Every year I manage to grow a few extra things through autumn as I become more familiar with their timing. I admit there's a fair bit of trial and error involved but, that's pretty normal in my garden.Like me, you too may be focused on enjoying all the lovely produce coming into your kitchen from your garden at the moment. Waiting patiently for the results of your earlier efforts, growing, flowering and getting bigger every day. Perhaps a little longer still for those pumpkin, squash and melons but with anticipation all the same. To start thinking about where to sow the autumn things is sometimes in the 'too hard' basket.
But planning for autumn sowing is simply all about getting your timing right to achieve a pre-winter harvest. It seems there's a big difference in the enthusiasm levels between spring and autumn gardening. When you call us, or if you drop in, it's all down to the fact that you just don't know what you can grow! Many people are just not aware of the best varieties to be sown in autumn for a winter harvest. As general gardening knowledge increases and interested beginner gardeners gain confidence, we field many of your questions about what to buy and when to sow it. Now is the perfect time for you to start planning. Hopefully you're already receiving our monthly newsletter, covering autumn heirlooms over the next three months. If not, you can sign up for it on our website.
Just to get you thinking about autumn, let's try one or two varieties for starters and you can go from there!
Have you heard of Broccoflower? When researching for this blog I discovered that the word was trademarked by a Californian company for the green cauliflowers they market. But the Romanesco broccoli also falls under this name.
BROCCOLI PRECOCE ROMANESCO
This is a beautiful looking broccoli that I love showing people in my garden. It always receives exclamations and interest especially when it's ready to pick. The formation of the heads is unusual and the light green colour is spectacular.
As well as Broccoflower, it can be referred to as Romanesco cauliflower or Romanesco broccoli and is an edible flower bud of Brassica oleracea.
The head is made up of lots of small heads clustered quite tightly that form into a peak. Lots of references call it a fractal shape which is where each bud is made up of smaller buds and they form as a spiral until the smallest bud becomes the terminating point. Check out the shape of an artichoke or a pine-cone where you can see the same formation.
The texture is a little more tender than cauliflower and sweeter, so perfect for eating raw. Add it to your next vegetable platter and I guarantee it will be a conversation starter.
CAULIFLOWER GREEN MACERATA
This cauliflower is also the spectacular light green colour and is appearing in some supermarkets and farmers markets. If like me, you love your veges a little different to the norm, this is a great one to try. I always suspect any vegetable that is a bright colour and different to the traditional colours will be a hybrid, but the good news about this one is that it is an heirloom.
An interesting fact for the 'high protein, low-carb' consumers is that it is higher in protein than broccoli or white cauliflower at nearly 3%.
Both of the above can be used as a nice change to cauliflower or broccoli. I have this old recipe for a side dish (or the vegetarians in your family may like it on its own) in my 'Favourites Cook Book' which I use for cauli or broccoli.
RECIPE: Saucy Broccoli/Cauli/Broccoflower
2 Tb Butter 1 cup celery - sliced
Small onion - chopped 1 packet Maggi soup (Cream of chicken or onion)
1 cup water 1/4 cup Nestle Reduced cream
1 Tb lemon juice 1 Tb lemon rind
500g Broccoli, cauli or other 1/4 cup slivered almonds - pan toasted
1. Saute onion & celery in butter.
2. Add soup & water.
3. Simmer 5 minutes, while stirring.
4. Cool slightly.
5. Add reduced cream, lemon rind & juice.
6. Cook broccoli, cauli, etc.
7. Place on serving dish and pour sauce over.
8. Sprinkle with almonds and serve.
I used to just harvest my summer produce and then leave the garden to the weeds over winter. Then I discovered another option; if you're not keen to sow seed for autumn, a great thing to do is prime your soil for spring. Sow a manure crop or two to rejuvenate your garden. Check out this previous blog on Manure Crops if this sounds like something you'd like to explore.
Anything that minimises the weeding in my garden gets the big thumbs up!
Go on.....give two to three autumn crops a go, extend your harvest......are you ready for the challenge!!