How to make the most of an autumn vegetable garden

As juicy tomatoes and sweet peas give way to ripening pumpkins on the vine and fragrant apple orchards, it’s time to enjoy the bounty of the autumn harvest.

Preparing for an autumn harvest

Autumn bursts with fresh vegetables, with many surviving the transition from summery weather. Examples include broccoli, cabbage, kohlrabi, lettuce and radishes. Beetroot performs exceptionally well in the autumn, as do hardier plants like spinach and kale which can take your garden through to the colder season. Read some more of our winter planting ideas if you’re looking to the longer term.

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As with all gardening endeavours, preparing for a bounty of autumnal vegetables boils down to timing. Research the average first frost date in your area and count backwards to sow seeds and give plants a chance to grow and ripen before wintry frosts set in. Make sure your autumn vegetable garden has room to grow by removing summer plants past their prime, like sweet corn or tomatoes. Add compost to newly turned-over ground to help give it a fresh start. Should cold weather arrive early, protect young seedlings from the frost with a cloche or blanket.

Simple marmalades for year-round sweetness

Making the most of your autumn vegetable garden means enjoying the fruits of the season too.

Beyond the vegetable patch, autumn is synonymous with apple harvesting for many. Yet this time of year also offers crisp pears and juicy figs. These are combined to exquisite effect in this pear, fig and cinnamon recipe.

As pumpkins reach maturity, blend them with sugar, lemon and orange as in this pumpkin marmalade recipe for a unique seasonal twist on a traditional toast topper.

Cranberry jam is a natural accompaniment to roasted meat, the tartness of the cranberries offset by juicy orange and sugar. Try this recipe for a versatile autumnal condiment.

Savoury soups for chilly evenings

As nights grow longer and the evening temperatures start to drop, turn to your autumn vegetable garden for perfectly seasonal soup ingredients. This minestrone soup recipe uses winter squash and kale for a rustic, hearty blend.

Carrots bring sweetness and colour to the autumn vegetable garden. Try blending them into a mellow soup given a kick with a touch of warming ginger.

Tame beetroot’s earthiness by roasting it alongside some garlic and mixing into a soup with leeks for added flavour. A dash of lemon juice puts the bright finish to this roasted garlic and beet soup recipe.

A harvest for your home interior

Beyond the array of tempting culinary possibilities, you can use your autumn harvest to spruce up your interior design for the season. Get creative with colour and texture, arranging your botanical elements for a blend of flowers, fruit and vegetables. For example, mix ornamental curly kale into your seasonal flower arrangements, arrange baby pumpkins in a handcrafted ceramic dish, or craft a wreath out of trumpet vines, sunflowers and colourful peppers.

Autumn can be a delightful time of year in the garden, with slow-growing fruits ripening to maturity and hardy leaves freshening up your salads with that unbeatable farm-to-table flavour.

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