Broad beans, Silverbeet and Beetroot, are easy vegetables to grow in Autumn
April in New Zealand sees us midway into Autumn (Fall), and we are also three weeks or more into the COVID19 lockdown at the time of writing this article.
As a learner gardener, I thought that we can look at three April vegetables that can be grown as the temperatures cool down in April and May. You should always double-check with your garden centre the suitability of sowing in your local area.
You may also like to read our previous article – Why rotate your vegetable garden – as a lead into this article.
Legumes – Beans beautiful beans
Can be sown March to May. In colder areas sowing can be as late as June, also consider whether to sow seeds into pots inside or place undercover.
Soil temperatures should be between 6°C (42°F) and early twenties, 20°C (68°F).
Broad beans tend to be easy to sow direct into the garden, in a well-drained composted soil in a sunny garden position.
Broad beans plants should be protected from frosts with a shade cloth or under a cover. Protect from wind.
Sow about 20cm (8”) apart. A good rule of thumb is to place the bean in the soil the depth of only twice the size of the actual seed.
There is no need for fertilising while the beans are growing.
Harvesting will be in about 12 or more weeks
Aphid is the primary pest that needs to be monitored on the plants.
Broad Beans can be frozen but should be blanched first.
Leafy Greens – A household favourite
Silverbeet is a favourite of mine, it has so much value from being easy to grow and easy to cook, and Silverbeet can be grown the majority of the year.
Silverbeet was one of the first leafy greens that I started with, growing silverbeet from a seedling and never looked back. However, Silverbeet, which is also known as Swiss Chard, can be seed sown directly into the garden or in pots, with germination in about 10 to 14 days. Thinning may be required.
Best grown in soil temperate from 10°C (50°F).
The seedling should be planted about 30cm (12”) apart. Plant in fertile composted soil and the plants will be happy in full sun or partial shade.
Slow-release fertiliser should be applied with frequent watering, as dry conditions will cause the plant to go to seed quickly.
Harvesting will be in about 12 weeks. Pick the outer leaves when they are ready, leaving the inner leaves to grow for a continuous supply, as Silverbeet likes this type of harvesting.
Silverbeet is susceptible to mildew and mould and watch out for the slugs and snails.
In the refrigerator, Silverbeet will last for up to 2 weeks.
The Root Family
Beetroot – a fast easy growing vegetable
For the learner gardener, Beetroot is an easy, fast vegetable to grow.
For those gardeners that like a drink too many, Beetroot can help detoxify the liver, the red Betacyanin pigment helps in this aspect.
Like Silverbeet, Beetroot can be sown all year round in the warmer North of New Zealand. Soil temperature needs to be higher than 10°C (50°F).
Seeds need to be sown directly into the soil as seedlings do not transplant well. Some thinning at about 5cm (2”) may be required as plants should be 30cm (12”) apart.
Beetroot is a fast-growing crop and can be harvested 9 weeks after sowing. Do not let the Beetroot grow for an extended period as they become woody.
Beetroot can generally handle any soil. A feed of compost is always good, but don’t cover the growing Beetroot as they like their tops – top of the roots – just out of the ground.
Keep the Beetroot well-watered during the warmer months.
With Beetroot, the pests to watch out for are whitefly and thrips.
Beetroot can be stored in the refrigerator for two or more weeks, and the smaller Beetroot varieties can be kept in the freezer for up to 8 months.
This is just a small selection of Autumn (Fall) easy grow vegetables that can be sown. Experiment with these and let us at The Learner Gardener know about your success or otherwise, we would love to know.
The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul.Alfred Austin
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