Spend the month in the garden planning for the seasons ahead

April ushers in the celebration of Easter and cool days and respite from the extremes of summer. Change is in the air as leaves colour on deciduous plants and begin to drift to the ground. Autumn-flowering shrubs especially sasanqua camellias are in full bloom and the last of summer’s crops are being harvested in the vegie patch. It’s time to plant, propagate and plan for the year ahead.

Great autumn lawn tips including reseeding parts of your lawn

Greening autumn lawns

In many areas lawn growth slows over winter as warm season grasses such as kikuyu, soft buffalo and couch, begin to enter winter dormancy. Where lawns look dull or there are bare patches, oversow with lawn seed. The lawn seed produces a cool season grass variety such as perennial rye which will grow during winter and keep the lawn looking green but will fade away as warm temperatures return.

Clover in lawns also keeps them green through winter and has the added benefit of adding nitrogen to the soil. To get good germination from seeds, rake over the soil, water and scatter seeds and water it in with  Seasol Lawn & Turf Starter hose-on. Apply weekly to help improve seed germinate rates and promote strong root development. Keep germinating seeds moist and free of foot traffic. If birds are likely to steal the seed, cover seeded areas with shadecloth or fine netting. Remove once the green shoots appear. Hold off mowing until the new grass is well established.

Vegetables to sow now

Crops to start in autumn as seed or seedling include broccoli, brussels sprouts, beetroot, cabbage, kale and turnips. Also sow snow peas, peas and leeks. When sowing seeds into seed trays or punnets, use a premium seed raising mix such as Seasol Seed Raising & Cutting Potting Mix. In areas with warmish winters, add broad beans to your homegrown feast.

Full sun is vital for good growth especially during autumn and winter so make sure these vegies are in a warm, sunny but sheltered location. If the vegie bed is shaded, try growing vegies in containers in the sunniest part of the garden.

Use a good quality premium potting mix such as Seasol Advanced Potting Mix to get the best results from container-grown vegetables and water every 10-14 days with liquid plant food such as PowerFeed PRO SERIES for Tomatoes & Vegetables.

Seasol Seed Raising & Cutting Mix - Video Thumbnail

Get planting

Autumn is a bit of a Goldilocks time in the garden as like the Baby Bear’s porridge in the story, it’s “just right” for planting. In mid-autumn the soil is still warm after summer but cooler air temperatures and extra soil moisture from autumn rains encourage root growth on new plantings.

While plants may not show much above ground growth, they’ll be ready to grow as soon as the longer and warmed days of spring arrive. Good selections for autumn planting are all native plants and evergreen shrubs. Autumn is also a good time to repot containerised plants that need to be reinvigorated after summer.

Hold off planting out frost-sensitive plants in cold areas until spring. Water in new plantings with Seasol to help them get a good start and apply regularly (Mix 30mL per 9 litres of water – standard watering can) every two weeks to promote healthy growth and strong root development.

Pansies and other annual flowers for winter

Pansies love cold weather and provide a great pick me up in flower in the garden with their happy faces and bright colours. Pansies and their smaller relative, the viola, are planted in autumn to flower right through winter.

In cool climates, pansies and violas flower into summer. Look for punnets of seedlings or small potted plants already in bloom to add to your garden or to pot up into a trough or hanging basket.

Pansies and violas like a sunny spot with enriched soil so dig in compost or well-rotted manure and/or Seasol Super Compost. Where digging is a problem, apply Seasol Liquid Compost, available as a concentrate (mix 50mL per 9 litres of water – standard watering can) or use the hose-on.

TIP: To keep your pansies blooming, remove spent flowers and liquid feed regularly with PowerFeed PRO SERIES for Roses & Flowers.

Five important jobs for mid-autumn

  1. Give the lawn a light mow before winter sets in and feed and revitalise both the lawn and soil after mowing with Seasol for Lush Green Lawns. It also contains Seasol which helps reduce the stresses of mowing.
  2. Cut down spent summer annuals and perennials that are coming to the end of their time to make way for new plantings.
  3. Cut back on watering as the weather cools but do continue to water vegetables and annuals and plants in containers
  4. Don’t forget the Seasol. Regularly apply Seasol  (Mix 30mL of concentrate per 9 litres of water – standard watering can) especially to new plantings and frost-sensitive plants.
  5. Where summer vegetables have been cleared and you don’t want to plant another crop until spring, either sow a green manure crop to dig back into the soil later in the year or cover the soil with organic mulch.

Indoor plants in autumn

As light levels fall, indoor plants may need to be moved into more brightly lit locations, but don’t put them too close to cold windows as the chill, especially overnight, may damage sensitive plants. Where extra light isn’t available, invest in a grow light to provide extra winter light. Keep plants away from the heater.

To keep indoor plants growing evenly and straight, turn pots by a quarter (90 degrees) when you water. This gives all parts of the plant even exposure to light.

To keep them looking good, apply PowerFeed Indoor & Potted Plants to the potting mix regularly every 2 to 4 weeks for lush, healthy foliage. Also cut back on watering as the weather cools and check soil moisture before watering.

Easy autumn indoor plant care to keep your plants lush and happy

Harvesting kiwi fruit

While many fruits have been harvested, those growing kiwi fruit (also called Chinese gooseberry) are just beginning to look for ripe fruit. The elliptical brown furry fruit ripens in autumn and holds well on the vine.

To test for ripeness feel the fruit for softness and taste it for sweetness. The green flesh should be bright green and dotted with black seeds. If the fruit is firm or tastes tart, leave the crop a little longer. Almost ripe fruit will ripen indoors in the fruit bowl.

Where birds and possums are attacking the fruit, protect your harvest with bird-safe netting. After harvest, prune vines which will be very overgrown and apply Seasol to help reduce the stresses of pruning and promote healthy, strong growth.