“Autumn is for planting'' was a theme taken up by the nursery industry to guide gardeners towards more successful plantings compared to those in spring and summer. It truly is the ideal time to plant almost anything (but tropical plants) now in WA, with milder temperatures and warm, moist soils making plants leap into growth and flower. When winter rains come, new plants are assured of adequate moisture for solid root establishment right through to spring. As summer returns over the horizon, new plants have had 6-7 months to establish before temperatures begin to get uncomfortable, by which time, the odds of survival are in their favour.
So perfect planting conditions, but what to plant? Bring on the Perth Garden Festival, designed to inspire and deliver new release varieties and garden favourites from the best nurseries in WA. Something for everyone, all in one place, happy days!
First things first, all gardeners in WA should be aware of our need for serious soil improvement. Our natural infertile sandy soils lack minerals, humus, soil life and moisture reserves and are notoriously hydrophobic (water repellent).
The solution is the addition of clay, silts and quality compost – to build the soil texture towards one that resembles a fertile loam. Baileys have developed a product, aptly named - Soil Matters® Clay & Compost, for this very purpose. Each bag contains 10kg of Soil Solver mineralised clay, fully composted chicken manure, soil conditioner and wetting agent. Mix very well with existing soil, water in and get planting. Your plants will thank you for it.
Veggie gardening makes economic sense through autumn and winter as rain provides free water. Now’s the time to clean up the patch and prepare for cool season crops.
- These include the onion tribe (onions, chives, garlic, leeks and garlic chives) as well as the superfood, cancer fighting cabbage family - broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, Chinese cabbage and kohl rabi. For something different, don't look past oriental varieties such as pak choi, mibuna, mizuna and wong bok. Also, lettuce, silver beet, Swiss chard, English spinach, peas, broad beans, turnip, Swede, carrots, Florence fennel, endive, kohlrabi, beetroot and potatoes.
- Plant individual cloves of garlic about 5cm deep, pointy end up, in a sunny spot. Takes 6-8 months or more to mature.
- Introduce local flavour to your kitchen garden by growing native bush tucker. These guys are naturally adapted to our climate. Try Lemon Myrtle, Davidson Plum and Mountain Pepperberry.
- The perfect time to plant Figs is autumn and winter, buy bare-rooted stock or in pots now.
- Get citrus trees started while soil is warm and rain is imminent. The choice of different varieties is great this time of year. Pick a sunny spot in the garden or pot into Baileys Premium Potting Mix and move as required.
- Get a worm farm going. It’s an ideal time with cooler conditions. This is a terrific project for involving kids and to help recycle kitchen waste.
Perth garden festival is the perfect place to get advice on ornamental trees, shrubs, grasses, ground covers, natives and colour for garden beds and pots. Bring a photo with you to ID and order.
- Time to plant spring flowering bulbs such as tulips for a miraculous flower show. One idea is to over plant these with pansy, viola or alyssum to give you colour in winter before the bulbs show their heads.
- Sow poppy, Forget Me Not, calendula, lobelia and delphinium seeds. Sow everlasting seed by the handful after first rains for a blast of spring colour.
- Autumn is a great time to feed the whole garden as soils will be depleted after warm season growth. Old staples like Blood & Bone can be spread around or try a new age biological product like Baileys Soil Matters® Garden. This product is based on blood & bone, but has the full suite of macro and micro nutrients incorporated, along with humates and a microbial coating to boost those vital soil populations.
It’s a great time to lay a new lawn and revitalise established ones after a hot summer. A healthy lawn heading into winter will help hold out weeds and make for a quick spring recovery.
- Autumn fertilising is the most important of the year, encouraging prolonged growth, thick coverage and extended colour heading into winter. Apply a granular feed of Baileys 3.1.1. Plus, in early May. This also contains the wetting agent Grosorb® to make the most of coming rain.
- When the soil temperature drops in winter, it’s time to move to foliar applications to maintain colour and health. Using liquid fertilisers in winter will not only give you better results, it’s also better for the environment, reducing leaching. Try Baileys new Turfect® Invigorate and spot the difference.