Autumn veggie garden is definitely my favourite season in sunny South Africa; that means April and May. There's the scent of mellow fruitfulness of the remains of summer and all the promise of the winter to come.
This page was last updated by Bernard Preston on 8th May, 2021.
I hated autumn in Holland; the stark, long winter lay ahead, but ours is short-lived and the organic greens are sprouting in profusion.
The beehives are smelling divine with the first harvest of the year just ahead. The scent, intermingled with that from the leculias is a wonder to the senses.
We are still enjoying the last of the summer vegetables. There are a few corn on the cob to be had for lunch, and the last row of green beans has just started bearing.
We're holding thumbs against an early frost; that will finish them off.
There are still a few zucchinis to be had and the summer spinach and kale are yielding the last of their green shoots.
There are even still a few granadillas to be enjoyed, but not many; my grandson gets all of them. At two years old he is very passionate about his food.
But it is the autumn and winter gardens that we now look forward to.
Eleven swarms of angry African "killer" bees will provide more than enough for the family and friends; in fact our hives produced more than 700 pounds of honey last year. And a nice bit of pocket-money for a few treats for the family; this year it will be a faster router.
Last night I harvested 40 bottles of honey from the third hive from the left. This is one of the most rewarding hobbies that anyone could enjoy; but it is hard work, the supers are heavy and African bees have a way of showing their displeasure when their is pantry is being robbed.
There is a caring relationship between the 'keeper and his pets; he provides them with a sound home protected from the elements, they give to him a sweet reward. Some would say he exploits them; a naive view in my opinion.
Autumn veggie garden is about planting those organic winter greens before the cold sets in.
It is been a long three months with no citrus from the garden, but now the first limes, mandarins and lemons are turning yellow, but the Valencias will not ripen for another six months; they are still grass-green.
Fruit trees like full sun; just look at the profusion of fruit on this mandarin orange tree since we cut back a large azalea that was shading it.
Fruit trees need fertilizer; you either purchase the inorganic sort, or provide your own from the compost heap and worm-farm for your autumn veggie garden.
I am passionate about backyard permaculture; that is the sustainable garden working with rather than against nature.
Choice foods is where the long life enjoyed largely without medication starts; if you want to sit under those trees you once planted, and sip coffee whilst watching the children grow up, then it's time to think about organic greens, and oranges and purples, and planting an autumn veggie garden.
An early miserable demise is on the cards for those still on black and white; like TV it's long past time to step up to colour.
Those who eat 8 to 10 coloured foods every day have a 35% lower all-cause of death; that's massive. Less pain and misery, fewer drugs and visits to doctors; and the DC too.
Mind you, you can strain your back preparing the autumn veggie garden, and I have an aching shoulder from using the chainsaw yesterday, preparing timber for the wood-stove; even in Africa it gets moderately cold in the winter.
Best of all, perhaps, was the first avocado this week; there was a battle with the grandchildren as to who was going to have the first taste.
We are unable to grow olives on the eastern seaboard with its summer rainfall, so avocados are the only other ready source of the exceptionally fine fruit fatty-acids. It's not been an easy season for the avocados with the Hass nearly killed with an unusual black frost last winter, and a hailstorm that struck just when they were in flower.
Despite that, the Fuerte and the Pinkerton should provide enough fruit for six months; it's all happening in the autumn veggie garden.
Nutritious choice foods must include fat; remember the brain is largely made of lard, and most nerves are coated with a fatty myelin sheath. Without foods like avocados we would die within a short time.
Dieting certainly should not about cutting out all the fat. In fact, so important is this for our nervous systems we have started importing freshly-harvested olives from the Karoo and pickling them in brine for six months.
Controversially we have four cherry guava trees; they are listed amongst the world's top 100 most invasive species. At sea level, that is, but at nearly 4000 feet above sea level, they are not troublesome at all. Nevertheless, folk who think we should only grow indigenous plants frown upon us. These beauties mean we have fresh fruit every day for months, and the most divine jelly to go on our sandwiches.
