Whether you plant in the ground or in pots, horticulturalist Claire Bickle rounds up the fastest-growing veggies and herbs for the cooler months in South-East Queensland.

There is nothing more rewarding than growing your own edibles, whether it be herbs, salad greens, vegetables or fruit. What you grow yourself will quite often be far more nutrient dense and as fresh as you can get. Autumn is a fantastic time of year in South-East Queensland to get out into the garden and get growing. The cooler days and nights are kinder on the plants, and yourself for that matter.

Choosing fast-growing varieties

Some vegetables can take a little while to come to fruition, like potatoes – around 5 months – and cauliflower which can also take months to form their flowering heads.

But whether it be in ground or in pots there are many vegetables, herbs and greens that can be grown quickly and easily right now.

Leafy greens

  • lettuce (loose-leaf types)
  • spinach
  • rocket
  • endive
  • silver beet & rainbow chard
  • Asian greens (pak choi, wong bok, bok choi, tatsoi, mizuna, mibuna)

Vegetables

  • radish
  • snow peas (erect a small trellis to support their climbing habit)
  • broccolini
  • kale
  • tomatoes (cherry, pear and mini romas – these will need staking or support)
  • spring onions

Herbs

  • dill
  • coriander
  • fennel
  • parsley
  • mint

Depending on where you live (e.g. house, or unit/townhouse) you may have a preference for pots over garden beds or visa versa.

Let’s look at both methods.

Growing in the ground

  1. To start with, choose a sunny location that receives around 5-6 hours direct sun a day.
  2. Prepare the soil well by adding and digging through good quantities of compost and well-rotted animal manure such as cow or chicken.
  3. Rake your garden bed soil level and water well.
  4. Mulch the surface of the prepared garden bed.
  5. Wait a week or so before planting if possible, to allow the organic matter to start breaking down and create good soil structure and release nutrients.
  6. Once you’ve planted your seedlings, water them in with some liquid seaweed.
  7. Continue to water your plants every second day or so depending on rainfall.
  8. Deep waterings for the first few weeks will encourage deeper root growth into the soil and long-term hardiness of the plants.
  9. Fertilise fortnightly with a fish emulsion containing seaweed, and apply side dressings every few weeks of an organic manure pellet fertiliser.

Growing in pots or containers

  1. Once again choose a sunny location that receives good levels of direct sunlight.
  2. Choose a good quality potting mix that has the Australian standard potting mix ticks on the side of the bag. Don’t skimp on cost when it comes to potting mix.
  3. Once you have planted your seedlings, water them in with a liquid seaweed.
  4. Plants grown in containers will need more frequent watering and depending on weather conditions they may even need watering every day. Pot size, plant size and weather will all have an effect on watering frequencies. Just check the mix by doing the old finger test, this is where you literally poke your finger into the mix a few inches and see if it is still moist or dry.
  5. Liquid fertilise your pots every week or second week with a fish emulsion and regular application of liquid seaweed will be beneficial too. Most potting mixes will have a slow release fertiliser in them, this run out usually at around the 12-week mark. Reapply using a quality slow release fertiliser, preferably organic.