How to keep your autumn vegetable garden healthy and pest free
April 12, 2016
Autumn is the time of year that the pests start to emerge from all corners of the garden to munch on your newly planted seedlings. It can be a tricky time of year in the garden because depending on your location it may remain warm through most of autumn. After the summer bounty of produce stops many people are keen to plant for winter.
I caution you to not do this too early.
Winter plants will not thrive if the weather is too warm, the plants will become stressed and stressed plants become the primary target of pests.
Autumn is a season to be enjoyed in it’s own right. Don’t over-look autumn plants such as coriander, fennel, peas, rocket and spinach as well as garlic. These plants all love the mild days and cool mornings and nights of autumn. They are reasonably fast growing and well worth adding to your kitchen garden before you embark on planting the very slow growing winter plants. I personally find the transition from the abundance of summer to the barely productive winter months to be almost painful! I love enjoying the autumn plants before the garden slows to what seems like a stand still pace.
I have seen many instances of autumn being overlooked (and have been guilty of it) as gardeners move from tomatoes, capsicum, eggplant and zucchini that have continued well into autumn straight to winter plants.
My tips for keeping your plants stress free, healthy and pest free during autumn are:
Snails and slugs are one of the greatest pests I encounter in our vegetable garden. Dense growth of established plants such as sage, oregano, lemongrass and mint and lots of pots provide them with a place to shelter and breed.
A routine that works in my vegetable garden to reduce the number of snails and slugs is:
I find the steps above are effective in my garden during autumn. In winter last year I also added the skins of oranges face-up to the soil in the late afternoon to attract the slugs for disposal in the morning.
Note: this only works well if you put out the skins at dusk and collect them very early in the morning. If not, the snails and slugs come and enjoy the sweet orange and then return to their safe hiding spot until the return to your plants the next day.
Snails found in our garden are disposed of. It is up to you as to how you approach this. You wish to re-locate them to another non-productive area of the garden or destroy them.
Other ways I have not tried but are commonly said to repel snails include:
Following these tips will ensure you experience a bounty of fresh food from your autumn garden.
*Soil test kits are available for a low cost at your local nursery or hardware store. Further reading on soil can be found via Steve Solomon’s book – The Intelligent Gardener.
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