From now until late next month is the best time for growing
plants that will mature in autumn and be used in the
Savoy cabbages, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, silverbeet,
parsnips, leeks, salsify and swedes can be sown for autumn
and winter use.
Asparagus beds should be starting to bear mature shoots. Cut
them carefully or young buds just below the surface will be
destroyed. Do not allow any of the shoots to grow a top or
the plant will be finished for the season.
Runner beans can still be sown. Put them 15cm apart in double
rows, with 20cm between rows. When beans come through, stake
with straight poles strong enough to withstand the weight of
crops in a gale.
Silverbeet grows best in soil enriched with regular watering
of liquid manure. That promotes quick, robust growth and
produces a broad mid-rib, which can also be used for cooking.
Sweet corn can usually be safely sown early in November. The
plant is sensitive to cold winds, late frosts and cold, wet
soils. Warm temperatures are necessary for rapid, productive
growth. Dress soil with plenty of organic material. To form
cobs, plants must cross-pollinate, so place seeds in double
rows or groups of five or six, 15cm apart in each direction.
Zucchini, vegetable marrows, squash and pumpkins can be sown
All vegetable crops can be improved by regular light
cultivation of soil around them. It improves aeration and
controls weeds before they reach seed-shedding maturity.
Nasturtiums are good annuals to grow in dry garden spots,
window boxes and hanging baskets. Sow seeds in pairs 30cm
apart and thin to one when they sprout.
Dimorphotheca, Eschscholtzia (Californian poppy), Linum,
Portulaca and annual chrysanthemums are good to grow in poor,
Gaillardia, Verbascum, marguerite daisy, Arctotis, Gazania,
scented winter-flowering Iris unguicularis (formerly I.
stylosa) and Crassula croccinea (a succulent) are perennials
to try in dry sunny spots, while Crocosmia can provide
flowers in season from the poorest soils.
Lilium regale is one of the most popular lilies, easily
raised from spring-sown seed. In good growing conditions,
bulbs will form and produce flowers in two years. Sow in
seed-raising mix that has been saturated with water. Cover
the seeds with 1cm of mix. Germination may be erratic. During
the first season, seedlings seem to direct all their energies
into bulb production.
Fragrant old-fashioned annuals include night-scented stock,
mignonette and tobacco plant (Nicotiana). Night-scented
stocks are easy to grow and do not require a rich soil. Sow
near a window or deck used on summer evenings.
Mignonette must be sown in its permanent position as the
plants resent being moved. Lime in the soil will help strong
growth. Sow seed sparsely and thin plants out early.
Nicotiana is valued for its perfume and trumpet-shaped white
or red flowers. Sow seed under cover this month and
transplant in early December. It can tolerate a semi-shaded
Tomatoes can be sown under a cloche, then thinned to two or
even one plant in each. Dwarf varieties are recommended.