Autumn Planting Guide For Melbourne 43

Here’s our autumn planting guide for Melbourne. With the onset of autumn, our planting options change. I actually prefer growing veggies over winter to growing during summer. Winter veggies require less care and attention. With our cool, wet Melbourne climate, winter veggies practically grow themselves.

What to Plant in March, April & May

autumn planting guide for Melbourne

Autumn Planting of Winter Brassica Vegetables

autumn planting of brocolli in melbourne

Broccoli is quick and easy to grow. Growing it at home might be just the thing you need to get kids to eat it.

Traditionally winter veggie seedlings (and sweet peas) are planted out on or around St Patrick’s Day (17th March). There should be plenty to choose from at your local nursery including cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and kale.

Brussels sprouts take a long time to grow, so long in fact, that commercial growers usually start sowing them in November. For suburban gardeners, the rewards are not always worth the effort you put into growing Brussels sprouts. If you’re new to gardening, this autumn, I’d recommend that you focus on planting broccoli, kale and maybe some mini-cauliflowers These are far easier to grow successfully.

Green or purple sprouting varieties of broccoli are great, because they can produce a crop of side shoots after the main head has been harvested. This extends your harvesting season.

When buying your seedlings, choose small, young plants. Avoid plants with tough looking stems that have been sitting around unsold for some time. These old seedlings tend to struggle to grow and then bolt (set seed) around July. Planting them is a waste of time.

Autumn planting melbourne white cabbage moth

The caterpillars from the white cabbage moth can wreak havoc in the garden

Brassica crops will tolerate partially shady conditions, but will grow more strongly and quickly if planted in full sun.

All brassicas need soil enriched with organic matter and decomposed, animal manure. They need lots of nitrogen, so if you are able to source some chook manure, add it (or poultry manure pellets) to your brassica patch. Every 10-14 days during growth, apply a diluted liquid fertiliser such as Seasol Powerfeed to spur them along.

Brassica seedlings are prone to snail and slug attacks. Cabbage moth caterpillars can also wreak havoc with young plants. Consider using eggshells in the garden to deter these pests from your crops.



Autumn planting guide onions in Melbourne

Sow onion seed now for a bountiful harvest next summer

If you are pressed for garden space, then I wouldn’t bother with growing onions. They take a long time to grow and can usually be purchased fairly cheaply from farmers markets or the green grocer. However if you have the space, then they are a fairly easy crop to grow.

Onions can be transplanted from punnets, but grow best from seed. Scatter the seed in furrows a few millimetres deep and water in well. A few weeks after germination, thin the seedlings to 10 cm apart. Keep onion patches well weeded as they hate competition. Plan ahead and make sure you avoid planting in areas you wish to plant your next summer crops, as onions take a long time to mature. Usually you won’t be harvesting them until well into January.



Autumn planting guide onion

Garlic is very easy to grow

Garlic is so easy to grow. With only a small space, you can grow enough garlic to supply yourself for most of the year. Garlic bulbs should be planted in early autumn.

To grow garlic, you can use garlic purchased from the supermarket. However, we recommend that you source yours from a plant nursery to ensure that you’re getting a variety that is disease and chemical free. Carefully break the garlic head into individual cloves and plant them pointy end up. The cloves should be buried about 5 cm deep, and spaced about 20 cm apart. Then all you need to do is ensure that they are watered regularly and keep the weeds at bay until harvest.

It’s important to remember that just like onions, garlic takes a long time to reach maturity, and is not harvested until well into summer. So avoid planting it in a space you’ve earmarked for planting out in spring, or you’ll find your patch ends up double booked.



Podding peas is great fun for kids

Podding peas is great fun for kids

Looking to make the most of your small spaces? Peas are a great crop for autumn and winter. They’ll grow up a trellis and are great fun for the kids to pick and shell. What’s more, they are legumes, so they’ll fix nitrogen in the soil and help rejuvenate it.

Plant the pea seeds about 3-5 cm deep and water in well. Hold off any further watering until the seeds have germinated. Make sure you choose the right variety of peas for your garden. Dwarf and bush peas only grow to 60cm high, but telephone peas can reach 150cm high or more! We recommend the variety ‘Melbourne Market’ (also known as Massey Gem) because it is a proven variety for Melbourne conditions and only grows to 50cm high. Sugar Snap peas are also a tasty choice.

Broad Beans


Autumn planting guide broad beans Melbourne

Broad beans are one of the easiest veggie crops to grow

Broad beans are up there with radishes, as one of the easiest plants to grow in your veggie patch.

March until early May is the ideal time to plant out broad beans in Melbourne. The great thing about broad beans is that they are ready for harvest in spring. This is a time when not much else is being harvested in the garden.

Sow broad bean seeds about 3cm below the surface and about 10-15 cm apart. They do not like wind and will benefit from protection. Consider tying some string between stakes to help support them as they grow.

We recommend growing the variety Coles Dwarf as they are hardy, and are one of the best varieties for handling strong winds. They’re also fairly resistant to rust, a fungal disease.

