Autumn Planting for Winter Harvest and Colourful Garden

Once upon a time our garden was a bleak, bland, uninviting and unproducive place during the autumn and winter. Then we discovered the myriad of flowers and vegetables we could plant during the autumn to provide fresh produce and bright colours throughout the winter months, and it was suddenly transformed into an oasis of life and growth amongst the otherwise bare trees and mud!

Here's a taste of what we are up to in the garden this month.

In the Kiddie Gardens Veggie Patch

The Veggie Patch is still providing us with plenty of fresh veg every day. We are harvesting carrots, runner beans, courgettes and chard. The sweet corn and pumpkins are growing nicely, so we just check on them from time to time and ensure the pumpkins are not lieing directly on the ground by placing a tile underneath them. The bush beans and peas are over, so we will be cutting them down leaving the roots in the ground as they 'lock' nitrogen in place.

Our bid to slowly convert the vegetable patch into raised beds is continuing. As we clear the summer veg away, we are building raised beds and planting the autumn seeds in those.

Vegetables we are sowing now include quick maturing salad veg for late autumn: a couple of lettuces (Winter Density which is a larger variety of the popular Little Gem and Marshall, a quick-growing red variety perfect for use as a picking lettuce) and radishes (we have chosen the quick maturing Purple Plum). For fresh greens throughout the winter months, we are planting spinach (Medania is delicious used as baby leaves for salads or mature leaves for cooking), together with the kale that will ensure a continuous crop throughout from December through to March. For overwintering we are planting onions (the japanese onions Radar and Senshyu are the perfect choice) and the turnip Rubin to provide fresh spring greens in March and April.

In the Kiddie Gardens Greenhouse

The green house has been quite productive this year and we are still harvesting cucumbers, peppers and tomatoes. The outdoor tomatoes were struck down by blight :( but fortunately a couple in the greenhouse managed to survive :) .

Our greenhouse is one of those metal frames with plastic covers which was great for starters but it is now really on it's last legs. So having decided that we cannot live without a greenhouse, we are thinking of replacing it with something more permanent with better insulation and ventilation ... the difficulty is choice, which is why we didn't replace it last year - we just couldn't decide which one to go for. Watch this space to see whether we really WILL replace it this winter or get bogged down in too many options again!

In the Kiddie Garden

The lawn is looking wonderfully green and rather long at the moment, because it has just been too wet over the last couple of weeks to mow. There are a couple of bare patches in front of the football goals and under the swings, so these will need reseeding at some point. At the moment though we are just looking at them and putting it off until next month!

More to the point, our flower borders and patio containers need to be planted up for the winter months. We have been busy scouring the plant catalogues for winter flowers to add colour to the borders, containers and window boxes. Jersey Plants Direct have brilliant offers this time of year, including getting 50 plants with 20 free ready to plant straight away - check their Perennial Prism and Autumn Ready Plants.

Now is also the time to order the spring bulbs and get them planted. We are trying to ensure that our garden attracts more helpful wildlife, so Narcissus Monal is perfect, as bees and butterflies are attracted to its wonderful scent. The choice of bulbs available is superb, as are all the special offers available right now!

As well as making our garden more attractive to bees and butterflies, we are also looking after the wild birds. During the autumn they need to build up fat reserves and grow a warmer 'coat' to see them through the winter, so we are regularly putting out bird feed for them ... out of reach of the cat! Garden Bird is the place to go to find out all about the habits of wild birds and stock up on bird feed - to save 10% off wild bird feed enter BA8WSAVE at checkout :) .

Kiddie Gardens Craft Projects

There are still plenty of summer flowers around, which we are collecting and pressing ready to make cards and bookmarks later on in the autumn. As the trees start to change colour and drop leaves, we are also collecting some of the more beautiful ones and pressing them for a leaf collage.

Kiddie Indoor Gardens

In the kitchen we are planting more parsley and the sprouting seeds continue to add a bit of crunch at meal times. We have just potted up baby aloes and baby spider plants. This month we are also hoping to plant lemon seeds from organic lemons we have consumed lately (a lot of colds around!) and trying to grow a pineapple head ... watch this space!

What's New on KiddieGardens?

As well as relaxing in the garden during the last months and getting through the back-to-school rush at the beginning of September, we have added more content for you on KiddieGardens:

Make Your Own Book - Here's an idea your kids will love! Make your own book all about them and their garden. These simple ideas will give you a starting point for your homemade book.

Types of Plant Propagation - The four main types of plant propagation are taking cuttings, dividing roots, sowing seeds and air layering. Which plant propagation method you use depends on the plant and your child's skill level.

Caring for House Plants - Caring for house plants is different to caring for outside plants. The basic needs of plants are the same, but indoor plants live in an unnatural environment and are completely dependent on us to ensure their needs are met.

Indoor House Plants - One of the questions I am asked frequently is which indoor house plants are suitable for kids? The basic answer to that question is: house plants that can take a lot of neglect!

Sprouting Seeds - Sprouting seeds is a great quick way of introducing kids to bean sprouts, grow something nutritious and save a few pennies on the shopping at the same time!

Bamboo Wind Chimes - If you have a few bamboo tomato poles spare, why not make bamboo wind chimes with children for the garden or patio with these simple instructions?

Aloe Vera Plants - It is hard to go wrong when growing aloe vera plants, which make them a good house plant to grow with children.

Edible Flowers - If you feel like growing flowers, why not try growing some of the edible flowers? Chances are, you will already have some growing in the garden already, and just not realised that they are edible!

September Special offers: are offering 5% off all purchases.

Gardens and Homes Direct are also offering 5% off all purchases.

Both of these are well worth having a browse through, as they have a pretty comprehensive range of garden products - think Christmas Presents!

Here is an exclusive offer from Garden Bird - to save 10% on all bird food enter BA8WSAVE at checkout.

Greenfingers have special offers on solar lighting this month. Very useful now that evening are getting darker!

And Finally ...

What we really liked!

Tractor Ted is a small UK company created by a mum who wanted her children to know what farming is REALLY like. Apart from DVDs showing real farming methods and animals, they have books and t-shirts for young children. Check out the Tractor Ted website and look at the film clips if you want to risk falling in love!

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We'd love to hear from you!

Have you invented the perfect garden game? Grown some unusual plants or vegetables? Got some useful tips for other mums and dads introducing their kids to gardening? How about a complete disaster in the garden?

Whatever it is, we would love to hear from you!

Have a great September in the Garden!