Hints and tips for Autumn
• Autumn is a great time for lawns , which usually get a few extra mows and a top up feed with fertiliser. However be mindful when giving your chooks fresh lawn cuttings if fertilisers recently been applied. Give the lawn two mows after any fertiliser application before giving cuttings to the chooks.
• With summer vegetables coming to an end, throw expired vegetable plants in the chook pen for a week before composting. A bit of fresh chook poo with help activate the breakdown process.
• Keep your chickens away from your vegetable plants as they love the leafy greens planted at this time of year. A stray chicken will make short work of tender seedlings and although chickens will eat grubs they will also eat plant attached to it!
• It is just as important to make sure your chickens have fresh clean water in cooler weather as in summer.
• Pests such as slaters are thriving this time of year and they can totally devour small seedlings or weaken stems of larger seedlings. Cut a few squeezed oranges in half and place them upside down on the surface of the soil around your seedlings. The cut orange and carrot halves work as very effective slater traps! Check on them each morning and brush the slaters you catch into your chook pen. Slaters have to be one of the chooks all time favourite treats! The orange halves are useful until the dry out with lemons and carrots cut in half also making good traps. To be an effective pest trap you need to check the slater traps every morning without fail and renew the organe halves/carrots every second day.
• Great time for a clean out of chook pens before winter rains . Put any used straw/hay onto your vegetable garden for a nitrogen rich mulch.
• Look for Common, Roman or Sea Wormwood (sometimes labelled as Artemisia) in the herb section of your nursery. Plant in a pot in your chook run and protect with some chicken wire that will protect the young plant but still allow your chooks to get a peck in once it grows bigger. Great plants for preventing worms and lice.
• Chooks love a good dust bath, consider a sheltered area with a sand base so they can continue rolling in the dust even when it rains.
• You know who to give any early weeds to!
• If moving feeders under cover to keep feeds dry in the rain, remember to give some distance between the feeder and where the chooks sleep. This prevents the chooks soiling their food.
• April marks the end of the barramundi season and the start of the trout season. You can grow your trout through November or early December depending on the year but start harvesting from late September, to avoid having to harvest too many fish right at the end of the season.
• Trout are feisty feeders and don’t be tempted to over feed them, remember what goes in has to come out! Feed them small amounts often.
• It's the perfect time for new plantings in your fish farm vegetable beds! Summer veggie species are coming to an end so look through the vegetables section below for advice on what to plant now.
• Don’t be concerned if your fish tank is empty for a few weeks between the barramundi and trout seasons. There will still be plenty of residual nutrient in the water to keep your plants healthy.
• Trout are an exciting fish to grow. They are very active, very hungry feeders and very fast growers!
• Barramundi put on most of their weight (in relation to their full season) in Autumn, but don't be tricked into keeping them any longer. The water will soon become too cold for them so aim to have all of your barramundi out of your fish tank by mid April at the latest. Any longer and you increase the risk of losing them.
• Trout fingerlings can be added to a fish tank that contains Silver Perch. Ensure that the Silver Perch are at least 18cm and the trout at 12cm. The risk is with trout eating (or attempting to eat) the Silver Perch.
• Feed trout fingerlings small pellets of 3mm. Once the fingerlings are 15-18cm in length they will be ready for 5mm pellets. Trout can choke on the larger pellets if introduced before they are ready.
• Trout may jump out of your fish tank, particularly as they get bigger, so it is important to consider covering the top of your fish tank with netting. Bird netting is suitable and very cheap, make a hoop out of reticulation piping, attach the netting to the hoop and put over fish tank.
• Your vegetable garden is likely full of summer vegetables in various stages of growth, harvest or decline and you might not have alot of room to plant. However don't miss this very important time to be preparing for the long winter ahead. There are many vegetables that do most of their growing in the Autumn warmth and then mature into the colder months. The most important of these are broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and brussels sprouts.
• Many winter crops are top heavy (broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts) and require a strong stake. Stake them early, while they are small plants so that early winter storms don’t do any damage and set back plant growth.
• Great time of year to brew some weed tea, the warmth of the daytime really gets the microbes active! Crops love a good dose every 3-4 weeks. Apply to the soil only and give some distance between the tea and the base of the stem of your plants.
• No need to dig manure into the soil, leave it on top for the worms to bring down into the soil. However manure exposed to air will lose nitrogen so cover with a little soil or mulch.
• Seedlings need nutrients to give them the best possible start. However seedlings don’t need a lot of nutrients, so keep the bulk of your composts and manures on standby until the plant really needs its nutrients – when in its growing and fruiting phases.
• If you have a major slater problem then you might consider using snail bait as a last resort. There is at least one brand that is more environmentally concious than the others so look through the information on the packet before purchase. Make traps/shelters to draw the slaters into and place the pellets in the shelter. This contains the poisoned slaters to known areas and helps prevent birds and other wildlife picking up poisoned slaters.
• Jump start the season and plant seedlings, however don’t over water them, they have small root systems and you don’t want nutrients to leech away.
• Contain as much nutrients around the plant base and root zone by using a old pot with the bottom cut out.
• If you notice an area of you veggie garden that always seems to have a lot of weeds, the weeds are telling you that the conditions here are good. Weed the area and plant veggies in this spot. Throw the weeds to the chooks, under a fruit tree or in the compost.
• Great time to apply fresh mulch - Just make sure water can penetrate through to the soil underneath.
• Be realistic when composting! If you have a composter that you are always fighting with, or have never turned a good batch of compost, don't let it damped your composting efforts! Try trench composting, bury bin, worm bin or just chop up your expired plants and leave on the soil surface...plenty of easier options!
• If any expired vegetables have obvious signs of disease (most common tomato, cucumber, zucchini) best to either throw them away or add to a hot compost. You don't want the disease/fungus being passed on.
• Buy a soil ph test kit! They are cheap and available from most hardward stores and will help tell you what the conditions are like for your plants.
• Don't apply mulch too close to the stem of seedlings. Pests such as slaters don't travel too far from the cover of mulch.
• Many warm weather plants are coming to the end of their life span and will likely start to seed. Let the plants that were your best producers over the summer months to go seed, collect the seeds as the plant starts to dry, store them in brown paper lunch bags and use them for next year.
• You will notice a resurgence in your chilli plants at this time of year. If you have plenty, don’t let them dry on the bush and go to waste. Make a chilli sauce or use with garlic in homemade organic pest sprays.
• Plant fast to harvest varieties such as peas and carrot in amongst your slow to harvest varieties such as broccoli and broad beans.
• Don't be tempted to plant traditional summer varieties because it is still warm..
• Aim to have your main winter crops planted by planted by early April at the latest!
• When unsure what to plant for winter, just think of the ingredients used for a chicken soup!
• Stagger planting species such as broccoli and cauliflower by planting a few seedlings every 2 weeks. As the season progresses and the weather cools, the 2 weeks you plant apart now will equate to about 4 weeks difference in harvesting later in the season. It makes for a more prolonged and sustainable crop and you won't harvest your plants all at the same time. But don't delay planting too long as your plants may not get to a decent size before the cool weather arrives and you may not get a harvest from these plants.
• Plants that like the cool weather can be broadly put into two groups. Cabbages, broccoli, cauliflowers (brassicas) grow best when planted in the warmth of mid Autumn for maturing into the cool of winter. The onion family prefers a cooler start then to mature into the warmer weather in spring. In other words, brassicas mature as the days shorten and the onion family mature as the days lengthen. If you get this wrong you run the risk of your plants running to seed before you have had the chance to harvest anything.
Winter Vegetable Planting Suggestions
Important to plant in Early Autumn
Plant Mid Autumn
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