The jobs required in the vegetable garden in Autumn obviously vary depending on your climate, but as a Southerner, we are in a cool climate. This means relatively settled and quite sunny days with cool nights. Some areas will start to experience frosts which will spell the end of the warm season summer crops of plants such as corn, capsicums, chillies, tomatoes, cucumbers etc.
Autumn is the time to start planning out the crop rotation of your vegetable garden beds and to clear and prepare any beds of plantings from Summer.
The Legume Bed
You can still sneek in a late crop of peas in the garden, either shelling or snow. I usually do, and then co- plant the bed out with the early bean crops, which will eventually take over the bed and see the legumes sorted for the summer season.
I usually grow peas on each outer edge of the bed (for accessibility more than anything), then plant a row of bush (dwarf) green beans down the middle, supplemented with two different climbing beans at one end, usually Purple King and a green bean variety. By the time the peas are finishing, the beans have caught up and take over producing. This is a crop of Purple King climbing beans grown last year. This season's plants are just about ready to go in at the end of the Legume bed.
The Root Crop Beds
Go for carrots of your choice - we successively sow all year round and change varieties to suit the season we're sowing in - always sow direct, don't grow from seedling as they will bolt to seed. Spring is a great time for beetroot, again, sow direct, but make sure you soak the seed in water for a few hours first to soften the corklike outer skin of the seed cluster.
Parsnips - are another must for me, great in winter roasted, they take quite a time in ground, so make sure you allocate a space in the vegetable garden beds that won't be inconvenient later on. Radish - these are the quickest growing veg I've seen, well maybe along with zucchini. Treat them like the lettuce crop, successive sowing in rows for successive harvesting.
Onions - I find these tricky and the most important aspect is to select the correct variety so they don't go to seed. Spring onions (some call them shallots, which in my book are completely different) are a good option, successive sowing for successive harvesting to go in salads and stirfries.
The Leaf Crops Bed
Go crazy! - I put in a row of mixed lettuce seed, usually a mixed leaf picking variety rather than head lettuces Asian Greens - early Spring is a great time to grow Asian Greens, they don't like the heat, nor being transplanted, so sow direct into the vegetable garden bed. Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cabbage etc - I only grow these as a late planting in early Spring.
This brings them to harvest as Summer takes off. Although they will grow throughout summer, I don't like fighting the white cabbage moth and subsequent caterpillars all the time and seem to lean towards more salads. Sweet Corn - these usually go in, in a block planting in the pumpkin bed. See below.
The Curbit/Pumpkin Bed
Now's the time to get the Zucchini, Pumpkin and Cucumbers in and if you have room and warm enough temperatures, try your hand at rock or watermelons too. They all have the same requirements, so can all go together, but space is a must for most.
If you grow Zucchini, or Courgettes as some call them, you only need a couple of plants - the production of fruit is prolific and rapid, you definitely won't keep up! This season we're growing the Italian Striped variety, which has proven to be great for cooking as they stay firmish, rather than turning to mush.
The Cucurbit bed is also a great place to grow corn as the plants rise above the patch and then eventually provide strong stalks the pumpkins and melons can use for support.