May in the Vegie Patch – Do’s and Don’ts

Fergus helps turn the soil over.
Fergus helps turn the soil over.

If you’re out in the patch at this time of the year, it barely feels like you’re working. Cool autumn air but still just enough sun to allow for a turning up of the sleeves when you get that mattock swinging.

My mattock is my favourite tool for it makes easy work of one of my autumn rituals, the turning of the soil.

I turn the soil over for two reasons, one is it’s a great way to get some more humus into the soil and also reveals the pesky African black beetle larvae which I either give to my insatiable Labrador, or collect for the chooks. I usually dig my bean plants into the soil and all this hoeing helps that breakdown.

Before I began the clean up.
Before I began the clean up.

Before I plant my winter crops I’ll be spreading the ground with organic pellets, some blood and bone and for those that know me well enough, magnesium in the form of Epsom Salts. I’ll also be spreading some potash about, more because I’ve just got a bag and I can’t help myself, rather than for some soil chemistry reason.

That’s my Do’s for autumn, here are my Don’ts

I have removed all but my silverbeet, rhubarb and perennial spinach, including the frames upon which my tomatoes were trussed. It’s all gone but this weekend I’ll be back out there planting my goodies for winter. All these plants though have created a pile of waste about one metre square. The pile, although tempting to compost, is full of pathogens that won’t be destroyed here in our cool climate because our winter is just too cool.

After the clean up.
After the clean up.

So whatever you do, don’t compost. Your disposal options depend on where you live. I’ll be burning mine up and spreading the ash around the base of my fruit trees. Otherwise pop them into your green waste bin and let the problem become someone else’s. If that’s not your style you can place it all in a black plastic bag and leave it in the sun for a month or two and then compost it. I like the cleansing ritual of a good old burning.

I’ll be planting snow peas, onions, garlic, lettuce, mizuna, pak choi, shallots and maybe some rocket, or maybe not.


Category: Grow



  1. There is more than ample evidence in the botanical literature that composting diseased plants can actually aid in providing plants future immunity from those diseases.

  2. Only, Dr Green, if you can guarantee that your compost will completely break down. This garden is in a very cool mountainous climate and any composting attempted now will simply not break down. The compost I make is all made during spring and summer. If the heat is not sufficient to kill the pathogens, and develop the helpful bacterium that you speak of, they will survive and thrive.

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Article by: Mark Logan

Former photojournalist at the CWD, Mark Logan has mixed together his love of technology with his years of experience as a journalist and photographer to develop the Orange Post. The Orange Post is his baby. A baby whose gestation involved countless ideas, numerous bouts of indecision, an infinite number of hours cursing free software and more than one bottle of wine. Whilst he's not trying to cajole people into writing for the Orange Post, he's attempting to sharpen his vegetable gardening skills. He lives in a strangely shaped house in Millthorpe, loves ignoring recipe directions, dabbles in web design for fun, frustration and profit and is constantly in a battle of the wills with his dog Fergus