We often think about the height of summer or the depths of winter and in spring we are too busy managing seedlings to really notice when it is, just so long as the frosts stop soon so we can get on with the business of growing things out in the garden. Autumn is a strange season. A bit of a limbo land and the further we get into it the further it takes us away from the main growing season. We never really acknowledge the middle of autumn as there doesn’t seem much to look forward to except the imminent arrival of the cold chill of winter.
We keep a closer eye on the weather man in the hopes it will stay mild for just a bit longer and each morning we cautiously open the curtains looking for a dewy green garden and not a white sparkly one. There are plants still in the garden limping their way towards the end of the growing season, with branches still bearing the immature green fruits. The gardener is so desperate to have just one last taste of a sun ripened tomato, just one more meal of fresh green beans, and is reluctant to give up hearing the unmistakeable freshness of a just picked capsicum being sliced open.
Looking out over the tired garden is still a place of possible abundance, if only it receives a little extra care, attention and continued warmth. But that frost is not far away. Winter will sneak into the gentleness of autumn and give us a taste of what is in store and with it, take away the tattered remnants of the summer garden. It can be a cruel blow to the unprepared gardener.
However, steps can be taken to save summer for just a bit longer. While the soil is still warm, a frost cloth or tunnel house or cloche can protect the crops from the night chill. Carefully repotting old favourites into large pots with the best quality potting mix you can buy and bringing them to a warm sheltered spot will allow the harvest to go on, although often at a much slower pace.
A trip down to the nearest garden centre today to discover the myriad of protection options available may just save your harvest tomorrow. The cold is coming, and in the unpredictability of the season you never know when it will strike.
It shouldn’t be forgotten in the angst of clinging to plants from a past season, that autumn has wonderful crops of its own that can be planted now. So while you are at the garden centre with frost cloth under your arm and cloches balanced in your basket, linger among the seedlings and check out the seed packets. The array and variety available for growing at this time of year may surprise you and you’ll have to swap that basket for a trolley. An autumn garden is also a place of abundance.
Being in the centre of autumn is a bit about overlap, being able to benefit from what is left from summer, but fossicking about in the soil, getting your hands dirty and planting seeds and alongside it planting expectations that will be a fruitful harvest when you find yourself in the middle of the next season. The other benefit to come from autumn is the pace in the garden slows right down, so the gardener has an opportunity to relax and just enjoy the garden, with the added advantage is it is still warm enough, although as the days go on, a rug over the knees and a hot cup of homemade soup from home grown veggies wouldn’t go a miss.
Will these chillies ripen in time?