The rains have come at last to the Adelaide Plains, and the soil is ready for the autumn plantings. Our mild winters allow us to grow a whole new set of vegetables over autumn and winter, and now’s the time to be planting stuff out.
One small step is required in-between – to first clear out all the pests such as earwigs and slater beetles that have bred up under the summer mulch. This is as easy as turning your chicken flock into these beds, where they will scratch through the mulch in search of delicious and nutritious proteins, turning bugs into eggs and preventing your autumn seedlings from being nibbled off at night-time before they can get started. By the time the hens have finished a bed, the old straw mulch has been broken down somewhat (and scattered about) and the pests are gone. The surface of the soil has also been opened up, and the first rains are more easily absorbed. (If you don’t have chooks, rake off the old mulch and cultivate the surface by hand to attain the same end.)
If you haven’t been raising seeds for this moment – and it’s hard to do that while the summer heat lasts – then a good place to kick off the autumn plantings is a visit to the Adelaide Showground Farmers Market.
The place to go for seedlings – especially organic seedlings – is over to the Bickleigh Farms stand, where Diana and Jen have everything a kitchen gardener could need in the way of vegetable seedlings. Diana (on the left below) is also running the ‘Seeds for Health’ course on kitchen gardening at the Fern Avenue Community Garden on Wednesdays between 10am and 12pm for six weeks over autumn, beginning on the 21st April 2010. Book at the Cancer Care Centre on 8272 2411.
If its seeds you want, there’s always poor old Geoff – as you can see, even shoes are beyond his means!
There’s lots of food stalls – both inside and out, organic and not – so take your cash and a few shopping bags.
And finally, back home with lots of kale, leek, broccoli, kohl rabi, lettuces, and Asian vegetable seedlings, plus a few bags of Italian Purple Garlic for planting out now in time for a Christmas harvest. Because the seedlings are in ‘peat pots’, they can be sown directly into the ground – the roots just come on through the pot wall. This planting out is a quick operation, provided the chooks have done they’re work well!