But it's the coloured vegetables that this autumn veggie garden blog is really about; remembering that those who consume eight or more coloured foods, most days, have a 35 percent lower all-cause of death.
Organic green food is what it's all about. Queen of the anti-tumour lobby is broccoli, and here I must make a punt for the those grown in compost, and picked fresh from your own autumn veggie garden. Recently I had a commercial broccoli, and I'm not surprised my grandchildren turned up their noses; it was insipid and tasteless. I did too.
We have three plantings of broccoli spaced about a month apart in our autumn veggie garden. The most mature are already forming a head, the youngest planted last week. We will be eating broccoli for probably the next six months, as we enjoy the shoots that continue to be formed by the branched variety. Helen's chicken broccoli soup recipe is to die for.
Here we have broccoli, forming heads in the foreground; beyond them cauliflower. In the centre row are a late crop of bush green beans, with beetroot in the distance. On the right, radish in the foreground and green peas beyond. Three wonderful rows of nourishing goodness.
It's now time to consider how to plant broad beans in the autumn veggie garden..
Above are three rows of broccoli plants about a month old, and below broccoli planted just one week ago.
Nothing demonstrates the power of humus than a butternut plant, self sown, growing in a compost heap. Unlike pumpkins, big is better; this 17 inch beauty will feed our family of four adults and three children for a week. And it's still growing; soon we'll be having roasted butternut squash recipe in abundance.
Also in the autumn veggie garden I love this huge mixed butternut and sweet potato patch. The form such a good ground cover that no weed dares compete, making it easy on the gardeners.
It's May now and before too long the first frost will kill off the tops, and we can start reaping. They will last us the whole winter.
The humble lettuce is one of the most versatile in the organic garden; no one was more surprised that us when this red lettuce seeded itself.
As long as you keep them damp growing lettuce is very easy; they have a shallow rooting system.
Now Helen has transplanted a myriad of seedlings; we're in for a bumper crop. Currently we have at least seven different lettuce varieties in our autumn veggie garden; and they all count towards that eight plus count of coloured foods that reduce the all-cause of death by a massive 35 percent.
In short the autumn vegetable garden, in a mild climate, is a profusion of well-being; for those who take the time, and have the energy and stamina to make it happen.
What's the purpose of this page, you may well ask? Just boast about what we have achieved? Not so, we are just saying that with a little effort you too could do this and enjoy the amazing wonders of the autumn veggie garden. Good food never tasted so fine when freshly picked from your own patch.
Add to this the cabbage, jalapeno and peppadew, tree tomato and whole spectrum of herbs, and you have the wondrous expectation of more zest and greater wellness.
I just love these jalapenos above, manageable if you lightly blanche them, though Helen prefers to cooler pepperdews; they too can be hot. The active ingredient, capaicin, a strongly anti inflammatory agent, is especially rich in the seeds and placenta; don't chuck them.
These cherry tomatoes are quite resistant to blight; you need more than one of these to qualify for a tomato a day keeps the prostate cancer away. There are few greater miseries for men; I usually enjoy at least 20 per day.
Because I suffer from a lazy colon, beetroot are a big part of our garden. It's soluble fibre is just the stuff to keep one regular. Pressure cook them or they take for ever, consuming a lot of electricity and time. Pickled beets are my favourite.
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We are big into legumes, year round, but in early June there's a hiatus; the limas of summer are nearly over and the peas and broad beans are full of promise but no fruit as of yet.
Whilst the research is not unequivocal, we think it wise to enjoy less red meat and get more of our protein from legumes.
Bernard Preston's book are primarily yarns, true ones, from a DC's coalface. Then there is the lurid tale, A Family Affair, in which he explores the relationship between two young women; it has nothing to do with our autumn veggie garden, but both Santie and Janet are gardeners.
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