Summer ends and Autumn begins '24

Summer ends and Autumn begins '24

Well, that was a great Summer! Just the right amount of rain so we didn't run out of water, hot enough for the tomatoes to ripen fast, and just the right amount of breeze for good airflow around the plants. And, quick as a flash the leaves are falling off the trees and turning crispy. We crunch through them in our boots and feed them in fist-fulls to the goats who adore them and sound like they're eating kettle fries.

The temperatures are dropping and the tomatoes and zucchini are ripening so slowly that it's not worth keeping them in the beds anymore. It's time to take them out and start seeding the winter crops. We cut the plants just below the soil surface, leaving the roots where they've grown in the beds and into the paths. The roots will become part of the soil, helping to transport water and nutrients to future plants. We won't loose soil like we would if we pulled the whole plant out, we won't disturb the worms and the infrastructure they've made and we won't encourage any weed seeds from below to germinate. The beds will be topped up with 2cm or so of compost before seed or seedlings go in.

We reflect on what we did well as gardeners and what we should improve for next Summer. As every season goes by we get better and better. Obviously next time we need to tie up the tomatoes better. We could sow the first beans two weeks earlier next Spring. We make notes in our book about what crop we had in each bed and how it did. This info helps with crop rotation. We write down varieties, and how many plants we planted ... was that enough?. We'll be thankful of the information next Spring.

Our rock-star of Summer, heat-loving Basil, is coming to an end. Customers will miss it, we will miss it too, we wizz up a big batch to pesto to freeze into portions so we can taste a bit of Summer in the Winter.

And now we look forward ... what will be seeded for the winter? We'll direct seed into the no-dig beds Miner's lettuce, Rocket and baby Chard. We might slip in a couple of beds of Snow Peas. Into seed trays go Brightlights Silverbeet, Curly Kale and Pak Choi, to be transplanted into the no-dig beds when they're big enough. In the hydroponics, we've started seeding Watercress and COS. Other crops of lettuce, dill, coriander, mint, edible flowers - just carry on. They'll have their ups and downs (which will mean a gap for customers of a couple of weeks here and there) but we grow them year-round.

Summer is a huge season for us and we're tired. Summer in-ground crops need to be picked every day - it's relentless. It feels wonderful as the Summer crops finish, for our work to slow down, and for us to find our feet again. We're going to take the market off during the month of April. April's a slow month at the market, our in-ground crops won't be ready to pick yet and lettuce growth slows down as they adjust to the temperature drop and less daylight hours. We'll keep our stockists stocked up while we're having a break. We hate disappointing our market customers but we've learned that if we don't take time off during April, we don't get a holiday at all.

Cheers to a good Summer, but we're ready for Autumn!