It’s always a good idea to let a few of the last pods to dry on the plant. Then you can collect bean seeds for sowing next year’s crop!

Leafy Greens

Lettuce, mustard greens, spinach and rainbow chard (silverbeet) will all grow well in autumn and into winter (albeit far slower than in summer). An economical option is to grow from seed. If you’re keen to get harvesting for salads earlier, then transplant as seedlings. Within about 8 weeks from sowing (less if planted from seedlings) you can start to harvest leaves from the outside of the plant.


You can start a herb garden at most times of the year, including autumn. Annual herbs such as Parsley and Coriander will grow well over the winter. You’ll now have to wait until spring to plant basil.

Like to know more?

If you’d like a bit more of a guide on choosing which veggies to grow this autumn and winter, we’ve developed the Leaf, Root and Fruit Philosophy of Edible Gardening. It’s this philosophy that’s provided the name of the business, as well as the inspiration for the logo.

Sign up to our newsletter for our monthly edible gardening wrap-up, including:

  • A guide on what to plant in your garden in the upcoming month
  • What’s happening in our garden and other gardens across Melbourne
  • Upcoming gardening events
  • Hints and tips on gardening

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

43 thoughts on “Autumn Planting Guide For Melbourne

  • Maryann

    Been great reading….. We have just built wicking beds…….. I am overwhelmed about how to start and manage compost…… So no rats appear!…… Any suggestions…. We r on a suburban block in Melb.

    • Leaf, Root & Fruit Post author

      Hi Maryann, thanks for the great feedback. Composting can be a complex subject and worthy of an entire blog in itself. I’ll try and make it one of the next few blogs that I write. Stay tuned!

      • Carmen

        Hello I’m interested in composing a few ways. I just built my own Bokashi composting bin. Would love more details on how to use the juice and fermented scraps! Think I burnt my passion fruit vine after giving it a diluted drenching of juice and water! 😯

        • Leaf, Root & Fruit Post author

          Hi Carmen,

          Bokashi is essential fermentation (not composting). It’s a great way for people living in apartments etc to reduce the amount of food waste going to landfill. The juice is very acidic and should be diluted and used sparingly on your plants. The fermented scraps are best added to a compost system before being used in the garden.

          Good Luck & Happy Gardening!


  • Gemma

    Perfect timing! I was unsure what I should be planting at this time of year and this post was exactly what I was looking for! I live in Northern Tasmania so our climates are very similar. Thank you!

  • tom

    We are in the process of establishing our new veg and fruit garden in our new home we have just built for our retirement. We have 400mm high raised beds and look to be as self sufficient as we can and look forward to your planting advice etc.

    • Leaf, Root & Fruit Post author

      Hi Tom, that’s great news. Please keep us updated as your garden grows. Good Luck and Happy Gardening! Duncan

  • Diane Whitford

    I have smallish raised garden bed and would like to know what is the best soil preparation for a vegetable patch. I have just joined this group and look forward to reading advise and information from others.

    • Leaf, Root & Fruit Post author

      Hi Diane,

      Thanks for your inquiry. Are you talking about gardening in the ground, or in a raised garden bed? Either way, you can’t beat good quality, home-made compost to improve your soil. Failing that I’d work in some well rotted manures (anything but horse manure that will bring in weed seeds). Mushroom composts can be an economical way to do this in bulk. If you are growing in a raised garden bed, and you haven’t filled it yet then you can’t beat buying a quality, blended veggie mix from a garden supplies centre. Just be careful to check the product that you are getting to make sure that it’s going to support good veggie growth. Some of the veggie soil blends out there are very poor quality.

      Please keep us all updated on how you get on!


    • Leaf, Root & Fruit Post author

      Thanks for your feedback. We’ll be including workshops on small spaces gardening in the future.

      Stay tuned!


    • Leaf, Root & Fruit Post author

      Hi Frank,

      In Melbourne, the best time to plant trees is late spring. The soil is starting to warm up and we usually have good rainfall without too much heat. This gives the trees a chance to establish themselves before the onset of the summer heat. Autumn is also a good time to plant trees, as long as they have a chance to establish before the cool weather sets in. Winter is the perfect time to plant dormant, bare-rooted fruit trees and other deciduous varieties.

      Hope that helps. Good Luck and Happy Gardening!


      • Frank huynh

        Thank you so much that is great help we are establishing Buddhist meditation centre for all Australians I am accountant background and live all my life in city never has experiencing in gardening your support is very helpful because I don’t want our plants because cost money therefore I ask your advice we are in 286 Central rd, Tylden Vic 3444 last winter is one night -6 degrees most of tropical plants are dead I am trying to recover but not sure if they are survive it is sad.

