As the season turns to autumn and we look back on a (hopefully) successful summer of growing, it's time to start thinking about saying goodbye to summer crops and starting to sow your winter harvest. There's a whole range of leafy greens, brassicas, alliums, root vegetables and flowers that can be sown in autumn, so get planting!
There are plenty of leafy greens and herbs that grow well in the mild ‘shoulder season’ of autumn. Avoiding the extreme heat of summer means they're less likely to bolt, and the cooler temperatures result in juicy, tender leaves. As well as lettuce and spinach, less common leafy greens such as endive, cress and mizuna can all be planted now.
Many brassicas can be sown now so plants can get established in warmer weather and develop a crisp, fresh flavour in the cooler months. If summer veg is still producing well in your garden, raise seeds in trays. You’ll then have well-sized seedlings ready to plant out once there’s space.
[ Pest alert! Brassicas can be decimated by cabbage moth and cabbage white butterfly. Both pests lay their eggs on the underside of leaves, with the voracious caterpillars chomping through leaves at a rapid rate, sometimes skeletonising even mature leaves. Learn how to manage them here. ]
Leeks, onions and garlic are frost hardy and can all be planted through autumn. Root crops including beetroot, carrot and turnip can also be planted now for a harvest through winter and into spring. For all these crops, dig over soil before planting and make sure your drainage is excellent.
Tip: Try interplanting alliums with carrots. Both crops have similar growing requirements, and the aroma of the allium leaves is said to deter carrot whitefly.
March is also a good time to sow biennial flowers such as Canterbury bells, hollyhocks, forget me not, sweet william and stock. Biennials are plants that complete their life cycle over two years. They establish roots and leaves in their first year before blooming in their second. The idea of planting in autumn is to grow plants to a good size now so they will produce flowers in early spring.
Seeds to Sow in March
Click the links below for a larger list of seeds that can be sown now in each climate.
▩ Cold Climate: Tasmania, Melbourne, Mt Gambier, Canberra, etc.
▩ Moderate Climate: Sydney, Perth, Adelaide, etc.
▩ Warm Climate: Brisbane, Bundaberg, Carnarvon, etc.
▩ Tropical Climate: Broome, Darwin, Cairns, Townsville, etc.
▩ Not sure which climate? Click here.