Autumn in the Garden

Dill seed maturing on plant in autumn garden

Winter has arrived with a stormy fury here in New Zealand, and it’s time to look back on our autumn gardening season. Join us for look at what’s been happening behind the scenes in our home garden this fall, and our preparations for the winter season ahead.

Autumn Garden Success Stories and Top Crops

Remember those surprise standout eggplants from our summer garden update? Dozens made their way to a basket by our letterbox for neighbours to collect before I finally conceded frosty defeat and cleared the plants away to make room for winter veggies. I saved seeds from one of the final harvested eggplants and have planted then in the glasshouse. It might be a total flop, but we’ll see what happens.

Eggplant (aubergine) on plant in vegetable garden

My neighbourhood fruit and vegetable pusher giveaways also included a huge haul of feijoas. The windbreak hedge between the main garden and edible garden has a mixed variety of 10 feijoa plants. They’re still young, but are starting to mature and shape up nicely. Recognise the DIY painted garden labels in the photo below?  They’re still holding up well in our wild weather and harsh UV conditions. One of my favourite DIYs to date!

Ripe feijoas falling from shrubs in the autumn

Garden to Table

Garden to table is the aim when it comes to edible gardening. Some crops are easier to use than others, and I’m always experimenting with new recipes and ways to use what we have. Another bumper crop from this year’s autumn garden were the hot chilis. They’re great to grow for small quantity fresh use and much cheaper than buying them here, even when in season.  My plants went overboard this year and I ended up with way more than we could handle for cooking or fresh toppings. Some slide into experimental baking, like this chili oat loaf, delish. When the time came to pull the plant and clear the beds, the rest were smoked, dehydrated, and ground into homemade chili powder. 

Homemade chili oatmeal bread cooling on kitchen counter

Seasonal Failures and Flop Crops

Our broken persimmon from the late summer storm was a complete crop loss this year. In good news though, the trunk is starting to set branches so fingers crossed the tree will regrow stronger than ever and thrive again in a few years.  Elsewhere in the garden, the olive crop wasn’t a true flop, but once again the birds were the main beneficiaries of the harvest.  I don’t mind sharing, but I love olives and it would be novel to preserve our own.

Autumn garden olive tree

Edible Gardening in All Seasons

We’re very lucky here to be able to grow some edibles all year round. Winter is the most difficult season for growing, with limited options on cool-weather planting and managing frost protection for vulnerable crops, but it’s still very doable. With the rising cost of food, the more edibles we can grow for ourselves and for sharing with others the better. Although some crops need extra care, the winter has far fewer pests (other than slugs and snails). It’s my favourite time of year for plants like lettuce, which are difficult to protect from our many warmer weather insects in a spray-free garden. It’s also a surprise favourite for fresh coriander with long slow bolt-free growing.

Baby lettuce plants in the garden bed

Covered Raised Winter Beds 

The raised garden beds are fitted with hoops and removeable frostcloth covers to help shelter our winter vegetables from frost and soften the blows of heavy rain, hail, and wind that sometimes come with our winter weather conditions. Raised beds are a haven from the cold and soggy ground, especially in our heavy clay soils

Mobile Pots and Containers

Container growing also keeps roots above soggy soil, although they can be colder in shady winter and hotter in sizzling summer, so plant selection and pot positioning is important. Since they’re moveable, these can be shifted around to suit seasonal conditions or moved to shelter when needed.  I’ve planted a few extra small container plants for this winter, too. Chives are currently growing in a pot on our covered patio table for quick snipping access, and hanging baskets in the glasshouse are brimming with mini basil instead of flowers. Which brings me to the glasshouse in general.

Greenhouse and Glasshouse Growing Through Winter

Every year we learn and adjust the new season’s garden plans. This winter, we’re trying to make better use of our glasshouse growing space. It’s a tricky balance as it’s unheated (other than sun) so cold at night or in bad weather. I’m experimenting with a number of different plants, including some special cold weather tomatoes. Past attempts to grow glasshouse tomatoes in our winter have failed to set fruit, even with manual pollination. Fingers crossed, but not confident. The plants are looking good though. Quick growing low-space microgreens are also growing in the glasshouse this winter.

Our Furfamily

Winter is not my favourite season, and it’s definitely not Humphrey’s either. He’s not a fan of cold rainy days. Our autumn was beautiful though! We were spoiled with lots of warm sunny days for enjoying walks and outside time. Autumn was probably Oli’s favourite, too, and seeing fall leaves makes me think of him. He loved chasing blowing leaves and nesting in leaf piles. Here’s a throwback photo to bring you a smile.

Dalmatian dog in pile of fall leaves

Farewell Fall

I hope you enjoyed a peek at our autumn garden and what’s happening around our place in preparation for winter gardening and growing. Drop by our Instagram to check in on how things are growing in our garden as we work through the chilly winter season ahead.

Autumn garden updates from Green in Real Life

You might also enjoy: