Days are shorter, temperatures are gentler, and hopefully we get good autumn rains...

Deciduous trees and shrubs are starting to change into their autumn tones - this is the time of year to

look out for plants with great autumn colour to brighten the garden. Blueberries not only provide a

wonderful show of colour, they produce delicious berries as well.

This is also the season for apples, grapes, quinces and figs. In late autumn cumquats, pomegranates,

feijoas, chilies and the early mandarins ripen up. Birds also find many of these to be delicious treats, so

if you want to get to eat any, you may need to net your trees.

Invest in sturdy, commercial standard bird netting, available from Monbulk Rural Enterprises

(See Suppliers) It comes 10 metres wide which is enough to fully cover a backyard fruit tree of about

three metres height and width.

Don't be fooled by the cooler weather - the soil may still be dry: keep the water up to the vegetables,

especially the young seedlings.

Sow in April: bok choy, broccoli, cabbage, kale, cauliflower, lettuce, mustards, spinach, silverbeet,

                       coriander, parsley, turnips.

Sow in May: As for April, but now is a good time to plant broad beans as well as garlic and rhubarb.

Boost the fertility of your soil:
  plant green manure crops in unused garden beds: dun peas, broad

beans, bio-mustard. These can be bought from Oban Trading or Diggers Seeds. (See
Suppliers) Or use

packets of mustard seed from the spice section of the supermarket and bags of dried broad beans

from a bulk supplier.



Autumn bounty:

 Cumquats: beautiful and tasty

Cumquat marmalade is the best!

Chilies add spice to life.


Most of the summer vegies are well and truly finished by late autumn. The weeds, on the other hand

are relishing the cooler weather and the autumn rains! Removing these before they flower and set

seed is definitely a job for now. (Unless you're happy to have them. 'The Backyard Vegetable'

prefers soil nutrients and water to go to the plants that will wind up on the dinner plate...)

Don't waste those weeds though. Give them to the chooks if you have chooks; if they've not gone to

seed, lay them down as mulch or compost them otherwise soak them in water for a month or two then

compost or dig into the soil. The liquid, while smelly makes a good plant tonic - dilute it and water your

plants with it.

It's time to refresh the vegie beds that have grown summer crops: a top up with layers of

dampened manure and straw
will provide nutrients and organic matter for the next lot of crops.

As noted above, a green manure crop will also help rejuvenate the soil. Try dun peas, oats, broad

beans or a combination of these. Cut them down just before flowers form and leave them lying on the

garden bed as mulch.

Not a single one must be wasted!

Collect all those fallen leaves; add them to

the compost heap, dump them in the chook

yard or even just spread them onto garden

beds. Scrounge leaves from friends and

neighbours who don't want theirs: you can

never have enough...

Luscious leaves:

Silverbeet (chard) grows abundantly at this time

of year. What to do with it all?

Try this tasty soup:

olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1/2 packet taco seasoning

2 teasp ground cummin

1/4 bottle taco sauce

2/3 cup each of cooked butter beans, chick

peas and red kidney beans*

800g can chopped tomatoes

2 celery stalks, chopped

6 cups water

3 stock cubes

6 silverbeet leaves

Saute onion in olive oil until clear and soft. Add garlic, taco mix and cummin and cook for one minute

over low heat. Add all remaining ingredients except the silverbeet. Bring to the boil and then simmer

twenty minutes. Add silverbeet and cook a further ten minutes.

Garnish with chopped parsley and serve with sour cream or grated tasty cheese.

* This is roughly a scant half-cup of dried beans/peas. 310g cans of beans and chick peas can be used


The chard pictured here is a chance cross between common sliverbeet and beetroot. Its colour in the

garden is gorgeous, and its deep red stems have a delicious beetrooty flavour.