Sunday, March 13, 2011

What to sow in Autumn

image When most people are lamenting the end of the summer growing season, my mouth is watering with the coming delights of the Asian greens in a multitude of quick, simple, delicious winter meals.

 

 

 

image If you love fresh ginger, limes, Vietnamese mint, sesame oil, black bean sauce, oyster sauce and/or mirin then now is the time to sow every Asian green you can find seeds for. They need a rich soil, ample water, will happily grow in moderate shade (some will grow so fast even in full shade that it is scary to think what would happen if they were in the sun!), and can be ready to start picking in a few weeks.

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Ching chiang pai tsai and mizuna
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Mustard greens and others

In Tasmania, I am sowing some of them where I will be covering them with a cloche, not covered in yukky plastic, but with a fine, white curtain, like people use to stop you seeing through their windows but which lets the light through.... I am hopeless at fabric names! You can find them at op. shops very cheap. I bought piles of them for $4 and I also use them to keep off the cabbage moths in summer. Asian greens do not need protection from frost but they do grow a bit faster that way. Even the celery I have had under that fabric during this cold summer, which happen to be next to red cabbages I was protecting from moths, has grown twice as fast as the celery not covered.

image If you have fresh parsnip seed, sow it now too.... today! I have had one disaster after another with my broccoli seedlings but I am determined to get some going, even if it is getting a bit late here. Kale is popping up everywhere in my self-sowing garden so, if you just love the sight of the strong, dark, knobbly Cavolo Nero leaves dusted with frost (as in this photo) on those clear, freezing cold Tasmanian winter mornings, then sow it like mad now, along with the dainty but equally hardy Red Russian kale and any others you come across. I am digging up some of my seedlings to sell. Kale leaves are delicious boiled, tossed with pepper and garlic, then topped with smoked salmon or very good bacon, and a poached egg, for breakfast.  Great before I go off to help at the community garden and keeps me going all morning.

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Lettuce is wonderful to sow now and, surprisingly, it loves the frost, as this photo of red coral lettuce in my garden last winter, shows. Keep sowing every 2 weeks for a continuous supply of leaves through winter. Under the cloth cloche they grow faster but it is not necessary.

 

There is nothing nicer for lunch by the fire in winter than thick, hot soup, a piece of aromatic, home made rye sourdough with lashings of butter and a bowl of salad leaves, broad bean tips and young spring onions, still icy cold and coated in melted frost.

image Next is beetroot..... devote whole swathes of soil to the glorious beetroot and its various, astoundingly beautiful leaves. imageIf you tire of baked / boiled / shredded beetroot this winter, make juice. I love apple, carrot, celery, beetroot and fresh ginger juice. All of these can be in your Tasmanian garden in winter, except the ginger. (I am looking forward to the galangal in my hothouse being a ginger substitute before too long).

I grew celery all winter last year, in my hothouse along with Vietnamese mint, various herbs, some very late tomatoes and one big head of broccoli. This year I am sowing most of these outside but now have lemon grass, galangal, 2 capsicums and 2 tomatoes in there. Celery will definitely have a place there again.... in fact I have just picked the seeds from the previous celery and shoots are regrowing... a very economical plant indeed.

After you have done all this sowing, it will be time for garlic, broad beans (Oh no! Not again, surely!), oniony things, mache, miners' lettuce, coriander, chervil and green manures.

So, don't give up and collapse when your summer harvest is over. Even in cold places like southern Tasmania you can grow food all year round. The food that grows through winter with you, provides the perfect assortment of nutrients for you. It is commonsense but, sadly, commonsense is not that common any more.

2 comments:

Tom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tracy said...

I'm having an autumn sowing frenzy. Looking forward to the delicious winter crops that we miss during the summer and the greens which are too tender for our hot climate.