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Planting Guides

What to Plant in Autumn: My Top 10 Suggestions

As the weather grows a little cooler and the days a little shorter, Easter is here and it’s time to look at what to plant in autumn in your vegetable garden. In this article, I will share 10 of my favourite vegetables to grow in autumn, including how and where to plant them.

Autumn is by far my favourite season to get out in the garden in New Zealand; the sun’s not blazing hot and the air’s just a little crisp. Adding to that, the soil temperature is still lovely and warm – all optimal growing conditions for planting out new season crops!

Traditionally around Easter is the best time of the year to plant citrus fruit trees. It gives the roots time to develop before winter sets it. Be sure to give your soil a good boost of fertiliser and they will be very happy fruit trees indeed!

For those of you interested in lawn care, now’s also the time to start sowing new lawn in your outdoor living spaces.

Before I go into what to plant in autumn, here are a few tips following on from last season:

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Harvest

Gather seeds from summer’s crops, being sure they’re properly dried and stored ready for next year.

Harvest the last of any fruit and veggies from summer, perhaps thinking of how you can preserve or freeze them to ensure nothing goes to waste. This year we had an ABUNDANCE of plums and beetroot so we had to get creative! I thought I’d share what we did in case it inspires anyone else who might be up to their eyeballs in extra fruit and veggies this spring/summer season!

  • Balsamic Roast Beetroot (7 cooking trays worth!), bagged and frozen (these freezer bags are a game changer – they save so much space in your freezer!)
  • Chopped Tomatoes – Cover in boiling water to remove skins then chop and freeze.
  • Stewed Plum, Apple & Rhubarb (great for fruit crumbles or over your breakfast cereal). Frozen and preserved.
  • Green Peppers – halved, free flowed in the freezer and then bagged and refrozen.
  • Passionfruit pulped and frozen in ice cubes.
  • Cherry tomatoes slow roasted for 2hrs with honey and thyme (yum!)
  • Basil pesto (beautiful with the cherry tomatoes tossed through pasta!)
  • Pear halves parboiled in sugar syrup and preserved in jars.
Chopping fruit and veggies for stewing and freezing
Apples, plums and rhubarb to be chopped, stewed and frozen in batches
Beetroot in the oven roasting on trays
Beetroot roasting in the oven – 7 trays in total we did!

Replenish the Soil

It’s really important after every growing season to replenish the nutrients in the soil. Even if you’re only digging up small sections of your garden at a time while other crops finish, a good combination of compost or bokashi, sheep pellets and blood and bone will be a great foundation for autumn gardening and winter crops.

What to Plant in Autumn

Broccoli half grown in a veggie patch

Brassicas (cabbage, cauli, broccoli, kale, pak choi etc)

All wonderful winter greens! Best planted outside as seedlings to give them a good chance of survival as the evenings cool.
If you’re planting seeds, start them off in seed trays inside before ‘hardening off’ and transplanting into the garden. Remember to protect young seedlings from slugs and snails; my best trick is making a ‘beer trap’ which you can read more about at the end of this article.

Spacing: 35-40cm apart depending on the variety
Where to plant: Full sun
Best planted in the garden as: Seedlings

beetroot growing in a veggie patch

Beetroot

Roasted or added to a salad, beetroot is always a welcome addition in my winter garden. Easy to grow, young beetroot leaves are also nice tossed through a salad or steamed like silverbeet.

Spacing: 15cm apart
Where to plant: Full sun
Best planted in the garden as: Seedlings

radish growing in a veggie patch

Radishes

Typically a summer vegetable mixed through a salad, but have you ever tried roasting radishes? Roasting takes away the bitterness, making them sweeter and juicy.
The great thing about radishes is that they can take just 5 weeks to grow from seed to harvest! If space is limited you can also plant radishes successfully in containers.

Spacing: 15cm apart
Where to plant: Partial sun to full sun
Best planted in the garden as: Seeds

carrots poking out the top of soil in a veggie garden

Carrots

A great crop to plant in autumn as the soil is optimum for germination (not too dry, not too wet). Sow directly in the ground as seeds and as they get bigger, remember to thin them out. If you do this when they’re a little bigger you can eat the small carrots you thin rather than them going to waste.

Spacing: Sprinkle in rows
Where to plant: Partial sun to full sun
Best planted in the garden as: Seeds

Gardening Tip: In a container, try mixing carrot seeds with a handful of sand before sprinkling in rows. This helps to break up the seeds and spread them out further, meaning they require less thinning as they grow.

Green lettuces in the veggie garden ready to pick and eat

Lettuces

Lettuces can be grown all year round depending on how cold your winters are. Even if it snows where you live, lettuces make a great container crop so can be grown well indoors over the cooler months. Autumn lettuces don’t have the tendency to bolt as they do in summer so they have less chance of developing that bitter taste.

