Wally Richards – Autumn gardens

Autumn is a great time for planting out gardens. Besides the planting of vegetables and flowering plants, there is also a wide range of shrubs and trees you can add to your garden.or different parts of the garden, depending on what you are planting.

It is still a bit early for new seasons deciduous fruit, ornamental trees or roses – but orders can be placed at your garden centre now for collection in winter. There are different gardening considerations for different parts of the garden depending on what you’re planting.


The vegetable garden

Silverbeet is one of my favourite winter plants. There are two main types available: the original dark green variety such as ‘Fordhook’; and the newer, coloured silverbeet – called ‘Bright Lights’. The latter has a milder flavour, so if you don’t like the flavour of the dark green variety, you may well like the sweeter taste of the more colourful plants.

When you buy silverbeet to eat, you find that you are generally buying the whole plant (minus the roots), as this is the way the commercial growers harvest the crop. In the home garden there is no need at all to harvest the whole plant – instead just remove the outer leaves and the plant will continue to produce till it goes to seed. Rust or pests should not be a problem through the winter, so no extra work or spraying is necessary. For planting at this time of year, it is best to buy the seedlings, as seed-raising will take longer and delay harvest.

Broad beans can be grown from seed, and if you like these versatile, iron-rich vegetables then go ahead and plant a row. Snowpeas are another good winter seed-grown crop, and are ideal for stir-fried meals. All the brassicas do well during winter and you should have no problems with caterpillars. For those with bigger vegetable gardens, you can also sow seeds or plant seedlings of Chinese cabbage, cress, leeks, winter lettuce, mustard, onions, radish, shallots, spinach and turnips.

If you place Nufert under the plants or with the seeds before you cover them, you will speed up the growth of the plants noticeably. Later, feed with sheep manure pellets by side-dressing the plants. If you want to add selenium to your food crops then sprinkle some Micron after planting.

The flower garden
In the flower garden, you once again have a great range of plants to chose from for winter colour. The following planting suggestions would suit cold climate areas and will grow even better in the warmer areas. Plants or seedlings are once again a better option, as seeds take several weeks to reach the sturdy plant stage.

Primula and polyanthus are excellent choices for winter colour, and make great bedding and container plants. Cineraria do very well in winter as long as they are in frost-protected areas. The dwarf forms make wonderful container plants in a 6 to 8 inch pot. Cyclamen also do very well in containers or protected garden places such as under trees. Both cyclamen and cineraria can be grown indoors as flowering pot plants, but for best results, ensure they are near windows for plenty of light, and have a cool environment.

Other flowers to plant would include, bellis, calendula, candyturf, Canterbury bells, carnations, cornflower, delphinium, dianthus, everlasting daisy, forget-me-nots, godertia, lobelia, nemsia, pansy, viola, snapdragons, sweet peas, stock and wall flowers. It will depend on what plants are currently available in your garden centre but you will surely have a lot of choice. To encourage healthy and colourful plants, place dried blood under the seedlings at planting time, and side dress with the same every month or so.

Shrubs and trees
Shrubs, trees and fruit trees tend to be personal choices, so it is not worth listing the types that can be planted. Whatever variety you choose however, autumn is a great time to plant. There is no stress from heat and the soil has adequate moisture, so extra watering is kept to a minimum. The plants have all of winter and spring to establish, which means that they should be doing well before they have to face a summer. This reduces the possibility of losses or damage.

It is important to choose plants that will suit the conditions – which means the type of soil and the wet or dry conditions they will have to face during a gardening year. Also consider the size and shape of the mature plant that you desire to avoid a lot of future trimming.

The chosen plants should fit the way you want your gardens to ultimately look like. If planting up new gardens or sections, don’t be tempted to plant the shrubs and trees too close together. Just because they are small when you plant them, remember that they grow and their mature size needs to be catered for. Planting shrubs and trees close together may look better for the first couple of years, but will need constant trimming or removal of maybe half the plants in the future. Information on the label will give the approximate end height and spread which gives you a good idea how far to space the plants. Mind you, I have yet to know of a plant that follows its label exactly, and the end result may differ depending on factors such as growing conditions.

When you plant your trees and shrubs at the right spacing apart, the areas in-between can sometimes look sparse as trees or shrubs mature. You can obtain some perennials or ground covers to fill in the spaces. These can either be removed in the future if need be or they will acclimatise to the situation and survive. Also perennials can be easily be lifted and transplanted to more suitable situations in the future.

What should you put under trees and shrubs when you plant them? It mainly depends on soil type – whether its clay or sandy. Both types mean you should dig a hole about twice the depth and width needed and use peat moss or compost mixed with the removed soil (about half and half) to line the base of the hole and back fill. This gives a good area for initial root formation. I like to place a couple of hand fulls of Gypsum in the planting hole in heavy soils to aid root penetration, and for plant food just use sheep manure pellets in the base of the hole.

It is better not to stake the plant unless it is a very exposed, windy situation and then only stake for a few months while the plant establishes its roots then remove. When plants are left staked too long, it weakens the plant and can lead to losses in the future. Once the roots have a reasonable grip into the earth the movement of the plant in the wind builds up its strength in the trunk allowing it to withstand high winds in the future.

Happy Planting! Any problems ring me at 0800 466464.  Garden Pages and News at

2 comments on “Wally Richards – Autumn gardens

  1. Lorna Baxter on said:

    Good sound advice. Thank you.

  2. michele dunlop on said:

    do i trim the chia plant. Mine is getting leggy and i am tempted but do not want to kill it. thanks

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