Urban Food Garden


Season summary for my food garden in Ballarat (Victoria), Autumn, 2024.  This is mainly of relevance to food gardeners in the Ballarat area, but it might be a useful comparison for those living further afield.

weather summary

At 1.6 degrees above the long term average it was a warm Autumn, despite April being .9 degrees below the long term average.  That’s because at 3.2 degrees above the average March was extremely hot which pushed the overall average temperature for Autumn to well above average.  The minimum temperature was pretty well average, which is not surprising as the rainfall was well down, which would have meant more clear skies, clear skies mean cooler nights.  The first frost in our backyard (Soldiers Hill Ballarat) was on the 15th of May which was quickly followed by four more frosts in the next fortnight.

Rainfall was 103.2 ml, which was just 65.8% of the average rainfall for Autumn.  But it did not fall evenly, over half of it fell in a 24 hour period in the first week of April.

The official weather statistics for spring as recorded by the Bureau of Meteorology’s  Ballarat airport site.    Click HERE to see a higher resolution PDF of this weather chart. 

garden summary

Overall the vegetable garden fared well this Autumn.  The brassicas are developing nicely, I began harvesting cabbages back in March and the first of the broccoli in mid-May.  It is looking to be an excellent brassicas crop this winter.  The bean harvest was good so was the autumn pea crop.  The biggest disappointment was lower than average tomato and potato crops.   The main pumpkin crop was also down a little, but at 20 pumpkins form four plants it was still a respectable tally.  There were no major diseases/pest issues other than powdery scab on the potatoes and aphids on the Brussels sprouts, both of which strike every year. 

One of the most surprising things was that the warmer and drier than average Autumn weather meant that I had to lightly water my vegetable beds a couple of times in early May, something I don’t think I have ever had to do before, even during the Millennial drought.

Leek and brassicas with the tail end of the tomato crop in the next row, late April. The winter brassicas crop is shaping up to be a good one.

My Brussels sprouts plants as of late Autumn.  As usual they had a green aphid infestation on them.  The earlier sprouts (lower down on the stem) were a little flowery, which I put down to the warmer than usual Autumn weather making the plants mature earlier than expected.  Sprouts tend to go flowery when the weather is warm.

This year we harvested 20 Grey Crown pumpkins from 4 plants, down from 29 harvested last year but still a respectable yield. 

Fruit trees

We had the best apple and pear crop in years, while the cherry crop was reasonable.  The peach and Chinese gooseberry crops were poor, but I put that down to excessive pruning.

Some of the preserved fruit from this season’s harvest, more than enough to see us through to next season.


My five  hens averaged 4.3 eggs per day this Autumn.  There was a dip in egg production in March but that was when we were away on holidays and I was unable to give them their usual protein supplement in the form of a pasta, cat food and meat meal mash.  If hens do not get enough protein then their egg production will drop.

On of my five High-Line hens.  They are an excellent egg laying breed, producing a steady supply of good quality eggs and possessing a friendly temperament.  Since I can no longer keep a rooster in town (you could when we first moved to Ballarat) I have mainly kept crossbreed hens such as High-Lines as they lay more eggs than pure bred hens.