Spacing: 20cm apart
Where to plant: Partial sun to full sun
Best planted in the garden as: Seedlings

Bunch of leeks from the veggie garden

Leeks

One of the easiest alliums to grow, get your seedlings in the ground late summer to ensure they are a good size come winter. Best planted as seedlings but be sure to keep on top of the weeds! Leave them too long and you’ll accidentally pull out young seedlings along with the weeds.
As leeks grow, keep mounding them up to protect the roots and keep them upright.

Spacing: 10cm apart
Where to plant: Full sun
Best planted in the garden as: Seedling plants

broad beans hulled and a bowl of broad beans

Broad Beans

I admit broad beans aren’t the most popular choice when thinking of what to plant in autumn, but they serve a double purpose. As a legume, nodes under the soil serve as great nitrogen fixers. Nitrogen is essential for plant growth and production, so it’s a great crop to consider in your autumn garden.

Spacing: 12cm apart
Where to plant: Full sun
Best planted in the garden as: Seeds

silverbeet in a vegetable garden

Silverbeet & Spinach

Excellent greens to have in the garden ahead of cold and flu season. Silverbeet and/or spinach are a staple in my autumn garden. I find silverbeet self-seeds throughout the year so it’s constantly growing in my garden. I simply move it to where I want it and away it goes. A really hardy, easy to grow crop. Spinach is also an easy grow crop and is great grown in containers. There are also some great spinach companion plant combinations in the garden.

Spacing: 30cm apart
Where to plant: Full sun
Best planted in the garden as: Seedlings

Coriander growing in the garden

Coriander

All herbs are great to have on hand throughout the year, but coriander, in particular, is a great one to consider when wondering what to plant in autumn. The reason being, if it gets too hot it bolts and goes to seed making it a difficult herb to grow over summer. With cooler autumn days, coriander is a great one to grow in your garden or in containers. Check out my coriander growing tips here to find out why coriander is best grown from seed.

Spacing: 2cm apart
Where to plant: Partial shade
Best planted in the garden as: Seeds

purple flowers in the garden

Flowers

Not the most delicious suggestion when considering what to plant in autumn, but definitely the most beneficial! Flowers are incredibly important for pollination so don’t feel like they’re ever a waste of space. Pansies, violas, and polyanthus are all tolerant of cooler weather. As a general rule of thumb, try planting 10% flowers in your veggie garden.

Ever wondered which colours bees are most attracted to? Purple, violet and blue!

Where to Buy Non-GMO Seeds

When considering which seeds to purchase it’s so important to consider the treatment of the seeds and whether any GMO (Genetic Modification) or chemical altering has taken place. This ultimately becomes what we eat!

If you’re looking for high quality, non-GMO, non-hybridised, natural seeds, I can highly recommend Seeds Now. All of their seeds are tested for germination, but best of all they’re 100% natural so no chemical altering has taken place.

To view their HUGE selection of flower and vegetable seeds, click the button below.

Pest Control

Slugs and snails are prevalent at this time of the year and can eat your seedlings to a stub overnight! My go-to is creating a Beer Trap (yes the slimy little fellas have a hankering for a pint!)

How to make a Beer Trap

  1. Choose a large plastic cup or container
  2. Dig into the ground so it’s level with the soil.
  3. Fill cup with beer!

The next morning you’ll likely notice some unwelcome visitors who’ve been hanging around for a late drink.

Aphids and whitefly are still about at this time of the year too. You can often blast these off with a hose or mix up a spray of warm soapy water.

If you live in an area where early frosts are a worry, remember to protect young seedlings with frost cloth tunnels or cut the top off a soda bottle and use this to make a mini-greenhouse (remember to remove the cap).

Mulching your garden beds is always a good idea, especially if you’ve created gaps in the garden after a busy summer. Mulch helps to suppress weeds and retain moisture in the soil.

I would love to hear and see what you end up planting in your vegetable garden this autumn! Feel free to pop a comment below or head over to my Facebook page.

Happy gardening!

profile picture of Gabrielle

About the Author

Elle Reed is a passionate gardener and advocate for teaching beginner gardeners how to grow their own food. Elle’s mission is to inspire and empower people to get back to basics, grow their own produce, and embrace a sustainable lifestyle. “Whether it’s a few herb pots in an apartment, a potager or a full garden plot, we can all ‘start somewhere’ to grow our own food, and in doing so, provide healthier food for ourselves and those we love”.

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Looking for inspiration on what to plant in autumn in your vegetable garden? Read my top 10 suggestions including top tips & growing guides.

I hope you enjoyed this post. This post is part of a very special Easter collaboration with other lovely bloggers from around the world. Please, do go and check out their posts.

Deborah Fogliani from shemamswithoils.com 50 BEST, FUNNY AND ENTERTAINING EASTER RIDDLES FOR KIDS

Errika Tegge Horner from thehomecontent.com How to make shea butter bath bombs Easy DIY recipe

Juliea Huffaker from farmhouseharvest.net HISTORY OF EASTER & EASTER MEANING