This will be my first year to try them. I have never eaten them, since they are not readily available for food in Southern US and I didn’t try them when I was in the traveling phase of my life.

    I REALLY wish I could have found red-flowered fava beans, but the only ones I could find were over $14 because they would have been shipped from UK. Oh well. I’ll use the ones I got. I am looking forward to tasting them.

    Great list.

    • Liz says:

      My dad grew the red flowered ones a couple of years ago but the yield wasn’t anywhere near as good as from the white flowered ones. They also cropped a bit later. He hasn’t grown them since, but they did look pretty.

  3. Daphne says:

    I wish I could plant all of those in the fall. I do plant garlic though. It is hardy enough for us.

  4. Nina says:

    That’s my list for this season, almost exactly! I’ve planted out about 80 garlic so far and have about the same to go, when I have time to plant them. I got mine from New Gippsland Seed & Bulbs (was it you that recommended them?). I’ve planted others in previous years (sourced via the local Home Hardware) but they weren’t nearly enough so I thought I’d go bulk. You can never have too much garlic.

    Having grown broad beans for the last couple of years, I don’t think I could not. I’ve got a ‘Birdies’ raised bed set aside this year, just for them.

    I had one feeble attempt at growing onions a couple of years back but this year I intend getting serious. Ditto with the shallots.

    For some reason, broccoli hasn’t done too well for me but I’ve had better success with broccolini – time to give it another go, I reckon.

    I’ve only attempted snow peas but I might give ‘normal’ peas a go. Time is the enemy, I work full-time but long to cut down my hours so I can play in the vegie patch more often. ‘Retirement’ is just a few years off so my wish will come true, eventually. 🙂

    • Liz says:

      I hope the garlic grows well for you. I woudl lvoe to ‘get serious’ about growing onions but it would mean digging up the lawn and thus far the signicant other is unconvinced – to be fair he’s probably right as the kids do need somewhere to practice juggling (that was yesterday’s mission – highly unsuccessful but very funny).

  5. Kirsty says:

    Great list, silverbeet, celery and coriander all do well this time of year too. Garlic is my favourite crop, love that it keeps so well. I’ve used the supermarket dried broad bean packs and they work really well. I’ve let so many self seed that they pop up all over the place, such tough plants, they resprout and don’t mind being moved either.

    • Liz says:

      I planted my silverbeet and celery a while ago and you’re right they are both cropping well. My coriander is still looking very sad – I sowed some more seed but I tend to struggle from seed so I think its time to buy another punnet. It is such a temperamental crop – well for me it is anyway.

  6. my parents plant the same veggies every year. I wont even try it in goa, unless I find a way to get rid of those aggressive ants here.

    Just realised its autumn in australia. lol

    • Liz says:

      I’d never thought about ants being a huge problem before – I”ll add it to my list of gardening annoyances.

  7. Our peas failed too but due to lack of rain!

  8. Mark Willis says:

    Liz, do you get good results from Shallots grown in pots? I don’t usually grow Shallots at all, and this time I have got most of them in one of my raised beds, but I have also put a few “spares” into pots to see how they compare.

    • Liz says:

      I haven’t grown them to maturity in pots before. I usually start them in pots and then plant them out when space becaomes available. As they don’t need heaps of room I just fill gaps with them. They would need a pretty wide pot as they need the space to spread but otherwise I don’t see why they wouldn’t do OK. I’ll be very interested in your experiment.

  9. Diana says:

    I like growing allium in the cool season because they don’t have any enemies except my neighbour cats like to do things around them when they are tiny seedlings. I was surprised to find a few volunteer garlic sprouting from neglected containers while I was arranging my container garden on last Easter weekend. If your container growing shallots are big try sowing some carrot seeds together. We will not grow the main allium family this year like garlic, leek and onion as we probably moving end of the year.

    • Liz says:

      I like the idea of intersowing the shallots with carrots – excellent plan. I have a few volunteer garlic sprouting too – I think I will eat them green – yum!

  10. Veggiegobbler says:

    Yes I love broccoli and broad beans. And I’m giving the garlic a go again even though I’ve had a couple of years of failures. Now I’ve never tried to grow onions or shallots. I can’t remember what or where I read something about them not being worth the effort. Maybe I will give them a try next year. Oh and yes, I am extending my pea growing this year too.

    • Liz says:

      I have to say I’ve been converted to growing onions by the flavour and texture – really good. I don’t have room for many though. Shallots I just think are fun to grow. I really hope you get some decent garlic this year. I think last year was difficult due to the amount of rain we had so hopefully this year it will be easier (although I don’t want too little rain either….)