  • Trish

    I have two vege plots aprox 2m x 1m each.
    How many different veges can I grow here?
    How much water should vege gardens have each day
    In autumn approximately?
    Thank you for your help

    • Leaf, Root & Fruit Post author

      Hi Trish,

      It’s great that you’ve got yourself set up with some veggie gardens. The short answer to your first question is lots! We ignore the spacing recommendations on the back of seed packs and seedling labels. Just cram them in. They’ll sort themselves out and grow strong and healthily. The main thing is to avoid bare soil and vacant space in the veggie patch!

      As for the watering, that all depends on how much rain we’ve had (none lately), how hot it is, how windy it is, how well the garden is mulched, how big the plants are. The easiest way to tell if the plants are getting enough water is to stick your finger deep into the soil. If it is damp, then they are getting enough water. If the soil is dry – it’s time to water. The plants will also show signs of wilting (especially on hot days). Check the plants again once the temperature has dropped. If the leaves are still wilted, then the plants are not getting enough water. It’s important to try and avoid stressing your plants through lack of water, so if you are regularly finding the leaves are wilted, or the soil dry, then get into the habit of watering more regularly.

      Good Luck and Happy Gardening!


    • Leaf, Root & Fruit Post author

      Hi Vivianne,

      That’s a very broad inquiry and would need to be covered in several blog posts! Did you have any specific questions? Otherwise signing up to our newsletter is probably a great place to start!

      Good Luck and Happy Gardening!


  • Andrew King

    Hi I am knew to veg and fruit planting.
    Previously I drove trucks interstate, I am recovering from a work accident. I now enjoy my time learning growing eating the produce. Hints advice of growing my garden and my compost will be most appreciated.

    • Leaf, Root & Fruit Post author

      Hi Andrew,

      I’m glad to hear you’ve found gardening as a great way to recover from your accident. Good luck with the recovery and happy gardening!


  • Sudhir Varsheny

    I had sown broad’s leaves have curled up and the plant seems under stress. I had used NPK fertiliser it due to that. I can’t see any pests on it though.

    • Leaf, Root & Fruit Post author

      Hi Sudhir,

      In past seasons we have noticed the growing tips of broad beans curling up. We think this is due to a mosaic virus being transmitted by whitefly or other sap suckers. The plants have always outgrown the issue, developed normally and produced good yields in the end. Without seeing the plants though, it’s hard for me to diagnose.

      Good Luck and Happy Gardening!


  • Glenn

    Just experimenting growing Tomatoes from seeds re new seeds Cherry and Normal varieties and even seeds out of a grown tomato. Ive placed seeds into planting trays with an old rope light underneath and fluorescent lights above, the trays are encased in plastic domes and seedlings are going reasonably well with the true leaves just starting to come through.
    My question is after i have transplanted them into 10cm pots would I leave them on heat lights or could I place them into a grow reflection tent under just lights?

    • Leaf, Root & Fruit Post author

      Hi Glenn,

      It really depends on the greenhouse and your set up. We find that bigger greenhouses don’t need any heating, but smaller ones do. Tomatoes like the soil to be consistently above 20 degrees C. We generally sow our seeds in July and aim to transplant into the garden in October.

      Good Luck and Happy Gardening!


  • June

    My husband has great pleasure in reaping what he sows our vege garden is his pride and joy we are reaping loads of broad beans at the moment,it’s been a great season we have soooo many we can give some away .i found your site by accident and found it very interesting looking forward to your notes of interest

    • Leaf, Root & Fruit Post author

      Hi June,

      Thanks for the great feedback. I’m glad you’ve found our resources to be useful.

      Good Luck and Happy Gardening!


  • John

    Hi guys
    great write up,
    I would love your opinion on something.
    I have a greenhouse and was wondering if would be ok to start my seeds for cauliflower and broccoli in there as long as i left a roof vent open so it doesnt get hot in there or is that just a waste of time?
    Any info would be much appreciated

    • Leaf, Root & Fruit Post author

      Hi John, starting the seedlings in the greenhouse is fine. However be aware that they will germinate in only a few days. One problem with starting brassica seedlings early, is that if they become pot bound, then they start to bolt. Pot-bound seedlings lead to small flower heads. At this time of the year, the seedlings will grow rapidly in the greenhouse and therefore become pot bound quite early.

      We generally sow our seeds in late March through to early April in the greenhouse for planting into gardens in late April to early May. The milder weather at that time of the year means that white cabbage moth is less of an issue.

      Good Luck & Happy Gardening!


  • Vincent Power

    I have always had trouble with cabbage and cauliflower mainly bolting in the warmer months and I’m told I planted them too late?
    I buy my punnets of seedlings the first week they go on sale at Bunnings in Spring.

    • Leaf, Root & Fruit Post author

      Hi Vincent,

      Timing is important when planting Brassicas in Melbourne. However, my guess is that you purchased plants that have become stressed by either being root bound or through lack of water. This induces them to bolt quite early.

      You rarely see Brassicas in good condition in large hardware chains. The seedlings grow very quickly and soon get stressed. Far better to grow them from seed yourself. I think you’ll find you have much better success that way.

      Good Luck & Happy Gardening!