  11. Andrea says:

    Like your list Liz, shall be planting some of the above soon (have already got my onions in.). This year I’m going to try the red flowering broad beans just for the color!

  12. Ian says:

    That sounds like part of my list – I grow them all. Had trouble last year with the broad beans – kept flowering but did not set beans until September. Will try again as I do love young broad beans. As for garlic & onions, home grown is sooooo much better. Still living off last years garlic – am planting both early and late varieties to try to make sure they last most of the year.

    I also am putting in cavolo nero, brussels sprouts, cabbage and cauilflowers – but different varities to what you find in stores.

    It is a busy time of the year changing from summer crops to winter.

    • Liz says:

      That’s interesting about the broad beans – a pollination issue perhaps? I hope they grow better for you this year, I’m not sure that I’ve ever managed to have pods much before September either. I like the idea of staggering the garlic harvest – which varieties are you growing to achieve this?

      • Ian says:

        Have just planted Garlic Southern Glen and Garlic Early White from Diggers. Supposed to be ready for harvest around October which will be a full two months earlier than the others I kept from last year’s crop (Dynamite Purple, Australian White, Cream and Oriental Purple) that will be going in late May / early June which I harvested around Jan 1st last time. Will it work? Have to wait and see….

        • Liz says:

          I will be really interested to see, garlic in October would be fabulous. This is the first year that I am growing a few different varieties – I usually just grow Italian ‘common’ but this year I’m growing that and a few others (mostly unidentifiable as they were gifted seed). I’ll be interested to see what if any size and taste variations there are.

  13. Check, check, check, check, and almost check (haven’t planted the broad beans yet, will wait another couple of weeks like you). Actually I still have onions to plant out and more seeds to sow and I have some more broccoli seedlings to plant when I figure out where.

    I too bought my garlic from New Gippsland because you (and a few others) mentioned them. Perhaps you should ask for a commission.

  14. Julie says:

    How long do your fall planted onions take? I planted mine back in September (fall in this part of the world) and just wondering how long I’ll be waiting. This is my first time growing onions! I also planted garlic for the first time in the fall, but now I feel like a garlic slacker.. I think I only planted ~30 cloves.

    • Liz says:

      I usually harvest onions in January from a May planting. Yours were planted earlier but it may not make them much earlier in terms of harvesting as they respond to day length and need the long summer days to develop bulbs. I’d be hoping they would be ready in late May/June but you may have to wait a little longer. 30 is still a great number to start with.

  15. Wendy says:

    Shallots are so fantastic with practically everything, I really would like to try them this year. Great top 5!

  16. Louise says:

    I loved growing shallots when I was in England – the dividing bit is fun isnt it. I grew the red ‘Asian’ ones then and the brown ones. But havent grown them in Australia as have never seen seed bulbs. Where do you get yours? (Some things were just more readily available in England)

    • Liz says:

      I get mine from dad or I plant some from the previous year. I do know that both Greenharvest and New Gippsland have them available to order on line though. I noticed when I ordered garlic.

  17. Tan says:

    Hi, I normally buy cheap chinese garlic and plant that. For around 3 dollars I get all the garlic I want to plant.Is this a good idea

    • Liz says:

      I think it depends how you look at it. My concern would be the possible introduction of disease into your plot, there are a number of resources that specifically warn against it for this reason. Also some of the imported garlic I have bought in the past has been pretty tasteless and it may be a variety thing. If you are going to risk getting diseases into the soil I would definitely taste it first. The other thing to consider is whether that particular variety is suited to your climate. Some varieties need much cooler conditions to be grown successfully than others.

      • Tan says:

        Thank you Liz, I hadn’t thought of that. Ooppps. I figured that if they were cleared for selling in Australia then they had to be safe from a disease point of view. As for the taste I figured that if it got grown in our clean soil with clean water than I’d end up with tasty garlic. You can see I am not a true gardener!! Really trying though, this year we actually set up a bit of a garden and our tomatoes are doing really well, especially the cherry tomatoes, the chillies and cucumbers are also doing well , looking forward to next year when I can improve on this year. As for the garlic I will keep your advice in mind for next time.

        • Liz says:

          You could well be right about the taste – I haven’t tried so I can’t really say. As for not being a real gardener – do you grow things? do you put seed or seedlings in soil? if yes then you are a gardener – learning all the time like the rest of us, but still a gardener. Glad your tomatoes. chillies and cucumbers are doing well. Like you I’m always looking forward to next year when I can get things that little bit better, fun isn’t it?

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